2009 Bridgestone Racing Academy
2009 Bridgestone Racing Academy. Click image to enlarge

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Bridgestone Racing Academy

Mosport, Ontario – There are a few ways that you can tell if a company is truly proud of, and believes in, their products. Pure marketing only goes so far: too much and it looks like your product isn’t really that great; not enough and nobody understands or desires it. Perhaps the best marketing is proving the product’s value in extreme conditions, and if your product is a high performance street tire, what better way to prove your product than to have it tested on a racetrack?

That is exactly what Bridgestone did in April 2009 to launch the new Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 in North America. In the United States, the Bridgestone Potenza RE-01R (the predecessor to the new RE-11) has been dominating the field in the Sports Club Car of America (SCCA) Autocross events over the last two years, but the competition is heating up with new tires from Hankook and others.

To be clear, the RE-11 is not a racing tire. Although it performs like one in many respects, it is a DOT (Department of Transport) approved tire, rated for use on the street on regular street vehicles. The tire is specifically targeting the sports car market segment on cars such as the Honda S2000, Nissan 350Z/370Z, the Mini Cooper S and the BMW 3 Series. It is a high-performance summer tire designed to perform in all summer conditions from scorching heat to pouring rain and everything in between, but the Potenza RE-11 tire is not an all-season tire and should not be used after the temperature drops below seven degrees Celsius.

2009 Bridgestone Racing Academy
2009 Bridgestone Racing Academy. Click image to enlarge

In order to prove their confidence in the new RE-11 tire, Bridgestone invited a handful of journalists to attend the Bridgestone Racing Academy held at the Mosport Driver Development track near Bowmanville Ontario. The Bridgestone Racing Academy uses these tires on their race cars as the RE-11 contains proprietary “Stealth Technology,” a development that stems from Formula One rain tires.

Suited up in full race gear, we headed onto the racetrack in open wheel race-cars. These cars are 2008 Van Diemen Formula SCCA cars capable of accelerating, turning and stopping beyond what most people can imagine. Powered by a 2.3-litre four-cylinder Mazda/Ford Duratec engine, they output approximately 170 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. That doesn’t sound like much, but the car weighs in at just 408 kilgrams (900 lbs) giving it a power to weight ratio of 5.3, which means for every one horsepower you have 5.3 lbs of weight to move.

To put that into perspective, let’s look at a few street cars that you may be familiar with. The Chevrolet Corvette with its monstrous 6.2-litre V8 engine has a power to weight ratio of 7.4. Even the ZR1 halo car with 638 hp just barely beats the power to weight ratio of the Van Diemen with 5.2. A more standard vehicle such as a Mazda3 sedan powered by a similar 2.3-litre engine has a power to weight ratio of only 17.3 or nearly three and a half times more weight per horsepower.

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