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Thread: Nankang AR-1 review

  1. #1
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    Default Nankang AR-1 review

    Due to popular demand (well, one person asked) I'm writing up a review of the relatively new Nankang AR-1 track tyre.



    By way of background, I try to be data driven when running a track/race car. I don't believe in the butt dyno, I do believe that the stopwatch tells no lies. So this review is going to be as fact based as possible.

    The test rig is a 2013 Suzuki Swift Sport, with a stock motor, 135 hp at the flywheel, set up as a dedicated track car. It's stripped out, not street registered, and is fairly well dialled in after two years of track days. The suspension is well sorted, with BC Coilovers, roll centre correction, camber and castor track appropriate, roll stiffness dialled, a 5.1 final drive and a Cusco 1 way LSD. The lead driver is my son (at least that's what my wife tells me), who in addition to doing lots of track days at my expense, races karts at his own expense, drives for his university's FSAE team, and has a simulator in his bedroom. So a reasonable driver for a young bloke, and can put down consistent lap times.




    The car has been running a set of 205 40 17 Nitto NT 01's for the past two years. These are now well worn, but are still putting down good lap times, the car has been steadily getting quicker over the past two years on the same tyres. So the NT01's will be the point of comparison for the Nankangs, which is also useful as they are around the same price point. The AR-1s were $AUD220 per corner, about the same cost as NT01s. By way of comparison, the supposed "gun" R spec tyres are either Hankook TD Z221s or Yokohama A050s, depending who you talk to. Down here they are roughly twice the cost of the NT01 or AR-1.

    The target time at our local track is 1:12.4, set a few months ago with the same setup on the NT01s.



    Onto the review. Firstly, some measurements. We couldn't get exactly the same size as the NT01, the closest in height according to the web site was a 215 40 17.



    605mm high vs 596mm for the 205 NT01, so about 3/8ths of an inch taller.




    209mm wide for the 215 AR-1, vs 199mm for the 205 NT01, so that difference is exactly the difference between the advertised widths for both manufacturers, although the recommended rim for the AR-1 is 7.5 inches, and we have 7 inch rims.


    The wear rating for the NT01s is 100, vs 80 for the AR-1s. As I'm sure you know, these numbers are not really comparable between manufacturers, but I was hoping that the Nankangs would be a bit softer, especially with the onset of colder weather.

    The Nankang:





    Looks to be about 5 points softer than the two year old NT01s:




    Tyres are like fish - best if fresh:



    These were manufactured in February this year, can't get fresher than that!


    Now for the not so good news, the weight:



    That's 17.5 KG for the rim and tyre, a full 2 KG or 4.5 pounds heavier than that 205 NT01. And it's the worst kind of weight on a race car, rotating weight. So I'm expecting that's going to hurt. Also, we could not get any data from the importer, they couldn't tell us anything about target hot temperatures or pressures.

    We are off to the track tomorrow, looks like it's going to be cool and clear, with fog in the morning. Forecast top of 18 degrees C, whatever that is in F, but good for a soft tyre.

    Going non scientific for a minute, how do I feel about these tyres, based on the above? If I was a betting man, I'd say the extra weight of the AR-1s is going to offset any gains from the fresh rubber, given our lightweight and underpowered car.

    But we will see what the stopwatch has to say. Further update over the course of the weekend.
    Last edited by Sprinkles; 05-12-2017 at 05:24 AM.

  2. #2
    RaceTape Ninja Force McCocken's Avatar
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    Wonderful information, looking forward to the times. Thanks for adding!
    Yer pal,
    Force

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    Administrator ucfbrett's Avatar
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    These are Taiwanese tires, available in the U.S., too, so this is relevant info. I don't see the AR-1 on the U.S. site, though.

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    Very informative thus far.

    After we get performance feedback, it would be great to also get some future reports due to the NT01's ability to age well.

    btw: I love the durable little Swifts.

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    Master of Disaster SteveLevin's Avatar
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    That is an awesome review!

    I am trying to get down to Bathurst this year but it's a challenge....

    Steve

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    Default Off topic...

    Before I get into the results of today's track testing, I have a couple of photos which nicely illustrate why balancing tyres on track cars is a waste of time and money.

