Back again once more. New Orleans and I have been getting awfully cozy as of late. I’ve been out there in the recent past to drive an Aston Martin Vanquish, experience some Michelin tires, and I even went out to the other side of Louisiana to film an upcoming show that I’ll tell you more about later. Now though, I’m back at the NOLA Motorsports complex, and it’s time to abuse some tires once again. This time the rubber is being supplied by BFGoodrich.
What am I running on? A brand-new ultra-high-performance tire called the G-Force Rival. The name isn’t the greatest (it reminds of basketball shoes from the 90′s), but the name doesn’t matter if the tires perform. The goal for the G-Force Rival? Allowing drivers to have a street tire that is competitive on the track as well.
Testing that goal out at a racetrack seems like a good place to start.
UPDATED: BFGoodrich supplied us with two well-produced videos showcasing drivers far more skilled than I at extracting information from a set of tires. Check it out below.
Similar to the Michelin event I attended, BFGoodrich rounded up a variety of vehicles and placed them at different stations. Each station utilized the same type of vehicle, and the vehicles wore the new G-Force Rival as well as a variety of high-performance tires from competitors. Unlike the Michelin event, the cars involved were far more interesting. I arrived at the NOLA facilities and found some rather special surprises waiting for me. The BMW M3 (E46), Subaru WRX STI, Skip Barber-prepped Mazda MX-5 Miata, and Ford FR500 Mustang were all at my disposal.
Yes, it was a rather good day.
First up, I was sent over to pit lane. My very first station of the day involved the full NOLA Motorsports course and the Ford Mustang FR500. This is a real race car, and a great test at the extreme end of how the tires will be used. The G-Force Rival was placed head-to-head with the Falken Azenis. Behind the wheel of the Mustang I preferred the G-Force Rival rubber. It was easier to set the car up for turns, and the consistency stayed up after a few laps. This made me feel more confident behind the wheel, which is rather important regardless of the type of vehicle you’re driving.
After my track stint was over, I was sent to an autocross track that played host to a gaggle of E46 BMW M3 coupes. I’ve always wanted to drive the E46, and I can report that I came away extremely happy with the car. The gearbox is great, the engine is responsive and makes excellent noise, and car is easy to fling around a coned-off parking lot.
This time the G-Force Rival squared off against the Hankook Ventus. The result was the same as with the Mustang test. This is because BFGoodrich pays close attention to the strength of the sidewall, and the result is a tire that doesn’t roll over on itself or require extra time to setup for corners. Additionally, the G-Force Rival makes use of a saw-toothed shoulder that provides a bit more grip in extreme cornering situations. Essentially, there’s tread that encroaches onto the sidewall, and it’s easily felt when behind the wheel.
After a stop for lunch, I cam back out to the track for my third station of the day. This one took place at a skidpad, and was a bit different than the others. Here, the cars were all Skip Barber-prepped Miatas, and each wore a different BFGoodrich tire. The idea here was to get a feel for the different levels of tires in the G-Force family, from the T/A KDW to the Sport Comp-2 and up to the Rival. Each MX-5 was equipped with an iPad data logger that displayed lateral G’s. As I moved up the tire ladder, I was able to register a higher figure because the tires were able to provide an increasing amount of grip. It was a neat exercise, but I was hoping to get the cars a bit more tail happy. The instructor in the passenger seat was there to make sure that didn’t happen.
The final event of the day was another autocross session, but this time it involved the Subaru WRX STI. Again, it was the same result; the BFGoodrich G-Force Rival proved that it is an excellent tire for driving angry. Also, it doesn’t wear itself out after a full day of driving hard. I was one of the last ones through the Subaru stations, and the BFGoodrich folks stated they hadn’t swapped out the tires after any station. The G-Force Rival-equipped cars still looked to be wearing fresh rubber while the competition looked… worn down. In fact, one of the competitors looked properly trashed. That photo of the G-Force Rival above was taken at the end of the day, and there is another angle in the gallery below.
As the sun set on the NOLA Motorsports Park facilities, I was on a bus making my way to the airport. Time for reflection, and time to think about all the great cars I drove. The standout star, however, was the the new BFGoodrich G-Force Rival. The tire stood up to all sorts of abuse, performed brilliantly, and was ready to keep on rolling. This is a tire that you can put on your favorite street-driven track machine, head out to a track event and abuse the rubber, then head home with plenty of tire to spare. It’s an impressive bit of tire engineering by BFGoodrich, and we expect to see the G-Force Rival making a name for itself at track events across the country.
(Yes, the other standout star was that Mustang… oh baby, she’s amazing)
[Here is a quick(ish) clip I put together from the event. My GoPro wasn't behaving so I only have footage of the E46 autocross and some of the Miata skidpad fun, enjoy!]
BFGoodrich sent over two videos featuring a slate of professional drivers testing out the new G-Force Rival. The second video focuses on 12-time SCCA Champion Andy Hollis, and he’s a person who certainly understands what makes a tire better than its competition.
[Disclaimer: BFGoodrich flew me out to New Orleans and put me up in a lovely hotel. They also took me out to dinner before I ventured out to Bourbon Street for a bit o' drinkin']