Don’t we all think of ourselves that we are the coolest and best drivers? I only know a few who have never claimed to be “good at driving”. I would love to send all of these people out on a race track without instructions and then see who can still achieve the rating “good”. What is part of such an experience; Of course the right sports equipment, but in this case it’s not really about the Porsche Cayman with 275 PS, but the black gold on its feet: the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2.
Usually the Cayman actually wears different socks, but for this experience event, the little one is also allowed to wear the good rubbers. The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 is a semi-slick like the one found on the Cayman GT4 or the 911 GT3, for example. Just a tire for a road vehicle with an extreme slope towards the racetrack. In comparison, the Pilot Super Sport (e.g. the C63 S T-Model) is a more everyday tire with certain racetrack attributes.
The Cup 2, on the other hand, is primarily a road-legal racing tire. You could also say that it is usually carried by road-legal racing vehicles, such as a violent missile in the format of a 991 GT3 RS. Technically, the Pilot Sport Cup 2 is so close to racing that it is even brought to life on the same production line as the racing tires.
The bi-compound tread compound combines an elastomer with a high molecular weight on the outside, so that the tire can build up maximum grip in curves, and a stiffer elastomer on the inside of the tread, so that precise steering behavior is guaranteed. Compared to a conventional steel mesh, there is an aramid fiber belt inside the Cup 2, which is five times more resistant than steel for the same weight. At the regulars’ table of tire freaks, this is referred to as “zero degree cover layer”. Thanks to the use of aramid fibers, the tire contact area remains the same even at high speeds (temperatures). In other words, it does not deform due to the high centrifugal forces at high speeds and thus brings a lot of rubber on the road even at high speeds.
To get back to the “good drivers”; before the racing tire was on the hunt for fast lap times (not that bad compared to the instructor, by the way), the easy theory paired with minimal practical learning came along. That means: braking exercises, but no emergency braking, such as in a safety training. But a precise, powerful braking, then not a sudden, but a progressive release of the brake. Finally, a little slalom to get a feel for the mid-engine athlete.
Then it went towards a small combination of corners, from which it became clear why it is important to brake exactly as learned and not differently. Treacherous load change reactions are avoided unless you provoke them. Sensitively on the steering wheel, hard on the gas and not hesitant on the brakes, was the quintessence for the small course. Then it finally went to the entire small issue of Paul Ricard.
The black gold from France is so grippy that immediately after a short flight phase over the curbes in the narrow chicane, rubber and asphalt mesh again and drive the Cayman back on track. Even the rear only slips for a brief moment before it goes full throttle into the next combination of curves.
The material is tireless, the Cayman and Cup 2 show their first weaknesses only after a long day. After almost eight hours on the track, the brakes show the first signs of fading and the rubber starts to smear slightly. Of course, this also increases the fun factor in a certain way. Mind you, for almost a full eight hours (without changing wheels) the Cup 2s have to show how well they work under ideal track temperature conditions. Ultimately, it is clear that this tire may be seen more often on the road, but is at home on the racetrack.
Text / Photos: Fabian Meßner