Recently we were given the opportunity to test out Bridgestone’s newest semi-slick, the Potenza RE-71R, which boasts superior performance on the street as well as on track due to it’s UltimateEYE technology. So we set out to test just that.

The first guinea pig was to be my own John Player Special E30 BMW 323i. We opted for the largest size that would fit in my guards without scraping, and went with a 215/45/16.

I’m (cursed) lucky enough to live in Canberra, which means more than enough roundabouts as well as the usual city streets and parkways to put the tyres through their paces! I was fortunate enough that we also had a few days of rain while I had the tyres fitted, which meant I was able to try them out in the wet. I found myself gaining more and more confidence entering corners and roundabouts without breaking traction (which shouldn’t be too hard with an LSD and a short wheelbase) Due to their unique angled lateral groove design, they expel large amounts of water to keep the responsiveness in the wet as close as possible to dry.

At one point on my travels, I was also sharply reminded that I had the RE-71Rs on when I encountered roadkill, and had to manoeuvre sharply to avoid it. The response was such that it almost felt like the car could have performed a 90-degree turn. Normally this should have scared a person, but that was when I had my “wow” moment of realisation of just how hard the tyres grab the road.

We even kept them on for an interstate trip from Canberra to Melbourne & back for one of our Melbourne Downshift meets. While they did sit nicely on the highway, the one downside is that I found they were on the noisy side for such a long trip. Obviously not an issue for most people who will be opting for semis.

The next challenge was to try them out on the track, however due to my BMW not being up to the task when the time came, we put the word out for somebody that also had an oddly sized 16″ rim to test them. That’s when I was contacted by Andrew Grosse, who owns a gorgeous shark nose BMW 635CSi 24hr Group A Spa replica, running an M30B35 with a M30B34 bottom end (a 3.4L slant-6 for those not familiar with BMW engines).

A few chats back and forth and Andrew had a track day booked at Sydney Motorsport Park and we had the tyres sent up to him.

Fast forward a few weeks, and we were finally going to get to push the Potenza RE-71Rs to their limits, while Andrew got to play racecar in his gorgeous machine.

After a few warm up laps and battling the usual track day demons, a control time on a different set of tyres was recorded of a 1.59.163 on the Gardner GP circuit.

Then, it was time to fit the Bridgestone Potenza RE-71Rs.

Andrew found himself becoming more and more confident coming into corners, even holding higher gears in corners 4 through to 6.

The proof would be in the laptimes though, and he finished the day with a PB of 1.55.847 recorded!

After a debrief on the day I could tell Andrew was quite happy with the track performance of the tyres, especially given that these tyres had a smaller rolling diameter than his usual 245/50/16. He strongly believed that on a set of RE-71Rs in his usual size would allow even more time to be shaved off his PB again.

Special thanks to:

Bridgestone Tyres for the tyres
Onpoint Performance & Mechanical for tyre fitting & maintenance on the E30
Addam Smith from Bavarian Classics & Restoration, who originally built the 635
Andrew Grosse from TripleG Motorsport, the current owner & driver of the 635
Jax Tyres West Gosford for fitting the tyres for Andrew
And last but not least, Sean & Jerry from Motorculture.

Words and photos by: Adam Vlahos

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