Let's start with tires.
I took delivery of a set of 225/45/15, 245/40/17 Rival S tires last Thursday, installed them and set off on the 4.5 hour drive to Pikes Peak International Raceway for the 2015 SCCA Colorado Tour.
I drive my car with the dampers set to their "race" settings. They are harsh. The Bridgestone RE-71R transmits every little bump, crack, sealer seam, etc... right into your body. They are one of the noisier tires I have used in the past 5 or 6 years of auto-xing. The Rival S, on the other hand, damped out some of the harshness. The road noise decreased a bit as well. Overall, I was glad I made the drive to CO on the Rival S vs. the RE-71R.
On the return trip, I encountered a couple of very heavy southwest-style rain storms. The full-tread Rival S was decent in these circumstances. They certainly are not an all season. When the road was completely covered with standing water, I had to slow to limit hydroplaning. The lack of weight over the front tires means they turn into wake boards relatively easily. For standing water auto-x, I will likely use a set of full-tread RE-71Rs.
I made it to PPIR with plenty of time to take practice course runs. First up was the Rival S. The course was simple - acceleration zone into reducing slalom, tight left hander up the hill, hair pin left hander onto a painted section, into an offset gate arrangement towards the finish. The cold grip of the Rival S was not on par with the RE-71R and required some heat to start working. The front had trouble sticking and shock changes didn't make notable improvements. My pressures were 27 and 29 psi. Being that is was just a Tour practice course, I didn't have time to change any/all variables... so, shock settings were my main tool. After 4 runs, they warmed up and reduced front compression helped with turn in. However, the straight-line braking was always lacking. The feel was very similar to the RS3v2s I used last season. I had ice mode issues on almost every run into hard braking sections. My best time with the Rival S was 30.49s.
I slapped on my Bridgestone RE-71Rs (28 runs so far) and turned the shocks back to my baseline settings for them. Pressures were 26 front 28 rear. My first run on them was 30.38s. The braking confidence returned and turn in was much better. My second run on the 'Stones was a 30.01s. I knew which tires I would be using for the CO Tour. The biggest difference was the longitudinal grip. If the braking feel had been similar with the Rival S, it would have been more of a toss up. With the RE-71Rs I had so much more confidence going into the braking zones that I didn't have to brake early or be timid with the brake pedal.
I've decided to keep the set of Rival S tires and take them with me to Lincoln. After Nats last year, I had the chance to test drive the BFG tires on a rubbered-in course. They worked. So, there's a chance the Rival S might shine in that environment more than they did on the PPIR surface. Testing at different pressures and further damper changes might help the Rival S find footing. We'll see...
Now to the CO Tour
- woo hoo... great event. The day 1 course favored a thread-the-needle car/setup. That's what my car is good at. Day 2 allowed high-powered cars to better stretch their legs. I was able to snag 1st in PAX on day 1, 3rd on day 2 and 1st for the overall.
HUGE thanks to BWR
for handling the damper component of my setup.
Day 1 video:
Day 2 video:
There were a total of 5 Lotus at the event, so we decided to get a group photo together. Tom probably has a better version of these.