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Sportway R1 or R1+ recommended for The Endurance Road Rally Championship 2010
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The Endurance Road Rally Championship 2010 promoted by the Salisbury and Shaftesbury Car Club

New Endurance Tyre Tested – November 2009

Sportway supplied a quantity of their new specification R1 tyres for a comprehensive test at Worthy Farm - the scene of many punctures on the 2009 Great Bustard Rally.

Dave Smith, Mike Turner and Paul Heal brought along their Endurance Rovers and were joined by Owen & Jamie Turner, Martin Clark and Matt Fowle who all did some of the driving.

For comparison purposes a set of carefully chosen unused original spec Sportway R1 tyres and some Firestone F580C van tyres were used.

Despite the best efforts of everyone they found it very difficult to puncture any of the tyres. Paul Heal is still recovering from watching Jamie Turner drive his car having been instructed “Try to ruin the tyres!!” Eventually, one of the 2009 specification Sportway tyres did succumb to the abuse.

And the verdict? – “The new 2010 spec Sportway seemed as robust as the Firestone F580C and better than the best of the 2009 Sportways.”

The Championship Organisers now recommend the 2010 specification Sportway R1 and thank Sportway for their efforts in strengthening this tyre. For 2010 the championship will run to List 4 for tyres. It is hoped that crews using the new Sportway will prove it is now a tyre that is up to the job. For 2011 the championship will look to re-introduce a control tyre based on the performance of all tyres used in 2010.

Competitors should be aware that the Silverstone S505 (buffed, marked Lombard) may not be allowed on all events due to risk of damage to roads. Checks will be made at scrutineering to ensure that these tyres are buffed to the approved profile and carry the correct marking. You are strongly advised to check with event organisers before committing to the Silverstone tyre.

Below is Matt Fowle’s comprehensive report on the Tyre Test Day

The Endurance Rally Tyre Test Day

Sportway tyres have modified their moulds for the R1 tyre to try and resolve the puncture problems suffered by many crews in the '09 championship. The new tyre now has a much thicker side wall made possible by the new moulds that can now be used with reinforced van carcases. Sportway supplied the championship with some of these tyres for evaluation. To test the tyres they were taken to Worthy Farm the scene of many a puncture on the Great Bustard rally in 2009.

To gain any value from the test we also tested the old Sportway tyre and to give a bench mark a set of the Firestone F580C van tyres. As those of you who used Sportways in 2009 will know they varied in quality and strength. It would have been all too easy to pick four poor Sportways to make the new tyres look good however from the Rover Centres stock the four best tyres were selected. This would give the best indication if the new improved tyre was in fact any better than the old tyre.

Three Rovers were used for the test (belonging to Paul Heal, Dave Smith and Mike Turner). The three cars were each set to different suspension settings. Dave’s car was set to fully hard, Paul’s car normal settings and Mike’s car fully soft. Paul and Dave drove their own cars and Martin Clark drove Mike’s car. The testing was over seen by Owen Turner, Jamie Turner and Matthew Fowle.

The Tests

1. The first test was carried out over a 1.2 mile circuit taking in the rough old railway line. Each car did 5 laps in both directions with each set of tyres. This was repeated with the tyres at three different pressures 35, 30 and 25 psi. Much to our surprise there were no punctures. Finally Owen and Jamie drove the cars with the brief to be as hard on the tyres as possible. Still no punctures.

2. The testing then moved to another part of the site and used a part of track with large rocks sticking out of the surface. At each end of this section of track two freshly graded areas with sharp tennis ball size stones were used for turning around barrels. With the tyres still at 25psi the cars were driven up and down the track and around the barrels. The drivers were instructed to hit the rocks sticking out of the surface as hard as possible one of which stuck out with a 75mm square edge. They were also asked to under steer around the barrels to put as much load on the side walls as possible. Again all the tyres stood up to this test.

3. The next test involved driving the cars up on to a 150mm triangular brick to pinch the tyre on to the rim. All three tyres passed this test. Then the cars were driven up on to the brick such that they slip off the side to try and rip the side wall. The new Sportway and Firestone survive this test unmarked. The old sportway was damaged by this test with the rubber being stripped off the side down to the canvas of the carcase.

4. The final test was carried with Owen, Jamie and Matthew driving the cars over the track and Barrel test. This was to see the only failure of the day with one of the old Sportways getting a side wall puncture.


Despite the roughness of the tracks and some very tough tests everyone present was surprised how well all three tyre types stood up to the test. It shows that if you were very lucky and got the best of the old Sportways then you would have a robust tyre up to endurance rallying.

The Firestone tyre, as proved in 2008, is strong enough for endurance rallying although maybe not as good as Sportways for grip on wet muddy tracks. The new Sportway would seem to be as robust as the Firestone and better than the best of the old Sportways.

Pressure wise, as you would expect, the lower the pressure the better the grip but with the heavier cars like Rovers 30psi is possibily as low as you should go. With the lighter car like Novas and 106s you should be safe to go down to 25psi.