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A car on rails: Vredestein Tyre Review

Published by on Nov 21st, 2013, No Comments

I’m at the World Karting Championships and I’ve just qualified 33rd out of 70 competitors at the Al Ain International Kart Circuit. It’s not going well.

Overnight we make a key change to our setup and the next day I finish on the podium in all three of my knockout heats. I start the pre-final 3rd and eventually land up 6th in the world and 2nd in the Nations Cup – a podium and a trophy.

Rotax Max World Championships, 2007

What was the key change? Tyre pressures. We went from the lowest pressure we had ever tested to a tyre pressure so high that we never even considered it.

The reason we could make such a radical adjustment without batting an eyelid was because when I raced for Kartsport SA I was their official tyre tester. It’s one of my favourite jobs as a racing driver. If you can master tyres then you hold a distinct advantage in motor racing. Just ask Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel.

And so we fast forward to 2013 and I am in my Audi S5 rolling off the brakes and tipping it into a sharp left-right switchback. I anticipate the rear to step out a bit followed by some uncomfortable trademark Audi-understeer.

Instead what happens is I nail the lefthand apex and swiftly twitch the steering right to hit another lovely apex.

Three corners later and braking harder for a hairpin I experience the same thing. I’m blown away, my car has transformed from an understeer machine to something liken to being on rails.

I’m experiencing this magic because my car has just been fitted with a brand new set of Vredestein tyres, their top of the range 225/35 19’s.

photo 1

Once I’d ‘run in’ the tyres during a gentle 25km drive it was time to let them settle overnight and see how they felt the next day.

The first thing that struck me was how much smoother the ride was compared to my previous tyres. The sidewalls are definitely more compliant compared to what I had before.

Another attribute which I think is worth mentioning is that there is very minimal road noise when cruising at highway speeds. Sometimes with a wide set of tyres you will experience a considerable amount of road noise but it seems that the Vredesteins do a decent job of scrubbing that out.

I have owned many cars during my short life span and in that time I have tried tyres from the best manufactures – Bridgestone, Pirelli, Michelin, Dunlop etc. – but none of them have come close to what I have experienced with this set of Vredesteins.

They are just so grippy at high speed and yet so compliant when cruising around town. Audis are notorious for understeer and yet with the Vredesteins fitted to my car I feel like I cannot own another type of tyre again. They are that good.

The only concern that I had with my set, was that when they were brand new there was a bit of movement under heavy acceleration. The movement was a result of the brand new tread flexing. Though it caught me off guard initially I realised that this was a result of them being literally brand new and after the 25km run-in, that movement was gone.

Two days after fitting the tyres there was some torrential rain in Cape Town which gave me the opportunity to test their wet weather ability.

photo 2

There is a neat little section near my house which includes a long right followed by a sharp left that leads into a traffic circle. I’ve done this section 1000 times in wet and dry. I decided to give it a go with the new tyres and the result was difficult to describe.

Instead of the front washing away as I switched from right to left, I could feel the rear of my car grip and squat, leaning on the right rear heavily, the weight transfer gave me a great sensation through the steering wheel which instilled confidence and confirmed just how good these tyres are.

A great set of tyres that are going to do very well in the South African market.

Read the other Vredenstein review by Minnaar Pieters.

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