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15" wheels and big rubber (long)

Subject: 15" wheels and big rubber (long)
From: Eric <>
Date: Sat, 23 Jun 2001 16:39:35 +0930
OK, obviously this isn't a totally 'good news' story or I would have
posted something ages ago :-)

For those who don't remember, I was heading off the odd 9 hours or so
east (from Adelaide, South Australia) to take part in the great MG
Challenge (sprint & motorkhana) event in Victoria.  I don't have a
trailer for the little car, so I drove it there and back and got various
"hero"/"idiot" comments as it is the middle of Winter here and I cannot
put the top up on the 'B with its competition rollbar in place.

Night-time... rain and wind and fog... nine hours on the road...!  She
went like a dream and of course I arrived DRY - as you do when you keep
up the 65/70mph speed.  I arrived a little later than most (bloody
electricals got me before I took off - but what do you expect when your
negative from your battery is almost falling off at its fixing point on
the body under the car) - about 9:00pm on the Friday night.

Oh yeah, because I had never driven on my new 15" wheels (Nissan
Bluebird TRX) or the Potenza (205/60) tyres, I decided to use the trip
over there to get used to them.  At a NEW price of $AU300.00 each, I
won't be driving on them much more between races! At high speed and on
strange roads, this was a fantastic experience.  Once I got the
confidence up and some heat in the tyres, they were a pleasure to drive on.

Saturday morning we travelled out to Winton (after a couple of scotches
the night before to calm down and thaw out - and a good seven hours
sleep).  The weather was miserable.  Still cold and wet.  The track
looks really interesting and well suited to our little cars with lots of
corners but it certainly doesn't appear to be a 'high speed' track.

To cut a long story short...

I think I should have left the Yokohama A509's (185/60R14) on.  There
was no way that four sprint laps were going to warm up the Potenzas
sufficiently to gain any significant advantage and with the lack of
tread (big blocks of vacant rubber) they were... well, can you imagine
driving on pencil rubbers???  Slippery was not the word for it!

I left the track (it was MUDDY out there) only once during the
'familiarisation' laps they allowed us at the start of the day.  This is
not to say that I didn't go sideways a number of times... I just wasn't
going fast enbough to leave the track at those times.

By the end of the competition laps I think I was just starting to get
the confidence (and maybe the track dried just a little - but only
barely) to start putting in some better lap times, but still my times
were not spectacular as I tip-toed around those bends.  I still don't
think I EVER got out of third gear - or if I did then it was only for a
moment before braking (carefully) for the next bend.  Local knowledge
certainly seemed to win the day for the Victorians out there!

So, my verdict?  I will reserve judgement on these wheels and tyres
until I get to really try them out on a dry (or semi-dry) track.  My
next event is at our local Mallala racetrack on the 1st July and I will
write a proper review of this 'experiment'.  Remember, I could only
START experimenting with tyre pressures, etc. now, so it still may be a
little while before I think I am getting the best (or the best I can)
out of these wheels/tyres.

The drive back was nice and uneventful, except that I still find it
strange driving through the hills coming into Adelaide with instant
frost forming on the windscreen at some points (it is like someone pulls
the blinds shut).

I am hanging out to get those tyres hot and sticky and to finally take
that 'inside line' around those bends that have hung me out to dry on
more than one occasion!

Thanks for listening.

Adelaide, South Australia

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