DISCLAIMER: Pirelli is a sponsor of Hooked On Driving. However I wrote this with a completely clear conscience and loved the tires. A true test would be a time comparison between the Trofeo and the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup – a current leader in the space. But there is one objective difference between the tires. The Trofeos appear to be a more practical solution for driving to the track with useable tread…….. David Ray
I had the pleasure of driving two of the first customer’s cars that
had the Trofeos mounted last Friday at Thunderhill. Thunderhill is a 3
mile road course, with a good combination of technical, high speed, and
elevation change elements. It was the perfect place to really wring out
the Trofeos. The subject cars were a significantly modified Audi S4
wagon with manual transmission and upgraded suspension and brakes, and, a
new Ferrari F430 Scuderia with the F1 gearbox. Two very capable cars,
to say the least.
I would summarize my driving impressions by simply saying, the Trofeos exceeded my high expectations.
The tires feel very much like a racing compound with great grip. But – they were also excellent at allowing the driver to gain confidence near the limit – and then at the limit – provide a very manageable sideways slip. Thunderhill’s Turn 2 is a wide, flat left turn carousel which is great to test tire and suspension. The S4 blew me away with its willingness to bite on turn in – a tribute both to the car’s setup and the Trofeo, but then a progressive, no-drama transition to allow the car to come around to the target apex, again – letting me know exactly when I was near or achieving the limit. With the Scuderia, I’d admit to not moving to 10/10ths with the car, as the owner stated “you break it, you buy it” at the beginning of the drive. YIKES. However, the car is spectacular and wants to be driven, and while we didn’t go at race pace, I definitely drove it. Again, the Trofeo gave me both amazing stick, and total confidence that they were my partner in achieving and managing the limit. On the tricky turn 15, coming on to the 5/8ths mile straight – a critical turn that yields speed all the way down the main straight, we put the car at 9/10ths easily and transitioned to the track-out point while having been full throttle for more than a second or two.
We noted (not something we advise our students to do) that the speed at the conservative braking point was 141mph, faster than the purpose-built GTM-R race car that I had driven earlier in the day. This is a wicked fast car, especially with these wicked fast tires. There are two more observations I’d make. One – the Trofeo is NOT stamped “off-road use only” which gives its DOT approval meaning….this is a race grade tire WITH meaningful tread that can be driven to the track. And second, they are amazingly quiet! I did not expect this and if we drove harder, longer, maybe they would start squealing. But it was actually
a refreshing change to be pushing the car through the off-camber Turn 3 without the normal howling of complaining tires under stress. I believe that Pirelli has a winner in the P-Zero Trofeo. Now, for more fitments!!
P.S. Thanks go to the two car owners who let me burn off just a bit
of the precious rubber and brakes…
Steven Grandin – Audi S4 Wagon
Michael Lentini – Ferrari F430 Scuderia