Bridgestone's “Big Huge Fun” multiple product launch at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which included seat time on such tires as Bridgestone's Turanza Serenity Plus and Potenza RE970AS as well as Firestone's Destination LE2, was finally capped off with a visit to Exotics Racing, a company that provides seat time in some of the world's hottest supercars; including the Lamborghini Gallardo, Ferrari 458 Berlinetta, Nissan GT-R and many more, all on their 1.4 mile track with an instructor in the right seat. Exotics Racing, as our orientation instructor Dave Roberts noted to us, equips many of their cars with Potenza RE-11's because they are both sticky and long-wearing, thus making the best of economic sense.
As if doing crazy things with cars in a gigantic empty parking lot while warplanes from nearby Nellis AFB flew in endless relays above our heads wasn't already enough to give the male portion of the journalists present a bad case of testosterone poisoning, now they pull out the supercars. Oh, ok... if you insist.
- A smooth-rolling, sticky tire.
- Very good tread life reported.
- Expensive and specialized.
- The RE-11 uses a tread design derived directly from F1 racing tires, a technology that Bridgestone calls Stealth. Essentially, Stealth aims to blur the line between tread blocks and the grooves between them by rounding the edges of the tread, creating somewhat flared-out grooves which evacuate water quickly.
- The tread is also designed with interlocking Stealth Blocks which along with some 3-dimensional siping patterns act to prevent the tread blocks from flexing beyond a certain point, preventing tread squirm and thus increasing grip.
- The RE-11, as with many of the best high-performance tires, uses 2 steel belts that are spiral-wound with nylon thread for greater stability at high speeds.
- The new asymmetrical design emphasizes wet grip on the inner shoulder of the tire with greater siping and more grooves. The outer shoulder has larger tread blocks that are mostly unsiped to give a wide, flat contact patch in dry conditions.
- Reinforced outer shoulders reduce the contact patch deformation that can happen during high-g cornering.
- Squared-off shoulders and a stiffened center rib give precise and snappy turn-ins.
So, I got the Lamborghini Gallardo for a pulse-pounding 5 laps of adrenaline overload. How did I do with a supercar? Well, you can check out the video, kindly provided by Exotics Racing. Ride along at 110 mph as my right-seater cheerfully barks instructions at me! “Upshift! Upshift! Brake! Downshift! Turn in! Go! Go! Go!”
After it was over, I Tweeted:
“Just did 5 laps in a Lamborghini Gallardo from Las Vegas @exoticsracing. Feel like I should be asking the car if it was good for her too.”
The Gallardo's lack of weight in the front did make me feel as if it was ready to understeer at any moment, and I think the alarming number of owners who actually total their Lambos on the first drive away from the dealership might belatedly attest to the car's ability to do just that. I attribute the total lack of any actual understeer largely to the Potenza RE-11's. The tires felt permanently attached to the track and ran as smooth as silk. Steering response was genuinely snappy on turn-ins and they took hard braking and acceleration without even a chirp, laying down that ridiculous amount of torque straight to the pavement.
The Bottom Line
Potenza RE-11's are expensive and very specialized, it's true, but extremely sticky and long-wearing is a hard combination to beat, especially for a racer who also runs on the street. That the Potenzas get very good wear was independently confirmed for me by racing drivers who have been posting their wear data on forums.
Count Exotics Racing's Dave Roberts as one who thinks the initial expense is worth it in the long run. “We're a private company. We can run whatever tires we want... What we get out of the Potenza – we get great grip, we get great life, and that helps on our bottom line.”
Available in 34 sizes from 195/50R15 to 305/30R19
UTQG Rating: 180 A A
Treadwear Warranty: None.