I opened my inbox last month to find that the Spec Corvette series no longer had a spec tire for the 2020 season. The deal with Falken to supply RT-615K+s had come to an end. My build isn’t quite done so I was somewhat disappointed that I already had a set sitting in my garage. The Falkens had a few things going for them. To start, they are massive. The stack height of the 315/30/18s is 51” putting over a foot of grip at each corner. They also have consistent performance as they age and are long-wearing for a 200 treadwear rating tire.
What showed up in my inbox a few weeks later was shocking and at the same time encouraging. Nankang Motorsports is putting together a 200tw NS2R model just for Spec Corvette and the series is now officially Spec Corvette presented by Nankang Motorsports Tires. Testing of the Nankang against the Falken had revealed similar wear and consistency characteristics but even faster lap times. I like faster lap times.
For the vast majority of readers you’re probably thinking “Nanwho”? Michelin, Goodyear, Continental, and Bridgestone are household names. Nankang doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue, but Nankang is in the triple threat of Taiwanese tire companies that are taking the budget performance market by storm: Federal, Maxxis, and Nankang. While I don’t exactly agree with the products that Fitment Industries sells, they have a rundown of the brand’s history on YouTube.
In California, the “progressive” track day enthusiasts have ignored the big brands and embraced the Taiwanese brands. A few months ago people were panicked about being able to get the Nankang AR-1. PTS can’t keep them in stock! So to my readers out there with serious track builds, if your competition classes allow it you’d be stupid not to try the Federal FZ-101 or 201, Maxxis RC-1, or Nankang AR-1. For the performance driver’s out there (yes, you), check out the Federal RS-Pro, Maxxis Victra VR-1, or the Nankang NS-2R which I will be running very soon.
I have to admit that I am unbelievably biased as a Taiwanese-American, but I see Taiwanese tires on a path to follow what South Korean tire manufacturers like Kumho and Hankook did two decades ago. I own Hankook RS4s on all of my non-SUV cars but it’s looking like the family is switching to rubber from the motherland. Taiwan for the win.
Coffee time, Steven
daily automotive addiction.