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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hoping to get some advice on tire choice and setup here. I've had my 05' elise for a little over a year. I've done 3 HPDE events in the car and feel very comfortable. Setup consists of the following:

Ohlins DA Coilovers
Sector 111 steering arms
Alignment and corner weighting by RaceCo (need to dig up my aligment specs)
Toyo R1Rs (205/45/16 F 235/40/17 Rear)
Home track: Miller Motosports Park

My concern right now is that I may have outgrown the Toyo R1R tires that are on the car. They seem to get hot very quickly (about 3 laps in) and lose grip. I can feel the tire squirm increase on turn in and the grip throughout long sweeping corners tends to decrease. I'd like to move to a 15/16 setup to eventually move to a stickier race oriented tire (Hoosier, Toyo RA1 or RR, Hankook slick etc.) I've provided some more background info below to demonstrate why I'm thinking this. But my concern is moving to a stickier tire will hide any driver errors and is potentially dangerous as I've heard they lose grip without much warning. My wife drove at the last event and is totally hooked. I want the car to remain as predictable and controllable as possible for her (and I) to build confidence.

First event: West Track: I ran in HPDE 1/2 (blue group) with the local Porsche club. I was one of the fastest cars in my group, got signed off to go solo w/out instructor for the 3rd and 4th session. I have some auto cross and open track experience from several years ago in my former car (Integra Type R.) I picked up the R1Rs from an autox'r on the forums here. They looked to be in good shape. Was running 23-25psi on all 4 tires cold. Got up to 29-30psi warm. Ambient temp in the mid to low 70s. Tires felt great-car felt great. Super stable but probably not pushing the limits of the car at this event.

Second event: East Track this time. PCA again. Ran in the 1-2 run group with an instructor to help me dial in the line. We got caught in serious traffic the first session. The instructor suggested we move up front to avoid traffic. We would end up catching nearly the entire field before the end of each session. Instructor commented on how good the car felt. I was driving a smooth consistent line and on good pace. He suggested I could move up to 3 at the next event. Same tire pressures, similar ambient temp. No changes to the car. Felt great pretty much the entire day, but the tires seemed to lose grip by about 5-6 laps into the last session. LOTS of melted rubber on the edges of each tire groove. Also stuck inside the fender wells.

Third Event: West track with NASA. Got bumped to HPDE 3 based on consultation with the race director (I knew him from previous autox events.) My wife was running in the HPDE 1 and 2 group so the car was seeing double duty. MASSIVE Run group (30ish cars) including the TT cars. Felt like I was spending more time watching my mirrors more than driving the line. Several of the TT cars were brutally fast. First 3 sessions were not good. Felt substantially off pace and could not get the car to grip enough in corners to run the pace I was used to. Ambient temp was also much higher ~90-95deg. Kept the tire pressures in the mid 22-24psi range cold/29-31psi hot. After talking with the local shop that aligned/corner weighted my car, they suggested bumping tire pressures up for the last session. They have another elise they setup running ~30psi cold. Gave this a shot and also got an instructor to ride with me to make sure I wasn't completely off line. .

4th session felt MUCH better. Back on pace. Instructor had little to no comments, basically "you're driving this just like I would" When we started the session chunks of rubber were coming off and flying into the car lol! The instructor commented on that being odd. After the first lap of burning that stuff off the car started to feel planted and my confidence started to come back. Once I got home and unloaded the car the tires looked pretty rough. All of the edges of the tread had alot of melted/rolled over rubber. Also found a substantial amount of rubber inside the wheels and behind the oil cooler vents..



My remaining questions right now are:

Stick with the R1Rs or move to a more heat tolerant tire? Is there a better tire that provides the predictability and warning at the limit while being more heat tolerant? I was thinking the RA1s might be the ticket but have read they are the same rubber compound as the R1R. I would eventually like to move to a Hoosier R6, but not sure if now is the time. I'm sure I have more to learn.

Also what are the thoughts on pressures of 20ish psi cold vs. 30psi cold?

To anyone who is patient enough to read that madness-thanks in advance!
 

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I don't *think* this is biased advice :)

I was in mostly the same position as you, ran re-11's for 3 years... based on your description it sounds like they handle track temps better than r1r, but at the end of the day its still easy to over drive them and make them greasy (even easier on hot days).

