Review by James Bergeron, photos courtesy of James Bergeron, 1MoreLap.ca and HotLapMotorsports.com
Perhaps shootout is a little optimistic for the title of this review, but that was the intent when the idea came to fruition. Unfortunately, a lot of tire manufacturers do not want to be part of a test where their tires will be compared directly with a competitor in a harsh environment; well, either that or they just didn’t want to send us tires.
But we pulled up our socks and buckled our seatbelts anyways and what we have here is a two tire “shootout”. Two tires that are at the top of their game, in fact, and if you do some research you will find many enthusiasts recommending these tires as leaders. Maybe that’s the reason nobody else wanted in on this fight – were they running scared?
The tried and true Michelin PSS (Pilot Super Sport) is a tire that is rated very highly by auto-x and lapping day enthusiasts as a great all-around summer tire that will take a beating at the track and perform with admirable grip in both wet and dry.
The new kid on the block is the Bridgestone RE-71R. Not strictly rated in the same category, the Bridgestone is rated as an Extreme Performance Summer tire while the Michelin is rated as an Ultra Performance Summer tire, but what’s the difference between Extreme and Ultra really? Po-tay-toe, Po-tah-toe I say.
Both tires are completely useless in the winter, and as the temperature drops to anything below 10 degrees Celsius their performance on dry pavement becomes sketchy at best so we will call them both performance summer tires.
The vehicle used for testing purposes is a 2009 Lexus IS F, a vehicle that fits squarely into the category which these tires were created for. Other vehicles that these tires would be recommended for would be the BMW M3/M5, Mercedes-Benz AMG models, Chevrolet Corvettes or any high-performance vehicle where their owner expects the best overall tire performance.
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Using tires like the Bridgestone RE-71R and the Michelin PSS may seem like a compromise on the track, but in reality they are great choice for the casual lapper or auto-x participant because they offer both extreme dry grip while having the ability to evacuate water as well – there is nothing worse than losing track time because you need to switch tires or worse, don’t have another set of high performance rain tires.
The Michelin PSS was the tire originally mounted to my IS F test vehicle. A quiet, comfortable tire on the highway that has been a proven choice by many over the years. On the racetrack I know many that have used this tire in 30-40 minute races and for the most part the tires stand up for about half a season of racing – that is a grueling test for any tire.