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Prima Racing Tests the Federal 595RS-RR Tire

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The battle of the performance street tire continues to heat up with the addition of Federal 595RS-RR. We were interested to determine whether this latest challenger had what it takes to dethrone the current king (in our minds), the Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R, as well as their overall value in the competitive and wide-ranging street tire landscape.

Federal's 595RS-RR sports a unique tread design

Federal’s 595RS-RR sports a unique tread design

We took it upon ourselves to test the Federal 595RS-RR, pitting the new tires against a set of Toyo RA1 tires. For disclosure purposes, it should be stated that our test was not a direct comparison, as the sizes of both tires were different. Nevertheless, we were curious to observe the two tires back-to-back. For the Federal 595RS-RR we employed a 255/40/17-sized tire on a set of 17×10 Rota Grid wheels, while the Toyo RA1 size was 235/40/17, also mounted on 17×8 Rota Grid wheels. Since the tire sizes and wheel widths are different, we must acknowledge that the results would likely vary. Both tires were tested with Prima Racing’s most recent Honda S2000 build. With this in mind, the testing was conducted with the goal of developing reference points versus an outright apples to apples comparison.

The testing of the two tires was conducted during a Speed SF Track Events day at Thunderhill Raceway’s 3-mile track (East section), testing the Federal 595RS-RR tires on the Honda S2000 in the morning, then switching to the Toyo RA1 tires in the afternoon.

Looking at the Federal 595RS-RR, it is noticeably wide. When stacking these next to the departing Hankook R-S3 tires, the Federals stacked up much higher, despite sharing a similar 255 width. During our first outing with the tire, Prima Racing’s driver, Andrie Hartanto put the tires through its paces and the immediate feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The RS-RR provides excellent, consistent grip and the the overall handling characteristics are great. The tires felt very firm; similar with an entry-level R compound tire. Hartanto remarked that nothing particularly negative stood out about the tire and that it was a “very drivable tire. Really consistent and easy to work with. If the car gets into a bit of a slide, it is easily controlled and doesn’t seem to hurt the tire or the overall speed. I’m very impressed.”

Over the course of the 3-mile, 15-corner circuit, the lap times were consistently faster with the Federal 595RS-RR tires by almost exactly one second. The car’s handling appeared to be much more benign with the Federal 595RS-RR tires, as well. Much of this is likely attributed to the additional width of the Federals. Furthermore, while they do carry an incredibly high level of grip, the Federals are still a street compound tire and as such, are better-suited for the occasional tossing around and liberal application of overzealous throttle on corner-exit.

We didn’t place a huge amount of faith in the lap time deltas given the different tire size, but the difference in driving characteristics were noticeable. There was a higher level of consistency lap after lap with the Federals. While temperatures were not exceedingly hot during a winter track day at Thunderhill, the predictability and lack of “peakiness” in grip levels was noted with the Federal tires. As most track day veterans know, many street tire compounds have an operating sweet spot of around 2-3 laps or so, operating with a optimal grip as soon as the tires come up to temperature, then subsequently becoming mushy or greasy, yet still moderately predictable thereafter. The Federals didn’t appear to have as much of a drop-off point and seemed to maintain their consistency throughout. This made the tires very enjoyable to drive.

Testing the Federal 595RS-RR tires at Thundehill's 3-mile track with Speed SF

Testing the Federal 595RS-RR tires at Thundehill’s 3-mile track with Speed SF

Two weeks later, Prima Racing’s Michael Ostby had the opportunity to test out the Federal 595RS-RR tires again, this time under wheel to wheel circumstances in a direct comparison of tires. This time, both the Toyo RA1 and the Federal 595RS-RR tires were 205/50/15, being run on a 1st-generation (NA) Mazda Spec Miata race car during the SFR Region SCCA Race School.

In this comparison, the Federal 595RS-RR tires were run both in qualifying and in the first of three races. Seeing the 595RS-RR tires on the grid being run next to competitors running both Toyo RR and Hoosier SM7 tires made for an interesting contrast. Lap times with the Federal 595RS-RR tires were surprisingly similar to the Toyo RA1, although just marginally slower on average. The difference was less than a second between the two tires, but the track was a specially-modified shorter course for Thunderhill. The main difference however was not in lap times, but in how the tires responded.

“The RS-RR tires were great. Easy to drive and a lot of fun to push hard on. The Federal tires might have a little more give than the Toyo RA1 tires under braking and turn-in, but again, we’re comparing a street tire to a race tire. I wasn’t able to be as aggressive as I might have been on the RA1, but I didn’t lose any time or positions being on the Federal tires either! Cornering speeds weren’t really any different, which I was really impressed with. The car felt very comfortable at, or even a little bit over the edge, which was both rewarding and fun,” Ostby remarked when comparing the two tires.

The 595RS-RR tires held up well enough in the first race that no positions or time were lost

The 595RS-RR tires held up well enough in the first race of the SFR SCCA Race School that no positions or time were lost

To render any definitive conclusions in comparing the two tires might be a stretch, especially given limited testing time. It is safe to say that after testing, the Federal 595RS-RR tires are indeed faster than the outgoing Hankook RS-3 tires that were previously on the S2000. However with that being said, we have yet to directly compare it to any of the other new street tires currently available on the market.

To confirm that the Federal 595RS-RR tire is a worthy competitor in the current street tire lineup is something that we can unequivocally agree on. The tire certainly has the speed, predictability and consistency to reward drivers at the track. Furthermore, these tires are able to provide such a high level of performance at an incredibly attractive price point, which equates to more track time and more fun.