Ah, track performance, the be-all and end-all of sports cars. Even if the majority of owners won’t engage in such activities, it makes for great marketing. However, sometimes surprises pop up – such as Car and Driver’s recent test which showed that the GT500 is quicker to 60 mph with street than track tires.
That’s right; if you’re in a GT500 with the $18,500 Carbon Fiber Track Pack and you pull up next to a GT500 without it, you’re better off not racing from light to light. First of all, because street racing is dangerous and illegal.
But also because, according to Car and Driver, the GT500 with the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S is 0.2 seconds faster to 60 mph than with the optional Pilot Sport Cup 2. Ford’s lead development engineer, Steve Thompson, isn’t surprised.
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“It’s not atypical to see a PS4S equal the Cup tire or go a bit faster,” Thompson told C&D. As is often the case with performance driving, the reasons are manifold.
Put simply, the PS4S was made to maximize longitudinal grip, while the Cup 2 prioritizes lateral grip to get you going around corners faster. In fact, Thompson said the street tire is designed with occasional drag racing in mind.
According to C&D testing, the Cup 2 track tire offers 1.13 G of lateral grip on the skid pad, which is impressive for a big, heavy car. The Pilot Sport, meanwhile, tops out at 0.99 G, which is still very good, just not as good as the Cup 2.
On the other hand, the GT500 on street tires hit 30 mph in 1.6 seconds and 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and the one on track tires hit 30 in 1.7 seconds and 60 in 3.6. Down the quarter-mile, they posted a time of 11.3 seconds (PS4S) and 11.4 seconds (Cup 2), with both cars crossing the line at 132 mph.
Sure, that’s a pretty small difference and one that could easily be overcome by reaction times in the real world, but it’s worth remembering when you’re speccing the car. The track pack really is, like its name says, focused on the track, not the strip.