On January 22nd, I flew down to New Orleans to attend the launch of the BFGoodrich g-Force Rival. The event was held at NOLA Motorsports Park with wonderful hospitality from BFGoodrich. They had a full team to provide background on the mission and development of the tire. We started with a presentation on the new tire, and then had the opportunity to take part in four driving demonstrations: skidpad, short autocross, long autocross and road course.
The presentation highlighted the goals of the g-Force Rival as a tire that can be driven on the street and also be effective on the track and during competition. Its focus is on maximum dry traction. While the tire can be used in the wet, the dry is where it truly shines.
Each driving exercise served as a demonstration of the Rival's capabilities. Skidpad testing is pretty basic, just drive around in circles as fast as you can. Even though it may seem simplistic, it's an excellent way to really feel the characteristics of a tire. In addition to a simple test of how sticky they are, it gives plenty of time to push tires past their limits of grip in a controlled way, and then observe how they recover.
Testing during short autocross showcased steering response and durability as we flogged the cars around numerous tight corners. The road course highlighted stability under braking as we hauled the cars down from speeds much higher than those on the skidpad. We ended the day on the long autocross which provided an excellent synthesis of all-around handling with a varied mix of corners.
Through a full day of testing, the most impressive characteristics of the BFGoodrich g-Force Rival were:
- Precise turn-in - Thanks to very stiff sidewalls, initial turn-in and transitional response were direct and immediate. Stiff sidewalls are something that I especially like in a performance tire, so this was a big plus to me
- Excellent durability - We were able to inspect the tread before and after each event. The g-Force Rival seemed to wear very well, and was especially impressive for how evenly it wore. These tires took a beating and we were encouraged to push them to and past their limits to test their ability to recover. Treadlife during street driving likely won't be as long as basic passenger tires because of the sticky compound, but they seem to be well built to take abuse on the track.
- Usable grip - The Rival delivered excellent grip across a wide range of slip angles, meaning that grip doesn't drop off too suddenly if you miss the sweet spot. It had a forgiving nature that indicates a pretty wide band of usable grip.
It'll be exciting to see how the BFGoodrich g-Force Rival compares to competitors like the new Dunlop Direzza ZII on our test track later this year!