Nitto NT01 R-compound TireIf your circuit skills are advancing and you're enjoying three or more track days per season, consider purchasing a dedicated set of wheels and R-compound tires. This will save wear and tear on expensive performance street tires, while providing vastly improved grip when lapping. R-compound tires are designed to provide optimum adhesion at track use temperatures, typically ranging between 160 to 220 degrees F. This, of course, requires careful and complete warming up of the tires before going for that new lap record. Also, most R-compound tires do not perform well in wet conditions due to their specialized rubber compounds, the lower working temperatures and significantly reduced tread depths (use a street setup on wet track days; wear will be minimal and the additional tread depth will evacuate standing water).
Nitto Tire USA provided a set of Nitto NT01 R-compounds for us to test at the track. The NT01 has a specially formulated compound for hot on-track performance that delivers extreme cornering grip for faster and more consistent lap times. An asymmetrical, non-directional tread pattern allows easy rotation on either standard or staggered setups. The tire also has an extremely large outer shoulder to maximize the contact patch under heavy cornering. The tread depth is 6/32 of an inch (about half that of a performance summer tire) and it can be shaved to 3/32 of an inch to reveal a 'slick' tread surface with two circumferential tread grooves. This NT01 is manufactured with a high-modulus rayon carcass and body ply construction for maximum lateral and high-speed stability.
Trackside, the NT01s perform admirably under dry conditions. Turn-in and feedback are precise and reliable. Cornering grip is astounding, while the breakaway qualities feel progressive and forgiving, although the NT01s make virtually no audible warning (i.e. no screeching, a common trait of R-compounds). They also display excellent consistency throughout the day even when track temperatures fluctuate. Neither do they become "greasy" toward the end of a longer session as long as tire pressures are managed properly. Optimum cornering grip and even tire wear occurs with hot tire pressures of 42-43 psi. With a wear rating of 100 UTQG, they hold up to punishment and testing over several track outings on our 3,200-pound test car. Check out the quantitative data presented in the upcoming sixth installment of Project Z4M.
Nitto NT01s are DOT-approved, so you could drive to an event with them already fitted (but be aware of their slightly lower grip level when below the track temperature range). One minor negative point: They're rather noisy on the street at low speeds. But this is a small price to pay for supreme dry track performance. -Doug Neilson
Nitto NT01s are currently available in the following sizes:205/55ZR-14205/50ZR-15225/45ZR-15245/50ZR-16205/40ZR-17215/45ZR-17225/45ZR-17235/40ZR-17245/45ZR-17255/40ZR-17275/40ZR-17P315/35ZR17225/40ZR-18235/40ZR-18245/40ZR-18275/35ZR-18275/40ZR-18P315/30ZR-18
Nitto Tire USA Inc. 888.398.7361 www.nittotire.com