For the past decade, the UHP (Ultra High Performance) segment of the tyre market has seen tremendous evolution. Tyre companies have been creating tyres aimed at assisting the top carmarkers in their quest for extreme track performance.
The emergence of the Ultra Ultra High-Performance (UUHP) tyre segment has triggered a response from Goodyear.
Up till now, Goodyear was patiently watching Michelin and Pirelli redefine the UUHP segment with their Cup 2 and Trofeo tyres. More recently, both Michelin and Pirelli have developed even more extreme R versions of said tyres.
Now, Goodyear is entering the fray with a vengeance.
At its international launch event at the Ascari race track in Spain, Goodyear introduced not one, but four new tyre ranges to the UHP and UUHP battlefields.
Make no mistake, the Ascari circuit is the severest place to pick a fight. Here, manufacturers such as Porsche and Lamborghini carefully pick the best performance tyres to use during their timed laps at the Nurburgring.
A record lap there sends a message that even a year’s worth of TV ads cannot beat.
Almost lost in the thunder of Goodyear’s Supersport family of tyres is the new Goodyear Asymmetric 5, a UHP tyre that succeeds the Asymmetric 3. Goodyear apparently skipped “4” due to feedback from Asian markets.
Goodyear concentrated on improving wet grip for the Asymmetric 5. The entire tread is made of a high silica compound, which helps both wet and dry performance.
The Asymmetric 5 also has Active Braking Technology. The tread blocks are designed to widen their footprints as the tyre is forced into the tarmac. This aids in reducing the braking distance.
The next level is almost a quantum leap from the Asymmetric 5. This completely new family of UUHP tyres is cheekily named Supersport – a moniker Michelin abandoned in favour of the Pilot Sport 4S tyre.
The Supersport name is appropriate for the cars which Goodyear is targeting in both aftermarket and OE (original equipment) homologation as well.
The first tyre model of this family is simply called Supersport. It is suitable for GT type cars up to the level of the Ferrari 488, which we drove around a portion of the Ascari track.
The blend of competitive handling, comfort, wet grip and treadwear is due to what Goodyear calls the Power-Shoulder. It refers to the high dry-grip compound, which is accompanied by a softer compound for the three tread bands called “Dual Plus Technology”.
The tread belting has what the tyre maker calls High Force Construction, a dual steel belt capped by a Powerline Cover. The Powerline Cover is an aramid-nylon hybrid belt that controls expansion at speed.
After the Supersport come the Supersport R and Supersport RS, the most extreme street legal tyres Goodyear has ever produced.
They share construction technology with the Supersport model. But the Supersport R and Supersport RS versions use more ultra-high grip compounds gleaned from Goodyear’s long experience with pure racing rubber compounds.
The tread pattern has more rubber contact and uses a cross tread link design called Bridge Assist to create a firm and stable footprint.
I did several laps in a Porsche 911 GT3 RS fitted with the Supersport R. The grip and handling are the stuff legends are made of. The responses were positive and progressive, and the grip in the corners was vision-blurring.
At the very least, the Supersport R is a match for the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2. Goodyear, however, claims that the Supersport R has more grip. We shall see.
Alas, Goodyear did not give us the opportunity to try the ultimate model – the Supersport RS. But it is not vapourware, as a pair of display-only 911 GT2 RSs were shod with them. The were proudly embossed with Porsche’s famous “N0” homologation code.
Goodyear engineers claim the Supersport RS version can be between three and four seconds quicker than the Supersport R for every minute of lap time. That’s amazing.
The difference is in the ultra sticky compound and shallow tread depth. These are not buffed to race depth. Instead, there is a special mould that creates this “shallow buffed” look. The Supersport RS is meant for trackday use, but remains street-legal.
Goodyear has matched its Asymmetric 5 against Michelin’s Pilot Sport 4 or Pirelli P Zero, and its Eagle F1 Supersport rivals the Pilot Sport 4S or P Zero Corsa.
The Supersport R rivals Michelin’s Pilot Sport Cup 2 or Pirelli Trofeo. The Supersport RS is a direct competitor of Michelin’s Pilot Sport Cup 2R and Pirelli’s Trofeo R.
Goodyear’s four new models mean that motorists are even more spoilt for choice when it comes to tyres. That’s great news for enthusiasts looking to upgrade the performance of their cars.