New UHP and All Season Put to the Test.
Continental Tire has a solid foothold at the OEMs of Europe and offers all of the proper staggered sizing for anything that moves…quickly. The venerable Sport Contact line of tires has a bloodline that can be traced back decades. A brand that is trusted the world over for reliable and safe high performance in many conditions. Well, the engineers over at Continental have shaken things up a bit and unleashed the Extreme Contact, a tire with two separate identities. PRN Magazine got the invite from our long time associate, Dana Zamalloa PR Manager for Continental, who had been building up the supercar-riddled event since SEMA.
Well, the event proceeded on schedule but the promise of reviewing the tires on the calibre of cars assembled at the Continental booth at SEMA ’08 was not. There would be no Spyker, no GT-R and the fastest ride of the day was enjoyed from the passenger seat. The liability issues that Continental had with testing exotics, meant the international journalists would have to try out the new rubber on everyday performance cars.
Held at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA, the immense facility would mean that all kinds of activities would be happening simultaneously. There would be wet tests, dry tests, track tests, braking, skidpad, time attack and even go-karting. Everything from seeing how the new UHP dealt with California potholes to its price-point would be presented to some 80+ journalists from North America.
After a painful 5:30am wake up call, we hit the road for an hour to arrive at the Auto Club Speedway. Even though we pressured the staff for information, the entire itinerary was a mystery. Sure enough PRN Magazine rolled the dice and got ‘snake eyes’ when it was relayed to us our first event of the day would be the Time Attack. It was far to early to be strapped into a race-prepped Celica GTS with solid mounts and a straight exhaust. This ‘time attack’ also had some of the slowest participants I’ve ever bumped into at an event, meaning it was one hot lap then one cold to let traffic disappear. The Celicas equipped with Extreme Contact DWs enabled the cars to do some quick laps by fighting minimal understeer in these door-slammers. The tires protested very sparsely and didn’t become greasy after they became hot but then again, we weren’t able to string together hot laps with the “no passing” rule.
Then it was off to the dry and wet handling pylon course. Designed by Conti engineers, the course had a nice series of transitions, hairpins and big sweepers testing both left and right fronts to extremes. The dry track had four cars, a Mustang GT with the all season DWS and another running a competing tire from Goodyear the same size and rating. The summer only DW was found on the BMW 325i with a competing Bridgestone on a second car. The DWS had the edge on the Goodyear F1 all season being able to keep the portly Mustang in check. With the BMWs though, the Bridgestone offers a formidable threat to the Continental and it was almost too close to call.
After the tests, we went for a rip around the go-kart track. This CIK-certified track was full of turns and elevation changes. The 270cc karts were capable of over 50mph and I managed to run one of the fastest times of the day at 1:09.78. Needing more speed we jumped in a Gold Cup Porsche around the Auto Club Speedway oval. After exceeding 260km/h on the straights and hugging the banks, we were convinced the Continental Extreme Contacts on the car are more than up the task of your performance driving.
At the end of the day, the Time Attack trophies were handed out and we were disappointed to not be on the podium despite a valiant effort. The consolation prize was that I placed 7th out of a group of over 80 capable drivers and only 1.3-seconds off the pole-sitter. But it wasn’t about winning rather testing this all new tire to every extreme and the new Extreme Contact certainly measures up.