Our day started out with introductions and an overview of the facility, including a slow drive around the course. Corvette Racing driver Ron Fellows delivered opening remarks and talked a bit about Spring Mountain's ZR1 driving academy, which is included with the purchase of the car. We then received a technical overview of the new Z06 PS2ZP tire, given by Michelin brand category manager Nicolas Goubert.
According to Goubert, Michelin's goal was to give the Z06 PS2ZP the best possible combination of wet and dry performance. This was accomplished by combining two distinct tread patterns into one tire. The tire also includes Michelin's high-performance Variable Contact Patch technology, or VCP. When traveling in a straight line, the shape of the contact patch is symmetrical. But when cornering, the weight of the car increases the outside contact patch of the tire. This unique feature ensures excellent control in all conditions.
It was during this technical review that we learned that Fellows was actively involved in the development process. Thanks to efforts of the Michelin engineers, the ALMS veteran is able to lap the Spring Mountain course a full 4 seconds faster on PS2ZPs than on the OE Z06 tires.
When our technical briefing was completed, we moved to the short course to drive Z51 six-speed Corvette coupes. We lapped on both conventional (non-run-flat) and Zero Pressure Michelins and felt very little difference between the two. After this demonstration we headed to the skidpad, which was filled with water on one side and dry on the other. The new Michelins cut through the water like a razor and provided amazing wet traction. The tires' transition from wet to dry was similarly remarkable, and even under hard braking and corner turn-in they displayed impressive grip. As a bonus, they also proved very quiet. The OE tires, by contrast, skipped over the water at the same speeds and required significant steering correction to navigate the wet course. They also had less grip on the dry portion and were quite noisy when pushed hard.
The final exercise of the day involved driving a Z06 equipped with PS2ZPs followed by another one wearing the OE tires. Once again, the Michelins provided plenty confidence at the limit and were remarkably quiet as well. Braking performance was also impressive. The OE tires weren't as compliant and protested loudly when pushed.
Our conclusion? If your Z06 is in need of new tires, Michelin's PS2ZPs are worth a very close look. While these new tires may carry a 10-15 percent price premium, they appear to be worth every penny. We'll find out in future issues, as we mount a set on a C5, subject them to a 1,000-mile road trip, and even wring them out on a track test. Stay tuned.