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Street to Track: ExtremeContact Sport

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contipalmsprings1Continental Tire the Americas rolled out its newest ultra-high performance summer tire, the ExtremeContact Sport, during an event in Palm Springs, Calif., in October.

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Designed with the help of five International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) drivers who tested the tire throughout its development, the new UHP summer product is Conti’s latest offering that brings the racetrack to the street.

“We took our knowledge from the track to the street in a whole new way with the ExtremeContact Sport,” said Travis Roffler, director of marketing for Continental. “We chose five of the best sports car drivers in the world to help deliver the performance driving enthusiasts demand in a tire. These drivers pushed our tires to the limits to help develop a tire that includes superb dry handling while not sacrificing any of Continental’s award-winning performance in the wet. This summer tire is ideal for sports cars and sport and luxury vehicles.”

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Racing Inspiration

Continental has been growing its racing connections for some time, with the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and getting its General tire brand in stock car racing earlier this year in Daytona as part of a co-development venture with Hoosier Tire.

Now that Continental has successfully acquired Hoosier after years of partnerships with the company, Conti has even more room to grow its racing technology, bringing that technology to its consumer tires – potentially gearing up the company to start catering even more to the enthusiast driver.

“Really everybody is going to enjoy the technology marriage that we are going to bring together, combining the R&D capabilities of a small company like Hoosier Racing Tire along with a large company like Continental Tire that has a global footprint,” said Roffler, adding that the acquisition will also help the tiremaker drive its technology, research and development in pushing tires for the street.

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During the three-year development of the Extreme Contact Sport, IMSA drivers Andy Lally, Joao Barbosa, Lawson Aschenbach, Ozz Negri and Ryan Dalziel tested a variety of different tire constructions and compounds at Road Atlanta and Conti’s Uvalde Proving Grounds in Texas. According to Continental, 2,000 tires were tested between the racers and about 20,000 hours of machine testing was completed during development.

With the help of the IMSA drivers, Conti said it was able to truly push the tire to the limits that even professional tire testers wouldn’t be capable of. The drivers’ personalities and likenesses will also be featured in POS materials for tire dealer showrooms and marketing materials at SEMA Show during the tiremaker’s “Extreme Experience.”

Testing the Technology

As part of its introduction and to further test the tire’s capabilities, Continental invited media, tire dealers and tire distributors to the racecar driver’s oasis, the BMW Performance School’s Thermal Club in Palm Springs.2-extremecontact-sport

In the middle of the desert, guests experienced the tires in a series of driving exercises on cars ranging from a BMW M3 to a souped-up Porsche Cayman to a Ford Mustang with killer horsepower.

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Steering and wet/dry handling on ExtremeContact Sport tires was tested on autocross courses, timed laps and lead/follow exercises on the various tracks at the Thermal Club.

Built for car enthusiasts and consumers who drive premium sports cars, luxury sports cars, muscle cars or roadsters, the ExtremeContact Sport offers grip for drivers in dry and wet conditions, Conti said.

The evolution of the ExtremeContact DW, which launched in 2009, the new tire has improved wet handling, road noise, comfort and tread life, Continental said.

“The target for the next generation product is enhanced dry handling, maintaining our leading wet performance and also street manners, as these tires can be driven just about every day, and, last but not least, improved tread life,” said Bob Liu, product manager performance tires for Continental Tire.

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To reach these targets, ExtremeContact Sport features Continental’s SportPlus technology.

“The key technology for us is SportPlus Technology,” Liu adds. “And it’s really focused on the main consumer benefits that someone buying this type of tire is looking for, so it’s the precise handling, security on wet, slippery roads – it’s not always dry out there – and tread life. Consumers are always concerned about tread life.”

The tire’s compound is also designed to help the tire on wet road conditions. Using Continental’s patented +Silane technology, silica is bound into the tread to give the tire better wet traction and durability.

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For safety measures, Continental has also included its “Tuned Performance Indicators” with the D (Dry) and W (Wet) letters in the tread, indicating the tire’s optimal performance levels in dry and wet conditions. If a customer drives in the rain often, it’s time to replace the tire when the W is no longer visible. When the D is worn off, the tread depth is below the safe minimal tread depth most states require, and it’s time to replace the tire.

Plus, to resolve soft steering complaints from some ExtremeContact DW users, the new tire features high-strength, two-ply sidewalls and a sports sidewall insert to increase stiffness for handling up to 86%, but only increasing ride quality stiffness by 6%, according to Liu.

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ExtremeContact Sport will be available in 71 sizes, ranging from 15- to 20-inch wheel diameters with a W and Y speed rating, in February 2017.

The tire is also backed Conti’s new Total Confidence Plan, which offers consumers a 60-day customer satisfaction trial (or 2/32 inch of treadwear) and 12-month road hazard coverage (or first 2/32 inches) as well as a 72-month manufacturer’s limited warranty program.

Plus, a 30,000-mile limited mileage warranty and three-year flat tire roadside assistance (or towing up to 150 miles) is available.

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