The Ultimate Track Day Tyre
Who would have thought we could push tyres so far? I mean how far can you really go with rubber? Turns out Michelin invest more into tyre research & development than any other manufacturer in the industry. In 2017 Michelin invested 640 MILLION Euros into R&D alone, and one of the projects to manifest as a result of that insanely high budget is the exclusive connected tyre solution Michelin are calling 'Track Connect'.
As the name would suggest this new tech is focused on the track day segment and therefore currently only applies to Michelin's high performance tyre - the Pilot Sport Cup 2.
So what's it all about? On a typical track day using a road car with road tyres, the process goes a little something like this; You head out on track with your standard road tyre air pressures for the first few warm up and sighting laps, after 3 or 4 laps at track speed the tyres become very hot due to abnormal loads and friction which in turn heats up the air inside the tyre.
Hot air expands and increases the pressure inside the tyre beyond the optimal settings for road use, this has the result of effectively bulging the surface of the tyre a little like a ballon which reduces the contact patch of rubber on the circuit surface resulting in less grip, understeer, oversteer and less effective braking. In the track day game we commonly refer to this as the tyres 'dropping off'.
So what is the fix? Well, for as long as air was blown into a tyre the process has always been to return to the pits, bring out your pressure gauge and release some air from the tyres to reduce the pressure back down again. Pretty simple, but the issue has always been that unless you have a race team to hand the average track day enthusiast is never truly certain if the pressures they are using are optimal.
And so a brief process of trial and error begins where one heads back out on track to get a feel for the new pressures. Are they good? are they bad? Could they be better? The car and driver head back to the pits and maybe tamper some more and ask various people in the garages what they drop their pressures to, that is if you just so happen to find a peer with a similar car that is!
Pressure and tyre conditions also vary greatly depending on an individuals driving style and ability, therefor there is typically no one set pressure to optimally suit every person. This is exactly where Michelin Track Connect comes in. Each tyre has a sensor inside that relays temperature and pressure info to a receiver box inside the car which in turn sends the data in realtime to the Track Connect app on your smartphone.
The app is set up to the specific car you are driving and based on your driving styles, Michelins data on that car and how the tyres temperatures and pressures are effected, the app will advise you the exact pressures you should be running in order to get the maximum potential out of your car, your tyres and your track experience!
For the launch of this new tyre tech I was invited out to Andalucia Circuit in Southern Spain to discover what it was really like to use. You can find out all about how Track Connect works in the video below, oh and I just so happen to be driving a Porsche 991 GT3!
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