Test Driving Corvettes with Michelin's New Pilot Sport Cup Tires

Don Sherman
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Before Michelin allowed us to shred rubber on the track, the combined intelligence of the assembled journalists was doubled during a few short classroom sessions. The highpoints of what I learned are:

  • The PS2 has two distinct tread patterns and two different tread compounds aimed at optimizing both wet and dry adhesion.
  • A more flexible outer sidewall construction allows a controlled amount of flex during cornering so that the rubber patch in contact with the pavement grows under load to deliver maximum grip.
  • During straight-line driving, the contact patch is symmetrical for best acceleration and braking traction.
  • Both sidewalls and the overall PS2 construction are aimed at safely supporting the vehicle for 50 or so miles after a complete deflation.
  • The key to maximum dry grip is an outer groove-to-rubber ratio of 30-percent (tread block area more than twice the void area). The PS2's key to maximum wet grip is an inner groove-to-rubber ratio of 40-percent (ample area for water to be evacuated away from the tread).

Upon graduation, we were ushered to the 1.5-mile road course and a half-wet gymkhana to put our knowledge to work.

Comparing a regular PS2 to the new ZP version of the tire on a regular C6 Corvette, I observed that the ZP has a distinctly stiffer feeling with less resilience. Fortunately, that doesn't seem to impose any notable deterioration in ride quality. The two were about equal in grip though the ZP version seemed to provide better control at the ragged extremes when keeping the tail in line can be a concern. In wet tests, I preferred the more controllable, predictable, and catchable standard PS2 (without ZP capability).

The second opportunity was to compare the new PS2 ZP to the current OE Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires on Corvette Z06s. Here the amazing discovery was how much additional grip is provided by the new Michelins, now available as a replacement fitment. I can't think of a quicker or easier way to significantly upgrade performance than swapping out a set of used F1s for new Pilot Sport PS2 ZPs on any Corvette Z06.

On wet pavement, the PS2s bit through the water to hold the Corvette tenaciously to its cornering line. There was so much adhesion available that the front of the car chattered at the understeer limit as it held then lost grip in a highly predictable manner. The Goodyear was easy to slide around the course but its speed through the wet portion of the gymkhana was notably slower.

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