For those of you looking for the ultimate in tyres for your track days, Rob Hoyles, of Superbike magazine, has been testing Bridgestones latest BT-003 club racing and track day offering. Is it the tyre for you, read on and decide for yourself.

Ken.


August 13, 2008 - Rob Hoyles
I decided to test the Bridgestone BT-003 in the arena for which it was designed at an MRO Supersport meeting at Brands Hatch on my R6. This would give me a chance to compare it more less directly against my regular rubber, Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa.

Just fitting the tyres at the workshop told me that the carcass was stiffer than the Pirellis, so I was expecting a few handling problems. Throughout Friday's practice sessions, I made several changes to the tyre pressures, ending up with 28psi in the front and 29psi in the rear (hot). This seemed to be the best way to get feel from the front hoop, though I also ended up taking off two turns of front preload and adding three clicks of front rebound to help solve the chatter issues. To be honest, testing on the busy track was difficult, but I was genuinely surprised to learn that I'd been circulating in the high 49s despite the traffic.

Qualifying didn't go so well as we opted for a soft rear that didn't really help matters, pushing me wide and increasing the chatter problems with hindsight it was a set-up issue. It seems that compared to the Pirelli tyres I've been racing on for almost two years, the stiffer front tyre needs to have more weight pushed onto it, so a change of geometry would have reaped bigger rewards. I ended up on the second row in fifth place.

Until an electrical problem (knackered battery) forced me to withdraw, I was running in second position and challenging for the lead. The rear grip was phenomenal and was definitely where I held an advantage over the Pirelli-shod riders. Thanks to the edge and drive grip of the new Bridgestones, I got huge drive out of Graham Hill and Clearways essentially the two key corners leading onto straights.

Feel from the front wasn't great however, which made me square the corners a little more than I usually would, but I would definitely put that down to the geometry of my bike rather than an inherent problem with the tyre. While we'd chose a medium compound for the rear, we ran a soft compound front tyre throughout the weekend and even with the soft tyre, wear was perhaps a little too good, an indication that we needed to set the bike up to work the front a little harder.

Turn in was a little faster than the Pirellis, which took a bit of getting used to initially not quite like the older Dunlops (or the latest Michelin Power Race) that seem to fall into the turn but definitely quicker than the Supercorsas.

The bottom line for this test was that I managed virtually identical times around the Brands Indy circuit on the Bridgestones (49.579) and Pirellis (49.546), though the bike didn't really handle too well on the Bridgestones, proving that there's more to come through set-up, which to be fair will always take more than a single day at a club meeting.

Overall, it was impossible for me not to be impressed. While certain tests could be blighted by vague journalistic interpretation, the black and white of a timing sheet tells no lies. At club level the BT-003 is every bit a match for the Diablo Supercorsa. Whether or not they'll find an outlet to prove it remains to be seen, no thanks to the one-make tyre rule both here and in WSB.

Technical details are still very vague at this stage, though the price is expected to be announced at around 220 per set and available in 120/70, 180/55 and 190/55 sizes.