In a video sure to make all 8th grade science students green with envy, Randy “The Rocket” begins his science fair project with the scientific question, “How do cheap tires affect the performance of a Corvette?” To begin, the always cheery Pobst does a walkaround on the Blade Silver Z51 Corvette that Motor Trend brought along for the experiment which is highlighted by his calling the LT2 a Christmas ham.
Next, Pobst heads out for a controlled lap on the Z51s specially designed Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. As equipped from the factory, with the track alignment engaged, the C8 performs marvelously. Randy visibly enjoys the C8 experience all the way to a drama-free 1:28.48 lap time. For those who are interested in such things, that E.T. lands the C8 directly between another pair of Chevrolet performance cars on Randy’s all-time Big Willow leader board; the C6 Grand Sport with the Callaway SC627 package (1:28.61), and the 2014 Camaro Z/28 (1:28.4). It is also within striking distance of some much more exotic hardware (with the extreme rubber to match) as the Mercedes-AMG GT S, 991-Generation 911s Turbo S and GT3, and the McLaren 570S all turned in times in the 1:27s with Randy behind the wheel.
After a call to Matt Edmonds, the CEO of show sponsor, Tire Rack, a “recommended mobile installation expert” jacks the Corvette up and throws on a set of off-brand, “tier three or four” tires which they are sure to inform the audience would never be sold at Tire Rack.
With the low-rent shoes installed, Randy skittishly sets off again down the fastest road in the west. His demeanor is noticeably different this time around and he says that cornering on the budget rubber is like rally driving on the dirt but the ‘Vette still shoots out of the corners beautifully. When the dust settles and randy steers his mount into the pits, thankful to be alive, the clock reveals a loss of more than five seconds. The final tally is 1:33.57, or Lexus GS-F territory.
This astounding result is sure to win Randy and his team a blue ribbon at the Junior High Science Fair! A difference of five seconds per lap is huge in any race, but on just one lap of a 90ish-second track, it is an eternity. Put it this way; if they competed in a 24-hour endurance race (in a perfect world, without pit stops or driver changes) the Michelin-equipped Stingray would be more than 53 laps ahead of its frugal-footed twin by the time the checkered flag came out.
The moral of the story, kids, is that, although expensive, good tires are always worth the price of admission. Without them, you turn your supercar into just a car, and what is the point of that? The silver-lining, from an earlier test where MT swapped the previously mentioned Camaro Z/28’s tires/wheels with the ones on its little SS 1LE brother, is that performance might not fall off too bad as long as you don’t get too economical when replacing tires. The more you know!
MotorTrend / YouTube
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