Toyo Proxes R1R road and track test – wrap up
We’ve been running a set of Toyo Proxes R1R for nine months and eight track events. Here’s the final verdict.
Changing the tyres on your car is one of the easiest ways to improve performance, whether “performance” to you means onroad grip, offroad grip, fuel consumption, tyre life or puncture resistance. You can’t have everything though, as we explained in the Guide to Choosing a Tyre.
In the case of my Toyota 86 (read the long-term tests starting here), the idea was to fit a tyre that would stand up to repeated sessions on racetracks, yet also be usable enough for day-to-day driving which includes wet and cold conditions. Toyo sent us a set of R1Rs, and I wrote an initial review which covered the first impressions and the first two track events.
In summary, the R1Rs were an improvement over the stock tyres which on the 86 are either Yokohama Decibels or Michelin Primacy HPs, both of which I’ve run on my car. And by “improvement” I mean grip, a fair bit more of it in any conditions – although we never ran them on gravel. The tyres are also directional, so they look better, more purposeful, and they’re slightly, but not significantly more noisy or uncomfortable than the originals. The car’s responsiveness is marginally improved, feels a little sharper, and that’s different to overall grip levels.
So how long did they last? About nine months. Must have done a lot of kilometres in that time, would you say? Well, around 6500 is the answer, and now the tyres are dead, completely worn out.
That isn’t normal, even for a high-performance tyre where you’d naturally expect a shorter life – refer point above about not being able to have it all. No, the reason for the short life is that around 700km of those kilometers were at high speed on racetracks. Specifically; Winton twice, Phillip Island three times, and Sandown twice to make a total of eight. With that in mind, the life is quite respectable, and while not all of those events were flat out sprints, enough were to really make a difference to tyre life.
Track work really chews tyres because you’re travelling at much higher speeds which means lots of heat in the tyres, and there’s a lot of tyre stress too as you’re constantly trying to drive at the point where the car is just on the edge of sliding around a corner, and when braking it’s hard on the stoppers to the point where the ABS is chattering. Aside from wear, that also builds up heat in the tyre, as do the brakes which get very hot, heating the wheel and then the tyre. It’s a tough life, and no tyre can withstand it for long. Race teams change multiple tyres a weekend, and some series even multiple times during a race.
So to get eight events out of a set of tyres is quite acceptable, and track drivers understand that tyres become worn far, far more quickly than normal and need regular replacement – along with brake fluid, brake pads and rotors.
Now the track verdict. That was pretty well covered in the first review, which was that the R1Rs gripped better than the stock tyres but not as well as they should for the reputation and price, even allowing for the fact that Toyo also offer the R888 semi-slick R-spec tyre for ultimate grip. As a rough guide, I’d say the R1Rs are good for a second a lap in every minute, so two seconds on a two-minute track. That’s not a big difference to stock. I also noted another improvement – the R1Rs were predictable and easy handlers, more so than the stock tyres, and particularly so after a few laps. This is an important attribute when you’re pushing hard for a quick time.
The only point to add to that summary at the conclusion of the test is that as the tyres aged and wore, naturally grip dropped, but the predictability didn’t change. Even when worn, there was confidence to push on to use what grip there was left, and the R1R appears to be a strongly constructed tyre. We did have a problem with additional and uneven wear on just one tyre (signs of over-inflation), which was odd as all four were run at the same pressures all the time. Toyo’s advice was 35psi hot, measured straight after exiting the track, and the tracks used were a mix of clockwise and anti-clockwise. The tyres were also regularly moved front/back, but not rotated left-right as they are directional and that requires removal from the rims.
Overall then the R1Rs are a decent all-round tyre that will stand up to the rigours of track work yet are quite usable as a daily drive. But if you’re after the ultimate grip then you need to look elsewhere, as there are alternatives that offer the same sort of performance for less money.
TRIVIA: the record for the world’s fastest drift is held by a Nissan GT-R based drift car running Toyo R888s on the rear and Toyo R1Rs at the front. More here.