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Street-legal snow tires vs WRC Rally studded tires

Subaru race car with two different tires in front

Screenshots: Tire Rating

Recently, Tire Rating got my hands on a set of Pirelli Sottozero designed for racing, as well as a Subaru race car. That sets the stage for an extremely interesting comparison test between the WRC tires and some of the best street-ready winter tires on the market: Pirelli Ice Zero 2s. But the question is not whether Sottozeros perform better than road tires. That is how much better they will be.

You don’t have to know much about tires or driving to guess that a race is worth $2,000 A tire with a 7mm protrusion will grip the road better in ice than a $600 tire subject to road wear regulations. That just makes sense. But even so, seeing the two compared side by side shows just how wide the performance gap really is. Spoiler: It’s a lot.

In the snow test, the host was able to complete the test track in 67.3 seconds with Ice Zero 2s. On Sottozeros, that time drops to 59.1 seconds. That’s more than an eight-second improvement. And in the ice test, the difference was even more staggering. Switching to racing tires reduced his lap time from 51.0 seconds to 33.1 seconds, almost 18 seconds faster. That is, what, 35 percent improvement? Completely bonders.

The video explains very well all the differences that make racing tires perform so much better, but the best part might be that the video wasn’t shot in the studio. It was shot at the test track, meaning that in addition to learning a little more about the tires, you get over eight minutes of sweet Subaru racing footage. If that doesn’t capture your interest, I’m not sure what will.

Winter Tires $600 vs. $2000 WRC Rally Tires


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