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Toyo T1-S impressions & Laguna Seca (archive)

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Posted by ramblings... (long) Animboy on March 06, 2001 at 02:18:27:

Last week, I took one long hard look at my balding Michelin Pilot Sports and decided that enough was enough. The time for new tires had finally come. Based on the rants and raves from the members of this board, I'd pretty much made up my mind to go with the Yoko AVS Sports in the stock size - 225/45 front and 245/40 rear. Conversion Techniques in Oakland came highly recommended by a few people, Rodger mainly, so I decided to take the car to them. The owner of the shop, John, said that they were out of the Yokos for the moment, but had some brand spankin' new Toyo T1-S tires in stock that were actually a bit cheaper than the AVS Sports. He also recommended to I go 235/40 front and 265/40 rear so I could put more meat on the road. "What the hell," I said, "go ahead and do it."

After picking my car up, I wasn't so impressed with the Toyo's performance right off of the bat. Quite a bit of wheel spin in the wet and significant understeer in the twisties. Two days after having them mounted, I traveled down to Monterey, CA's historic Laguna Seca Raceway for a NASA track day. I was very eager to see how my new rubber would do on the track.

First off, let me say that Laguna Seca is a wonderfully quick, challenging, and scenic track. Anyone who has the opportunity to race there should do so. Nothing beats coming down through the corkscrew at full bore and immediately hitting that left hander that just sucks you down onto the track like it was magnetized. Sear Point is more challenging and Thunder Hill is more balls-out, but IMHO neither beat the atmosphere of Laguna.

So - back to the tires. After my first 20 minute run (which was my first ever on Laguna) I came away disappointed once again. The wider tires and taller sidewalls gave the car a mushier feeling both in braking and cornering. In turn 2, a 180 degree slightly downhill u-turn, I was getting a ton of understeer. I thought to myself "I wonder if I can return these things after a day at the track?" Probably not - so I just hoped for the best. The second time I went out, it was a totally different story. I think it was partially because I knew the track better and had become more accustomed to the new treads (and had broken them in more), but I was suddenly lovin' the Toyos! Yeah the car felt a little mushy, but aside from turn 2, my M Coupe was totally glued to the ground and felt very neutral. Coming out of turn 11, a 90 degree left hander on to the front straight, I punched it in second gear right after the apex and, while the Michelins would have allowed me to kick the tail WAY out, I couldn't get the Toyos to budge! Like glue, I'm telling ya'! On the limit, the Toyos proved to be very progressive in their break away, which was a welcome trait. The third time out was more of the same, but even better. The fourth session turned out to be very interesting as it had started to rain heavily and the track was absolutely soaked. Most of the more expensive cars bowed out, but me an my trusty M hung on in there and went out on the Laguna Slip and Slide. Tuned out that the Toyos were excellent in the rain as well! Yeah, it wasn't all that hard to get 45 degrees out of shape, but the progressive give of the T-1Ss made what would've otherwise been a treacherous outing very enjoyable. The car was totally neutral in the wet, save for turn 2 (that damn corner). I ended up being the quickest car on the track by quite a margin, mostly thanks to the awseome grip I the T-1Ss provided (mixed in with a pinch of decent driving).

Also worth mentioning is that on the drive home up Hwy 101, I narrowly avoided an accident by about half an inch on either side of my car. Without the Toyos on there, I would've been sandwiched in between a skidding idiot and a non-signaling quick lane changing asshole. Thank you Toyo and BMW for making such wonderful products :)

To summarize, I love these tires! I just had to #1 - break them in and #2 - get used to the slightly mushier feel and more progressive break away. By the way, did I mention that the treadwear rating is 280 (the Michelins were 220 or 230 I think)? They should last me a good 23-25k miles. It would be interesting to see how 225/45s and 245/40s would compare in traction and road feel. Any volunteers?

Cheers,

Kevin
'00 M Coupe



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