RA1 and R888 are supposed to be the same compound, but R888 will wear out before the wear bars, compared to RA1 which are sticky down to the cord (but for some reason offer less dry grip according to toyo, which is probably based on the design of the tread blocks).

I think most of the people I know run r888 because there isn't much other choice for a track tire you can run on the street in 16/17 lotus wheels, other than very expensive a048.

I chose to get 15/16 rims and run ra1 because my research said they were less resistant to heat cycles and were good down to the cord. I will say that this summer hasn't featured any really hot days, but on ra1 I never felt them get greasy even if I over drove them a little bit.

Now that I can't run 15/16, I'm going to join the rest of the lotus gang around here and shod my LSS in R888 and see what happens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I don't *think* this is biased advice :)

I was in mostly the same position as you, ran re-11's for 3 years... based on your description it sounds like they handle track temps better than r1r, but at the end of the day its still easy to over drive them and make them greasy (even easier on hot days).

RA1 and R888 are supposed to be the same compound, but R888 will wear out before the wear bars, compared to RA1 which are sticky down to the cord (but for some reason offer less dry grip according to toyo, which is probably based on the design of the tread blocks).

I think most of the people I know run r888 because there isn't much other choice for a track tire you can run on the street in 16/17 lotus wheels, other than very expensive a048.

I chose to get 15/16 rims and run ra1 because my research said they were less resistant to heat cycles and were good down to the cord. I will say that this summer hasn't featured any really hot days, but on ra1 I never felt them get greasy even if I over drove them a little bit.

Now that I can't run 15/16, I'm going to join the rest of the lotus gang around here and shod my LSS in R888 and see what happens.
That was my concern with R888s. They don't seem to have much life. With m y wife and I pulling double duty I'd like to have a tire that lasts a bit longer.

Would you say the RA1s were pretty progressive at the limit? ie they give you a bit of warning before letting go?

I've heard that Toyo planned to completely do away with the RA1 in place of the R888 but they are so popular they brought them back.

I had some RA1s years ago on my Integra. They were full tread depth and not heat cycled. They felt horrible on turn in and had tons of squirm. I attribute that more to the full tread depth than the tire design though.
 

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Based on the research I've done toyo seems to have tires with softer side walls, which also contributes to what you describe (treadblocks being a bigger contributor on unshaved tires).

I will say that I had no problems catching the car, but I also felt that way about re-11. I haven't ever run slicks so I've got limited experience on many different tires on track (ie having a tire who's grip level falls off a cliff)
 

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You and I seem to have about the same level of driving ability. What you described sounds identical to my first year of Lotus ownership (this year). Once you get the hang of the car and what it's good at, if you have prior experience on the track with other cars you start to progress very fast and become a pest to slower drivers. Funny you mention PCA, because my instructor at Mid-Ohio thought my Elise handled much better than his track prepped Cayman. Thank you V2 Motorsports!:)

I've been running R888's on the track. They're A-OK but I experience the same issues you do with them. Half-way through the session, they get greasy and you really have to make sure you don't overdrive them. I learned the hard way having a nice tank-slapper moment through turn 12 at Grattan this weekend. Recovered perfectly though!

I like R888s a lot of street, but that wasn't my primary decision to buy them at the beginning of the year. I wanted a good entry level track tire for the Lotus that wasn't too expensive and I could drive home on. Mission accomplished with the R888.

Even though the Advan A048 costs as much as a Hoosier, it's probably what I'm going to buy next until I've saved up enough money for a tow vehicle and trailer. I bought a set of extra wheels with Hoosier A6s from a friend, but don't have a trailer to get them to the track yet. My wife isn't very up for being a chase vehicle either:rolleyes:

If you can get a separate set of wheels to the track it's probably time to move into a Hoosier or Hankook road race tire. The 15-16" wheel combo will open up the Hankook Z214 door since the sizes are unfavorable for the 16-17" combo.

Have fun and let us know how it goes!
 

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I think you should try R6s. I find them to be just as easy to drive than stock tires, if not easier, and they last a season for me.

If you want to save some money you can try Hankook Z214s instead. They seem very close to the R6s in performance to me, if not slightly stickier, and are about 2/3 the price. No word on durability yet as I have not been able to get to the track much this year.
 
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