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Getting Serious: Market Shift Towards Performance Drives Toyo’s New UHP Flagship Tire

Market Shift Towards Performance Drives Toyo’s New UHP Flagship Tire

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Can a passenger tire ever match the handling characteristics and heat and speed tolerance of a pure race tire? Not likely. But one tiremaker says it can come pretty close.

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On Mar. 31, Toyo Tire (USA) Corp. invited journalists from all over North America to journey to a test track at former military base MCAS (Marine Corps Air Station) El Toro near Irvine, Calif.

The dusty Santa Ana Mountains rose in sharp contrast over the smoothly paved runways of the El Toro track. There, journalists had the chance to drive racecars fitted with Toyo’s new Proxes T1R ultra-high performance tires. Driving unbridled across the massive runways of a former military base proved to be a moving experience.

And, just for the launch of the Proxes T1R tire, Toyo enlisted the help of celebrities. Kenny Sargent, host, president and founder of the motorsports radio show SpeedFreaks, was on hand to help Toyo with its launch festivities. And, renowned drifting stars Ken Gushi, Stephan Papadakis and Tarzan Yamada offered journalists rides in their tricked-out cars.

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In the midst of all that fast-paced excitement, though, was a carefully conducted, serious tire launch – so serious, in fact, that the new Proxes T1R UHP was described as Toyo’s new “flagship” product.

The tiremaker is investing much of its production energy and marketing dollars in the UHP market, which it sees as the fastest growing segment in North America.

“Passenger cars are becoming more performance oriented, demanding better ride comfort and handling characteristics from replacement tires,” Travis Roffler, Toyo’s senior director of marketing, told attending journalists.

The Proxes T1R tire, targeting drivers of high-end sport sedans and coupes, replaces its predecessor – the T1S tire, Roffler said. Advances of the new tire over the T1S include better wet/dry performance, less noise and better high-speed stability, he added.

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Key components of the new tire include an “ultra-high molecular polymer, high silica compound,” which minimizes heat produced by high speeds and high cornering loads, Roffler said.

Additionally, according to Toyo, a “unidirectional, V-shaped center tread” aids in water channeling, while rigid shoulders aid cornering grip. The tire’s shoulders also feature a “circumferential rib-band” for lateral handling and quick braking, the tiremaker stated. And, finally, the new tire was constructed with a “spiral-wound edge and cap ply with jointless construction” for high-speed durability, Toyo said.

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Engineers designed the T1R with Toyo’s “T-Mode” computer simulation technology, which uses a computer-aided simulator for pattern noise (CASPAN) and structural analysis computer software (STACS), Roffler said. Computer simulation – which assessed hydroplaning, vibration, and other elements – helped Toyo continually refine performance-related characteristics of the new tire.

The result of all that computer design and testing, according to Toyo, is improved ride comfort, irregular wear resistance and cornering ability – attributes the tiremaker said automotive enthusiasts look for in a tire.

Toyo claimed the new tire is “the most highly tested UHP tire ever produced by the company.” The tire was evaluated on the company’s test track in Japan, at the MIRA Providing Ground in the U.K. and on the fabled Nurburgring race track in Germany.

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And then, of course, at MCAS El Toro.

Initially, the Proxes T1R will be available this month in 52 sizes to fit 14- to 19-inch wheel diameters. Later, Toyo plans to add 33 molds for “secondary production,” resulting in new sizes to fit 16- to 21-inch wheel diameters. The Toyo Proxes T1R has a UTQG rating of 280/AA/A and is available in V, W and Y speed ratings.

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