Record Breaking Performance
Ruling the high performance roost at Michelin is the Pilot Sport PS2 and the Pilot Sport Cup +. The first of these is a tyre that, in April 2008, earned the distinction of being the tyre fitted to the world’s fastest production car – a Shelby SuperCars’ Ultimate Aero, fitted with the Michelin tyres, set a new record of 256.18 mph (412.28 km/h) during tests in the US. This accomplishment, the first occasion in which a US vehicle manufacturer has held the speed record since 1967, took place with little to no wear present on the Michelin tyre.
So this second generation Michelin tyre is obviously not one intended for plodding trips to the supermarket, then. Designed in close collaboration with prestige vehicle manufacturers in the sport and supersport segments, the Pilot Sport PS2 has been homologated for various models from, amongst others, Audi, BMW, Porsche and Mercedes. The Pilot Sport PS2 features a rigid asymmetric tread pattern – Michelin points out the similarities this format, with its four grooves around the tyre, shares with Formula 1 tyres. The pattern is one that ensures superior steering response, the manufacturer adds, and grip on wet and dry surfaces is improved by the presence of a dual compound plus the use of a Variable Contact Patch (VCP) System that maintains the optimum size and shape of the tyre’s contact patch whether driving in a straight line or under hard cornering.
Other reported strong points are the Pilot Sport PS2’s level of grip when braking, a low wear rate not normally found in such a high performance tyre (as observed during the recent speed record attempt), and the ability to reduce the noise and vibrations normally transmitted to the car’s interior by ultra-low profile tyres.
The Pilot Sport PS2 is available in numerous sizes from 205/50 ZR 17 (89Y) to 295/25 ZR 22 (97Y).
In November Michelin announced that its other key performance tyre, the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup +, had gained original equipment approval as an option on the latest version of the BMW M3. Launched in the second half of 2007, the new M3 is considered by many to be amongst the most demanding high performance cars on today’s market. As Michelin’s top of the line sports tyre, the Pilot Sport Cup + has been developed for track use, but this strong performance emphasis has not come at the expense of on-road requirements, a fact confirmed by the tyre’s e-marking and EEC tyre approval number.
The technology used in the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup + enables the tyre to handle extreme track conditions while delivering good grip for safe everyday driving. To achieve this challenging dual objective, Michelin has developed a specific solution that involves integrating two different components into the tyre’s rubber compounds. Because wet road driving places considerable demand on the inside shoulder, silica has been included in this section of the tread, offering a superior level of traction on slippery surfaces. Inversely, carbon black is used on the outer shoulder for maximum grip on dry surfaces. These two different blends, each of which is adapted to a specific type of use, are rarely seen together within the same tyre.
Michelin worked in close cooperation with BMW M GmbH to develop a tyre that would meet the standards set for the new M3. Equipped with 19-inch wheels, the German performance saloon and convertible can be specified with 245/35 ZR19 (93Y) XL tyres on the front and 265/35 ZR19 (98Y) XL Pilot Sport Cup + on the rear wheels.
A third tyre in Michelin’s performance portfolio is a product that draws on expertise gained in motorsport. The Pilot Exalto PE2 is aimed at the owners of hot hatches, coupes and convertibles who, in the words of Michelin, like to have fun at the wheel. The first generation Pilot Exalto was introduced in 2000, and the French manufacturer reports that its researchers have since that time worked to improve on the original, with the result being a second generation tyre that offers long life and a tread pattern inspired by the Pilot Sport PS2 that combines aesthetics with all-weather performance.
The Michelin Pilot Exalto PE2’s handling qualities on dry roads stems primarily from the VCP concept. The tread surface on the outer shoulder is maximised to enhance the road contact patch during cornering. This, combined with more effectively distributed ground-pressure in the contact patch, optimises traction, grip and road holding at all speeds, both in a straight line and in corners.
The asymmetric tread pattern of the Pilot Exalto PE2 has a groove to rubber ratio of 30 per cent on the outer shoulder and 38 per cent on the inner shoulder. The outer shoulder, with its fewer grooves, is intended to optimise handling on dry roads. The inside shoulder design takes over on wet surfaces where the larger number of grooves breaks up the film of water and evacuates it through wide longitudinal channels. Michelin used a new silica-based tread compound here for the first time on a production tyre, a compound that grew out of the research the Michelin technology centre conducted on the back of its participation in motorsport competition. The effectiveness of this innovation has been proven on the test track, reports Michelin, with the new generation Pilot Exalto PE2 delivering lap speeds improved by more than 2.5 per cent compared with the previous generation.