Top 10 Track Day Tyres

Written by: rob king



Time to read 8 min

If you're part of any track day or car enthusiast forum or group you'll probably be aware there are three conversations that come up time and time again and they are as follows:

  • What are the best track day tyres?
  • What are the best track day brake pads?
  • What is the best track day engine oil?

The answer to all of these questions of course is that there is no 'best' - it's all circumstantial, all based on your own specific requirements, budgets and many other factors. However, over the coming weeks we shall do our best to dispel some of the opinion and hearsay and replace that with facts based on our own on-track experience and experience from around the paddock. Today we'll start by taking a look at the most popular and 'best' track day tyres. Looking for track day tyres? Head over to the shop to browse our range 

What are track day tyres anyway?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty we should probably answer this. What exactly are track day tyres and why do we want them? Well, it's pretty simple, they help you go faster and harder for longer and who doesn't want that? Generally, standard road tyres, even top quality ones start to overheat after 3 or 4 quick laps. When that happens, the grip just falls away and as most people like to stay on track for 15-20 minute sessions at a time it can be a bit frustrating if your tyres are shot after the first 5 or 10 minutes. Generally speaking, a true track day tyre will still be road legal but will be as close to a racing slick tyre as possible. To maximise the rubber contact patch with the tarmac it will have the bare minimum of water dispersing channels, or treads - just enough to meet legal requirements for road use, it will have stiff sidewalls to minimise flex and a soft compound rubber to provide more grip.

You gotta compare apples with apples!

Quite often, if you read through forum discussions about track tyres you'll have people singing the praises of one particular tyre, proclaiming them to be the best thing since the invention of the wheel itself, and then you'll get another group of people completely dissing the same tyre - the reason for this is that people are not comparing apples with apples. Track day tyres are really split into two categories:

  • Category A) Very high-performance road tyres that are pretty good on track
  • Category B) Out-and-out track tyres that are just about road legal.

A lot of the disagreements come about when folk try and compare category A tyres with category B tyres - there really is no point, they're different things, designed to be effective in different ways. For the most-part you can tell a category A or B tyre just by looking at it. See below. I say for the most-part because there are always exceptions to the rule. When you get to the very upper echelons of road car performance tyre technology (and price) eg Pirelli P Zero Trofeo or Michelin Pilot Sport Cup the lines of distinction start to get a bit blurred. I've just spent a week driving the BMW M2 and M4 on track on the Michelins which look every bit a road tyre but perform faultlessly on track and provide astounding levels of grip.

The tyre on the left is a Yokohama Advan Neova AD08R (clearly more road biased with more treads for dispersing water) but still very much considered a track day tyre. The tyre on the right is a Yokohama Advan A050 (which is clearly more track focused with a larger contact patch) So if the car you use on track is predominantly a road car then the 'best' tyre for you will probably be one from category A - a road biased tyre that works really well on track. If your track car rarely ventures onto the public roads then a category B tyre is probably going to be 'best' for you. For the rest of this article we'll split the tyres into these two categories so we're comparing like with like. We're also going to ignore any tyre that costs more than €160 in the most popular size which is a 15" diameter. (with the exception of 1 tyre...because it has to be in this list) The reason being, the vast majority just aren't going to spend more than that per tyre.

Category A - Road biased track tyres:

Federal 595 RS-R From €90.94 

The 595 RS-R has been around for years and is still quite a popular track day tyre. However it is now outperformed in every area by a number of competitors but most noticeably the Yoko AD08R which is virtually the same price.

Yokohama Advan Neova AD08R  From €92.06 

The AD08R is a hugely popular, tried and tested road legal track tyre. As quick as makes no difference around Mondello Park as Toyo R888's and only a second off a set of worn Yoko A050's on a B18 civic that was at one of our track days recently. On-road performance is excellent, they're noisy but that's to be expected. In the wet they're perfectly capable and deal with standing water better than most 'pure-bred' track tyres. The AD08R is our no'1 choice by a country mile in this category. Yokohama Advan AD08R track day tyres are now available in our store - Click here to shop for Yokohama AD08R Tyres

Toyo Proxes R1R From €72.87 

Another popular road tyre for track days that has been around for a long time. Pretty cheap at just over €70 per tyre and a good middle ground in terms of performance and price between the ADO8R and the Nankang NS2R. Wet grip is probably the best of the bunch here, which might be worth considering, given that on average 150-225 days of the year in Ireland it's actually raining!

