Goodyear is currently making a bit of a comeback in motor sport.
After a quiet few years in the competitive driving and riding worlds, the American tyre maker has recently announced a series of new deals with major teams and championships.
From next year it will be the official tyre supplier to the British Touring Car Championship and European Le Mans series, will be providing tyres to four teams in the World Endurance Championship and has recently been announced as the tyre brand of choice for the Brabham BT62 track car.
While all these teams will be using track-specific race tyres, Goodyear has also launched a new range of performance tyres that aim to bring some of that track technology to the road.
Which is why I found myself spending a week with a 400+bhp BMW doing everything from the school run to dozens of laps of a racing circuit, trying to determine if the latest “race-inspired” road tyre holds up in very mixed use.
The Eagle F1 Supersport is part of a new line of tyres designed specifically for performance cars that will spend most of their time on the road but occasionally be pressed into track day shenanigans – cars like the BMW M2 Competition, which sends 404bhp to the rear wheels with spectacular results.
That means it has to tread a tricky line between offering the grip and consistency you need for track driving with decent all-weather performance and comfort on the road.
To do this Goodyear has introduced extra strengthening panels to the sidewall and main body of the tyre. These anti-deformation elements help keep the sidewall in shape under hard cornering and stop the tread shifting on the layers beneath.
The Supersport also features two different compounds on different sections of the tyre to offer multiple “power-zones” for wet and dry performance and has a “power shoulder” with closed outside tread pattern to give a larger contact patch and more grip under extreme treatment.
That tread pattern means it can’t shift quite as much water out of the way as less track-focused tyres but wet weather performance, even on some biblically wet days, was still reassuring.
As well as the day-to-day, where the car felt as settled as any 400+bhp sports coupe ever will, I spent a full day thrashing around Knockhill as the weather changed and the track went from soaking to dry. Throughout that the tyres remained consistent. It was definitely possible to get then unstuck but hitting the same corner at the same speed saw the BMW behave the same even after dozens of laps.
Knockhill is made up of a lot of nasty corners and sharp direction changes that will chew up the shoulders of tyres but the Supersport showed little sign of damage after several hours of abuse and, indeed, held up better than the poor Beemer’s brakes.
While I was thrashing around trying to make the BMW come unstuck the circuit’s business development manager revealed that they had just fitted the Supersport to their Honda Civic Type R track cars. And, frankly, if three-time BTCC champion Gordon Shedden thinks they’re good enough to fit to his fleet I’m not going to argue.
The point of the Supersport is to be an everyday tyre that can handle the demands of a performance car on the road as well as the track. In a week of regular commuting it felt no different to any other tyre, coping with the big power of the BMW well apart from during one bout of torrential rain. On the track the strengthening and clever compounds gave grip and consistency and despite my best efforts it showed no signs of running out of life even after a full day on track.