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High-Performance Tire Considerations for Supercars

Supercars have changed drastically over the last 30 years. Here’s what you need to consider before recommending a tire for your customer’s luxury vehicle.

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Ferrari 458 with Formula Wheels F/Lip-105’s in an ultra custom Black and Polished Finish with Pirelli P Zero tires. Project by Grand Prix Performance. (Photographer: Ted 7)

What a supercar was 30 years ago and what it is today has changed drastically, according to Pirelli.

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“If we are speaking in terms of today’s supercar, it is normally a two-seater coupe platform that is fitted with a tire that has a speed rating of (Y) allowing it to safely travel above 186 mph,” Pirelli says. “The ethos of the car design is tailored around maximum performance, with innovative aerodynamic/mechanical designs that allow the car to have much higher levels of aerodynamic and mechanical grip/speed than a normal car.” 

Duane Sampson, Yokohama Tire’s product marketing manager, gives a broader definition: “Most modern supercars have motors with massive horsepower and torque, feature exotic materials, sculpted looks and cost upward of six figures.”

Whether used on a track or for a joy ride down the highway, these vehicles are the hot rods of the road. When a customer drives their supercar into your lot to snag a set of replacement tires, get to know how they’re using their supercar to best recommend a tire with the handling, comfort and ride quality they experienced with the OE tire or (hopefully) their last tire purchase. 

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Dealer’s Perspective: Navigating Customers Through the UHP Segment

“For a supercar, a dealer should recommend at least a UHP summer tire to customers according to the customer’s driving environment, needs and driving tendencies,” says Terry Smouter, director of sales management at Hankook Tire America Corp. 

Smouter says if a customer is driving a supercar on a track only, a race or competition tire should be recommended. According to Pirelli, most supercar owners who are looking for a more track-oriented tire should be directed to purchase a tire with a softer compound to give the vehicle added levels of grip. 

“A more track-oriented UHP DOT performance tire with a softer compound is more aggressively designed to handle the immense torque/horsepower of modern-day supercars,” Pirelli says.

However, Sampson says it’s often rare that a dealer would recommend a competition tire to a modern supercar customer since many competition tires are V- and W-rated, where most supercars are Y- and (Y)-rated. Plus, a competition-tire buyer typically is “hyper focused” on lap times and the consistency of those lap times. He feels that the majority of supercar customers, in some ways, are no different than an “average car” customer, Sampson adds. 

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When choosing the proper replacement tire for these vehicles, dealers should concentrate on fit, speed rating and grip, Smouter says. 

“The size must fit,” he says. “Supercars are equipped with wheels with large diameters. 

“[In addition,] Supercars have a higher output than regular passenger cars, and many of them are rear-wheel drive. Applying low-grip tires to these vehicles can cause the vehicle to slip, leading to limited performance and potential accidents.”

For more on this topic, see With More Options Than Ever Before, a Booming UHP Segment Emerges.

Check out the rest of the September digital edition of Tire Review here.

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