As I had recently burned through my Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires on my 2018 Audi RS3, I began the search for something new that was either going to last a while, or be cost effective enough that they didn’t have to last a while. What I didn’t expect was to get both out of one package. I needed something that would keep me out of the sub-200 treadwear, which is where most track organizations draw a line between ‘street, competitive’; and ‘OMG RACE CAR WHERE’S YOUR ROLL CAGE AND FIRE SUIT?!’
Now that I’m done yelling, enter the Accelera 651 Sport 200TW tire. The Audi is a very low profile (30), somewhat wide-ish (265), and a 19 inch rim. This makes for a somewhat strange combination, as most dedicated track tires are in the 18″ range, regardless of width. With the front brakes on the RS3, and it’s massive 8 piston calipers holding back 370mm rotors, 18″ wheels simply weren’t in the cards when I purchased my 19″ Neuspeed RSE142 19×9.5 wheels. In this review I’ll focus on the acquisition of the tires, getting them mounted and ready, and then their performance from noise and comfort, grip, and wear perspectives.
First, a history lesson
So – Who is Accelera? To be honest, I wasn’t actually sure when I started this journey. A fellow owner on a facebook group had been using them in a different size, and said that they were narrow but worked, and the price was right. After doing some research, I found that they were extremely popular in drift, but they didn’t have much of a following in the road racing world. The reviews I was seeing also indicated that the front of the drift cars had almost too much grip, which for me simply isn’t possible! I managed to come across a distributor called Tire Streets (www.tirestreets.com), and they were able to source me a 265-30-19 Accelera 651 Sport in their 200 Treadwear compound. They do offer a 100 TW compound, which I’d really like to try, but it pushes me out of my class for time-trials, so I’ll have to save those for a different event… but rest assured, I’ll review those too! Tire Streets was able to offer free shipping as well as a 10% off coupon.
Now, the kicker. Ready for this? They are 520.00. Per SET. Now – price isn’t everything, but this is about half of what I would be paying for a set of 18″ 265/35 tires from a different manufacturer, and about a third of the Sport Cup 2’s in the 19″ variety. At this price, you’d assume they couldn’t have possibly been good, but you’d be wrong.
Road Manners: Off Track, Fitment
First and foremost – my primary focus is on track duty. That said, I did drive them home from Black Forest Industries who mounted and balanced, and checked/verified clearance for me. For anybody in the Raleigh area, they are the best I’ve found for VAG (Volkswagen Audi Group; etc) type cars servicing and advice. On the drive home, I noticed that these are a *bit* dead on center, but nothing to write home about. This is in comparison to my normal summer tire, a Michelin Pilot Sport 4S. I did get them warm and attempt using launch control. No wheel spin. At all. Okay, now they had my attention. Also getting my attention was the noise. These are not quiet… at all. Don’t expect them to be, and use them for their purpose and you’ll be very happy with the results. The sidewall is firm, but not overly so, and it soaked up bumps in comfort mode just a bit harsher than my PS4S. As for the fit – I will say that on my 19×9.5 wheels, the 265 is a bit on the narrow side. The Accelera website indicates that the 9.5 rim is acceptable, however I personally feel that these 265’s would be equally at home on a 9 or maybe an 8.5 wide. I also would like to think that a 285 would actually clear, which is strange as a 265 wide Sport Cup 2 is the widest tire that fits on the back of a RS3 due to shock and fender clearance. In reaching out to Tire Streets for comment, Accelera is looking into this. I’ll post an update when I receive an official response.
On Track: Grip
90% grip was available in just about a lap, and the daytime temperatures started out low. As that was the case, I did start my pressures at about 35, assuming that they wouldn’t heat up that much in the first session. I was able to really begin pushing them in about 2 laps where holding speed and using the tires for turning to bleed speed was quite good. Target pressure for the rear was 36 hot, and target for the front was 38, hot. I believe that I could actually take the front down a bit, as we’ll discuss in the ‘wear’ section, I’m going to need a bit more time to dial that part in. I was following a vehicle on Bridgestone RE71R, and was able to hold speed in the turns, however I wasn’t able to out-brake them (this was a new Toyota Supra, so they did have a significant weight advantage, and balance advantage, over my RS3). Based on the fact that I was holding pace through several constant radius turns at NCCAR exemplifies what it takes to hold continuous grip over multiple sessions and multiple laps.
On Track: Wear
This is where things get both impressive, and then inconclusive. Let’s start with my alignment:
Front: -2.4 degrees of camber; 1/8th toe in, factory caster
Rear: -1.8 degrees camber; 0 toe, factory caster
I believe that my toe did get knocked off in the front, and pushed into a toe-out situation, as later in the second day the front tires did begin to wear heavily on the inside. That said, if we focus on the rear tires, as well as the front outside edge (which should have generated the most heat in the turns), we can see that the rears started at 9/32 and finished the 8 20 minute sessions at 7/32. The pressures for the rear may be able to go down ever so slightly based on the wear being a little heavy in the center and a bit light on the edges, which may have reduced the overall pattern by a bit. Based on my driving at roughly 9/10th, and rotating the tires a bit (directional, so only back to front), I believe that getting 24-25 sessions out of the tires isn’t going to be a major issue. Many events actually run shorter than 20 minutes, and many track tires are more limited by heat cycles than by tread wear. I’ll be posting updates as I wear through these to learn how they are going to continue their life on my car. The first photo is the front wear, and the second is the rear wear:
Starting tread depth (new):
Ending tread depth, clearly the wear is at a slight diagonal, but I’m drawing a conservative estimate of ~7.5/32
The Accelera 651 Sport is an incredible value. The price is easily the least expensive thing on the market for a 200 Tread-wear Ultra-High Performance street-able track and autocross tire. Despite the cost, it is extremely capable, comes to temp quickly, and even at the tail end of a 20 minute session, never became greasy or slick. I do look forward to the opportunity to push it in warm weather and see if the same holds true. In looking at the sizing, I do feel that Accelera needs more sizes if they hope to become more popular. For me personally, a few sections wider would do the trick. For the rest of the track crew, Miata’s are easily the most popular track car at every event I’ve attended in the past two years. If Accelera brings a Miata tire to market, it will solidify them in the road racing marketplace. For the time being, I’m going to fix my alignment, and continue running the 651 Sport for events like Track Night in America and Time Trials.
Side note: I was not paid nor provided any type of compensation for this review, and it is as impartial as I can possibly make it.