Thinking back over my history with tyres, one moment sticks in the mind - the first time I had a set of Michelin Pilot Sports fitted. The aggressive tread design was a work of art, and the performance, at least in the dry, was mind bending. My first set of Pilot Sports lasted an impressive 12,000 miles of pure abuse and were replaced with a set of the then-new, Pilot Sport 2's. These were just as good in the dry, and even better in the wet but thanks to serious alignment issues with my car, the shoulders were showing canvass just 3000 miles later.
Since then, apart from the odd tyre launch where a set of Pilot Sport 2s have been run as a comparison tyre my life has been sadly Pilot Sport free. The recent launch of the Pilot Sport 3 presented a good excuse to pickup a set of the "new kings", and as my current tyres were getting towards the tread depth markers I couldn't help but be a little too excited at the fact I would once again be running with the letters "Pilot Sport" surrounding my alloys.
That was until I found out an upsetting truth - the Pilot Sport 3 doesn't replace the Pilot Sport 2 as Michelins flagship max performance tyre, it replaces the Pilot Exalto PE2 which is "just" a normal performance summer tyre. I can't tell you why Michelin have done this but I can only presume the reasoning was one of marketing, not performance. The Pilot Sport range is no longer the peak of tyre performance which given my history with the tyre, makes me sad.
Fortunately all is not lost. Recently Ferrari announced the limited edited 599GTO would be fitted with a new tyre from Michelin called the Michelin Pilot Super Sport, a tyre Michelin were proud to claim they co-developed with Ferrari over 18 months lapping the Fiorano and Nard� test tracks in Italy. Designed to extract the maximum performance and safety from the 670bhp GTO, the Pilot Super Sport weighs just 15kgs in 315/35 ZR 20, which is around 10% lighter than the competition. Light tyres are the holy-grail of performance as they reduce rotational inertia (1kgs of rotational inertia is worth 4kgs of normal weight) and reduce unsprung weight - allowing the suspension to control the wheel with more precision and speed.
While Michelin remain tight lipped on details of the Pilot Super Sport, it's understood Ferrari are using the new rubber on the 458 Italia marketing and press cars along side the new, and already award winning Bridgestone Potenza S001. This means the Pilot Super Sports must be something extremely special.
Michelin have stated the official launch of the Pilot Super Sport is sometime in November, and if tyrereviews are present you can be sure of a thorough (and live!) coverage. Either way, the sooner these tyres are on the market the better for all of us tyre lovers.