Bridgestone's Potenza name brand has long been a virtual synonym for extremely high performance and excellent quality. For quite some time now the flagship of the Potenza fleet has been the RE960AS Pole Position, an extraordinarily good Ultra High Performance tire for both dry and wet conditions built to waltz seamlessly between street and track. In the time since the RE960 first graced the stage, however, there has been a quantum evolution in tire technology. The practice of 3-dimensional siping has literally shaken tread designs to their very core, and the advent of silica-based compounds and nanochemical effects have similarly revolutionized the art of rubber compounding. Both of these new technologies take center stage in the long-awaited successor to the RE960, the Potenza 970AS Pole Position. To say that the successor exceeds its predecessor in every way is somewhat akin to noting that Salieri was considered to be an excellent court composer until Mozart breezed into town...
- Easily one of the best UHP street/track tires in existence.
- Ferocious grip in wet or dry conditions.
- Very precise steering control.
The technologies that Bridgestone puts into the RE970AS are rapidly becoming the gold standard throughout the industry for very good reason – they work. As always it is the precise mix and manner that the technologies are used that makes the difference.
- Bridgestone incorporates their new Stealth Block technology into the RE970AS as well as their Max Performance Potenza RE-11. Deriving from F1 racing tires, Stealth Block design blurs the line between tread blocks and tread channels by tapering and rounding off the square edges of the tread blocks. This allows for more and wider channels to evacuate water.
- The RE970AS makes good use of it's new silica-based compound. Silica compounds have lately taken the industry by storm, because the extraordinary wear properties of silica allows compounds to be made much softer and therefore stickier without sacrificing lots of treadwear.
- As an all-season tire designed for high-speed wet performance, the RE970 also makes full use of the new 3-D siping technology, cutting multiple overlapping sipe patterns through the tread blocks to boost wet grip while using the internal topology of the sipes to keep the tread blocks from “squirming” which reduces performance and accelerates wear.
- The RE970AS uses two seamless steel belts spiral-wrapped with nylon to enhance stability at high speeds. A stiff center rib and sidewalls that are reinforced with a hard filler for enhanced steering response.
As part of Bridgestone's multiple product launch at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, we drove the Potenzas on a pretty challenging wet autocross track in a nice zippy BMW 328i. You can see the video of my run here. I think I managed to push the tires pretty hard, and they showed me nothing but grace under pressure.
Steering response was immediate, incredibly precise and loads of fun. The tires have ferocious grip on wet and damp pavement, holding to the course through hard cranking turns and quick chicanes. The grip was so surprisingly good that you can see in the video where I overcorrect several times coming out of a turn, expecting to get a bit of tail slide, and shake my instructor pilot – a Brazilian professional race driver - around in the seat a little.
The Bottom Line
Competition in the Ultra High Performance niche is always intense, and there are a good many fantastic tires with so very little to distinguish one as better than the other that the differences tend to come down to subjective feel. Objectively, Bridgestone seems to consistently place among the top three in the class in measurable stats, and the new RE970AS is certainly no different. Subjectively, the RE970's showed better grip and feel than the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus and felt quite a bit more precise and less springy and active than BFGoodrich Sport Comp 2's. Instead they have a all-business feel to them, a workhorse kind of seriousness, as if they're saying, “Bring it. We'll go where you put us. There? Done. Next?”
Available in 24 sizes from 205/55/16 to 285/30/20
UTQG Rating: 400 AA A
Treadwear Warranty: 40,000 miles