Nankang: NS-2R From €58.65 

The cheapest tyre here by a long way. The key phrase with the NS2R is that 'for the money' they're extremely good. Are they as good as the R1R? not quite, are they as good AD08R? No, they're not, but if you want a cheap, high performance road tyre capable of holding its own on track then the NS2R is an excellent choice. We ran them on a Golf GTi and were very impressed (again - for the price) The sidewalls are very stiff which makes them harsh on the road and they make so much noise we thought a wheel bearing was gone! Well worth a try though.

Uniroyal Rainsport 5 From €78.00

The Rainsport 5 makes no claim to be a track tyre of any sort, however, it has proven to be a stunning 'wet' and when the heavens open, bolt on a set of these and you'll be amazed at the grip levels...especially if you're used to teetering around on semi-slicks in the rain! We've used them on our MX5 as 'wets' as do many of our regular customers. We also use them on a lot of our daily drivers as they're such a great tyre for this country. They're also really well priced. Sadly we don't currently sell them.

Sailun Atrezzo R01 From €82.00 

These tyres look pretty familiar, and for good reason, they're basically a carbon copy of the Yoko AD08R's...but at a fraction of the price.  If you're looking for a budget road legal track tyre that is also very good in the wet, then these are a really great option. They're an excellent compromise, not outstanding in any one area but a really strong all rounder for the price.  Click here to shop for Sailun Atrezzo R01 Tyres

Category B - Out-and-out track tyres:

Extreme VR2. From €132.00 

The VR2 is a great looking asymmetric road legal semi-slick that really doesn't look like it should be road legal at all. The beauty of this particular tyre is that it's available in a bunch of different compounds from super soft to hard. 

Performance-wise, in medium compound it's very similar to a Nankang AR1, so it's no slouch and it's a bit cheaper. For light weight cars or for the colder months of the year, the softer compounds will really come into their own and wear rate will be less of an issue.  Click here to shop

Nankang: AR-1 From €109.00 

We've used the AR1's on a range of cars from fwd Civics and Mini's to 350hp rwd V8's and they're a really good tyre. They're actually quite a hard compound and in larger sizes in particular we found them hard to get heat into.  On the lighter cars at Mondello Park we found them excellent and in terms of feel, there was no noticeable difference between them and the (albeit ageing) Toyo R888R's that were previously fitted. They gripped well from cold, (which is backed up by a lot of UK sprint & hillclimb competitors using them) got up to temperature in a lap or two and didn't fade when hot. Anecdotally, they're not quite as quick as the most popular R888/A050's but they're very much in the same league and are well priced. Nankang AR1 track day tyres are now available in our store - Click here to shop

Extreme VRC From €150.00

This brand new offering from Extreme is an interesting one, FIA Homologated for rally use and also E marked and street legal the Extreme VRC is a high performance semi-slick that is also available in a range of compounds from super soft to hard. We're yet to test these but a set will be going on the Mini Challenge car very shortly - Click here to shop

 Yokahama: Advan A050 From €105.64 (195/50/15) The new Yokohama Advan A050 R is the replacement for the legendary A048 track day tyre and is currently ‘the track tyre to have’. Yoko A050’s are the new control tyre for the Fiesta ST race series at Mondello Park and they are about a second a lap quicker than the outgoing A048’s on the National circuit. They’re really only available in ireland up to 15" which is a shame. Yokohama A050 track day tyres are now available in our store - Click here to shop

Toyo R888R From €150.00  

This is an asymmetric tyre yet they are strangely not handed left and right. We ran these on the Civic and got half a season's racing and 3 track days out of them, which, for such a high performance tyre is impressive. We did rotate them a couple of times so we got absolute maximum wear out of them. In the dry they grip well from the get-go and don't really fade at all. In the wet they perform surprisingly well too. For track day use the R888R where you're not chasing tenths, is every bit as good, in our opinion as the Yoko A050 and a fair bit cheaper too. Click here to shop

Got something to add? Got questions? Feel free to leave a comment below..