Glistening in a parched landscape, the weir-fed wet handling circuit climbs and falls on the gentle slope of the proving ground, challenging grip and composure in a number of ways. The second gear hairpin tests braking on the way in and traction on the way out while the rest is third gear, mostly medium speed with one sweet line but there’s also a series of high-speed left-right-left sweeps that really test balance and grip. And confidence.
It’s no coincidence that the tyres that were quickest also felt the best and so were awarded the highest subjective marks. On home turf, topping the time table was the Dunlop, setting the pace at 64.1sec, over two and half seconds faster than the last placed tyre. However, it was only a tenth faster than the second fastest, its stablemate the Goodyear, which was the most highly rated: ‘you can get on the throttle so early, the tyre feels so grippy. And it’s un-nervous allowing you keep digging deeper into its reserves until you’re at the limit.’ The Dunlop was similarly impressive: ‘rarely puts a foot wrong. The tail edges out in medium speed turns but slowly so you can exploit it’.
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The Michelin placed third subjectively and on the time sheet, lapping half a second slower than the Goodyear. It felt like the gap might be bigger because it felt edgier and wouldn’t commit to the fast sweeps with the same positivity. However, once turned in it held the line well. Almost a second behind the Michelin came the Falken. ‘Responses feel softer, grip less strong but has a decent, exploitable balance. Oversteer in the faster turns tempers its pace, though.’
Fifth on time and score was the Toyo. It had a similar feel to the Falken but found less grip. ‘The front end is soft, the rear is mobile but you can find a balance. The feedback is all a bit mushy, though. Easy to overload under power.’ Sixth and last was the Continental, a whole second adrift of the Toyo. It literally felt out of its depth at times, the driven fronts lifted by a couple of deeper patches of water. Also, it wouldn’t turn in for the fast sweeps at the speed of the others and slipped into oversteer where the others were secure. Not confidence inspiring.
Wet steering pad
There’s usually a strong correlation between performances on the wet circuit and the wet circle, the circle simply showing how much lateral grip a tyre has, but the results were somewhat contradictory. Top of the table was the Continental, slowest on the circuit, with the best performer on track, the Dunlop, a whisker behind. The Falken took a strong third, fractionally ahead of the Michelin, while the Goodyear was a slightly distant fifth, a result that’s as contradictory as the Continental’s result. Bringing up the rear, a chunk further off the pace, was the Toyo.
Wet handling subjective