24 April 2013
Tire tests are always fun. You get to push performance cars to the limit on a track, slide around a skipad, race tight slalom courses and burn through some rubber without putting a dent in your wallet.
The G-Force Rival is the newest performance tire from BFGoodrich to hit the market. Recently I was given the chance to see what it could do at NOLA Motorsports Park, a beautiful new facility just 15 minutes outside of New Orleans that’s packed with plenty of top-grade, race-quality asphalt.
Strapped on to some powerful rides, the Rival was tested against a number of high-level, top-selling industry tires – none of which I’ll name but rest assured they are established competition. Starting off in three Skip Barber Mazda MX-5 Playboy Cup cars, we pitted BFG’s newest tire against its own Sport Comp-2 street tire and the R1 track slick in a skidpad comparison.
Pulling around 1 G on the Sport Comp-2, I move onto the R1-S and blow that result away at 1.2 Gs. Obviously these tires are drastically different, but the move was to show the grip levels of a track slick compared to a performance street tire. Moving onto the Rival, I was pulling close to the R1-S at 1.17 Gs with a healthy squeal. Not only do they hold their own at speed compared to the R1-S, but they don’t hit a cliff and fall off – it felt as if they could have spun for hours.
While the skidpad was fun in the spec Miatas, the real meat and potatoes was the 2013 five-door WRX STI, E46 M3 and the monstrous Miller Ford Mustang FR500S, which if you’re unfamiliar, is a full-on, hollowed-out track destroyer. The Rivals were up for a challenge.
On the slalom, the E46s and STIs hook up with the Rivals as soon as I hit the gas. The tight, twisty turns and hard braking areas keep drivers on their toes all the way to the finish, but the tires remain consistent throughout the runs, allowing me to focus purely on driving.
Despite the blazing sun beating down on track, the tires wore surprisingly well in retrospect, which is more than I can say about the competition. As you can see in the photos, not only were the challengers less responsive in the same conditions and on the same cars, the compounds were literally melting away, affecting grip and tread life. Even more, we were putting in 1.5 more runs on the BFGoodrich tires, but they looked as if they did half the work.
In the Mustang FR500S is when the real test began. With 325 hp at the rear of a stripped SCCA World Challenge GTS race car, things can get squirrely pretty fast, especially with a tire you’re unfamiliar with in extreme situations. In the first run with the challenger, cornering was as I suspected – good, but not stable enough for a car with this kind of power. Mario Andretti once said, “If everything seems to be in control, you’re not going fast enough.” Well, everything didn’t seem to be in control, and I definitely wasn’t going fast enough; it just wasn’t built to handle this kind of stress.
Moving on to the Rivals, I was expecting to have a good gauge of what the tires could do. Lap one felt a bit better than the previous set of rubber, but it was on lap two when things really started to move. You know you’re pushing at a healthy rate when your tires squeal; you don’t want them to scream, but you always want to push to the limit. By lap three I felt comfortable knowing the BFGs could hold well, brake later and link up faster out of the corner. I was literally cutting seconds off my time on the track.
Some of you might be thinking that because I took them out on my second run, of course I’d be more comfortable with them. To combat this, I went back out on the competitors’ tires, but still wasn’t able to get the same result. Needless to say, the difference in performance was a nice surprise.
Much of the Rival’s success is attributed to the ground-up construction aimed at the extreme performance street category. Starting with a Performance Racing Core (PRC), it features a reinforced structure and g-Control sidewall inserts for quick response and control. An ETEC (Equal Tension Containment System) ensures the contact patch always stays where it needs to be. On the exterior, the asymmetric tread design extends beyond traditional tires over the shoulder of the tire (Extreme Tread Edge, or ETE), which makes sense in more ways than one. Not only does it prevent wear when the tire rolls over at speed, it also allows the tire to keep solid grip similar to the tread on the usual contact patch. The silica-infused 200 UTQG compound keeps incredible shape due to tapered, curved lateral treads, while a chamfer system provides excellent stability under braking through even weight distribution across the tire.
Long story short, the technologies throughout the Rival are the reasons it shines. If you’re looking for a high-grip competition street tire, this should be at the top of your list.
The Rival comes in 15 sizes, from:
205 to 335 mm wide
15- to 20-inch diameters