So if market forces aren’t pushing new product development, what is? For that, you can look towards Michelin’s deep-seated roots in motorsport, and its current involvement in the World Rally Championship, Formula E and Le Mans, where last year it took its 25th
This, in turn, is how Goodwood Road and Racing finds itself at the Thermal Club circuit in California, about to test the new tyre against two of its competitors. For those unfamiliar with Thermal, it is an ultra-exclusive private race resort where membership entails buying a plot of land next to the circuit and building your own house. Perhaps it’s not surprising that the calibre of cars dotted about the place is second only to the Michelin Supercar Paddock at FoS. On our visit we spotted an Aston Martin Vulcan, a Ferrari F12 TdF, and not one but two Porsche 911s reimagined by Singer.
It was something of a bump back down to earth, therefore, when it was revealed that our tyre test would take place in a trio of BMW 340i saloons. The reality, of course, is that for this kind of activity you need consistency and predictability, and so a reasonably powerful BMW was actually ideal – or so I kept telling myself as the Vulcan’s V12 shrieked in the distance.The challenge was to test the new tyre around a course that allowed cornering grip on both wet and dry surfaces to be assessed, as well as dry braking (recorded via a GPS-based V-Box).
Our first laps were on a Pirelli P Zero Nero GT (as with all the tyres in 235/35 size, wrapped around 19-inch wheels). Cornering grip in both the wet and the dry was good, with just a touch of understeer when pushed, and our shortest stop in the 62-0mph brake test was 34.68 metres.