    Here's the front left tyre (the car is FWD) right after we rolled it off the trailer, with a witness mark applied with a white paint pen:





    And here's the same tyre after about 10 laps:



    Remembering this car only has 135 HP at the flywheel to spin that tyre on the rim. By the end of the day, the witness mark on the tyre was roughly 180 degrees from the mark on the rim. So if I leave the weights where they are, the wheel/tyre should be back in balance at the end of the next track day.
    Last edited by Sprinkles; 05-13-2017 at 04:18 AM.
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    We arrived at the track at about 8 am this morning, it was about 8 degrees Celsius and foggy. The imperial/US equivalent is "cold and miserable". But.... there was no wind, and the forecast was for 18 degrees Celsius and dry, the imperial/US conversion of which is "perfect driving conditions".

    In the complete absence of any data about the tyre, and due to being inherently lazy, I decided that the starting setup for the car should be the same as what we were running for the Nitto NT01s, which is:

    Front: 1mm toe out, 5 degrees camber, maximum castor (not sure of the measurement), stock soft anti roll bar, 7kg/mm springs (soft), shock damping fully open (minimum rebound)

    Rear: 6mm toe in, 3 degrees camber, 4kg/mm springs (soft), anti roll bar disconnected, minimum damping.

    You will recall from the earlier post that the target time to beat was 1:12.4. I was told by my expert son (FSAE driver, karter, sim racer, all round smart guy) that in cold conditions it's best to run high pressures, as this makes the tread surface flex instead of the sidewalls, and gets heat into the tread quicker. "OK son, whatever you reckon..... you want to run 35PSI cold, go for it".

    There's a story here about old dogs and new tricks...... the track is barely dry, first session, and he puts down a 1:12.7. I'm not sure what the front pressures were, our guage only goes to 40PSI, they were above that after 5 laps, and the rears were at 38. So here's these brand new tyres, which we know nothing about, in the first session only 3 10ths off the PB. I couldn't believe it, at this point I was thinking "we are going to smash this out of the park".




    And then things started to get tough. Next session we started dropping pressures in response to the obvious results from the tyre pyrometer, which predictably showed the tread centre running hot, and the times started climbing into the 13s, just as the air temperature warmed and the track started to rubber up. Not what we were expecting.




    Anecdotally, we both felt like the car had more mid corner grip than on the NT01's, but this was not translating to lap times. As the day's temperature peaked, the car was starting to understeer, so we reconnected the rear anti roll bar, and finally started to see an improvement in lap times, with me getting down to a 1.13:3, a couple of 10ths improvement on my previous PB from last year. then in the last session at 3.30pm, the air temperature was starting to cool, and I had one of those "lightbulb moments". I had not had a single brake lockup all day. I wondered just how deep these tyres could go into a corner, and this was the last chance to experiment......

    In hindsight it's obvious.... these tyres are wider and softer than the NT01's, of course they are going to stop in a shorter distance. It was simply a matter of staying on the gas a little longer than we were accustomed to. My PR went down to a 1:12.5, but the car was capable of more, now that we had worked out how to exploit it. I handed over to Junior, and told him what I had discovered. It only took him three laps to get into the 11s, and on his second last lap, he put down a 1:11.3, 1.1 seconds faster than his best time on the NT01's.

    So in summary, after our first outing on the AR-1s, we are both very happy with them, and they have exceeded my expectations. I don't think they would be the best choice in the height of an Aussie or So Cal summer, but in the cooler months they work well. For the next outing I would like to see if they can take a bit more weight transfer, so will try to get some stiffer springs. I'll update this thread as we learn more about the Nankank AR-1s.
    Last edited by Sprinkles; 05-13-2017 at 05:34 AM.

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    Default Update: Track day #2

    We had our second track day on the Nankangs last weekend, and they are still going fine. No abnormal wear, and certainly no deterioration in performance, with Junior going 1 tenth faster at 1:11.2, and me 4 tenths faster at 1:12.1. We didn't end up changing the spring rates, left the setup the same as last outing.

    Conditions were similar to last time, dry and pretty cool with a maximum temperature of 14 c /57 f. The fast times were set late in the day.
    Last edited by Sprinkles; 06-19-2017 at 11:12 PM.
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    Default Track day #3

    Third track day yesterday on these tyres, they are still holding up well.

    The track was very cold (taps frozen in the restroom) when we arrived, and it was windy. Junior set a new PR of 1:11.1 mid afternoon when it warmed up to about 13c/55f air temp.

    The instructor did a few laps and put down a 1.10.6, he commented on how much corner grip the car had.
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