A long-time fan of Bridgestone tyres, Cameron Bell has managed to get one of the first few sets of Potenza RE-71R fitted to his Honda NSX. Here’s his impression after his first track day with the RE-71R at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Many times in the past when looking to replace tyres, I have looked at various makes and models of tyres on international websites and had always been disappointed to find out that they aren’t available locally. Well, finally one of the tyres have become available – the Bridgestone RE-71R. I was lucky enough to try them out at Sydney Motorsport Park fitted to my 1991 Honda NSX.
This tyre is an “Extreme Performance Summer” road tyre. Basically, think of it as the closest thing to a semi-slick or R-compound tyre without being quite as compromised when used on the street. The tyre has large central tread grooves so it is quite capable in the wet. I was also really impressed with how quiet these are on the road.
I had the tyres fitted up locally in Tamworth and headed towards Sydney on the fresh set of RE-71Rs. Something that stood out to me on the highway was how direct the initial turn-in feels. Almost zero tread squirm and a very natural feel and feedback through the steering. It is confidence inspiring and very good considering the tyres hadn’t even scuffed in yet!
I used the first track session to get a bit of a feel for the car and tyres, as well as finding my lines. It had been a while since I had last been out on SMSP. After an easy out-lap, I started to push the car a little harder through some turns and wow. The grip levels and steering feedback were already impressive and I hadn’t even scratched the surface of what these tyres can do. After pitting in, the tyre pressures were about 3-4psi too high. So I dropped them to around ~30psi hot in preparation for session 2.
About half a lap into session 2, the extra grip from the drop in tyre pressure was obvious. These RE-71R tyres just grip and grip and grip! It seriously felt like a sticky set of R-comp tyres were fitted. If I didn’t already know that these were a street tyre before going out on track I wouldn’t have believed it at this point. The turn-in felt sharp and predictable, the mid-corner feel was awesome and almost no steering corrections were required once set in the corner. It was simply brilliant. The RE-71R has a stiff sidewall which is really evident by how the tyres feel even at the lower pressures.
Session 3 was a longer session allowing me to run around 8 hard laps before coming back in. I couldn’t believe that the tyre didn’t go ‘off’ or become greasy like basically every other street tyre I have taken on track before. These tyres feel like the grip level and stability is maintained even after pushing pretty hard for 7-8 laps. I was starting to find the limits of my brakes before the tyres feel like they were losing any performance.
On my trip back to Tamworth I got to test the RE-71R in the rain. There was some heavy rain and the road surface had some standing water which the RE-71R had no issue at all with dispersing. Usually, I would be quite nervous in the same conditions on an R-comp semi slick tyre, as I have encountered hydroplaning before in similar conditions. I found the tyre noise interesting in that smooth sections of hot mix tarmac, it made a noise similar to duct tape being peeled off. Not really noticeable unless the window was down, but interesting nonetheless! Otherwise, the noise from the RE-71R is not unbearable, as it is more of a low-frequency noise and not intrusive. Despite pushing them in corners, I couldn’t make them squeal at all as you’ll see from my in-car video below.
The NSX can be a tricky car on the limit. With its neutral handling behaviour, it can transition rapidly into oversteer with little warning. This only occurred once or twice in my 4 sessions on track, mainly due to me provoking the car by getting on the throttle hard out of turn 2. Even when the slide began it was very progressive and easy to manage, I was impressed.
With around 1,500km on these tyres now, I can confidently say that these are the highest performing street tyre I have driven on. The only thing left to assess is their lifespan! I’ll be sure to follow up with a progress report on how they are wearing as they get a few more kilometres on them.
For more in car track footage, check out the video below!
For more information on the Potenza RE-71R, click HERE.
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