Check out this video of Randy Pobst driving two iconic 1980s cars: the original E30 M3, and the 190E Cosworth. Can you imagine driving these back-to-back at Thunderhill West? It’s hard for me to imagine a more perfect track day.
These are fast cars and Randy is a fast driver, but these lap times are objectively slow. I drive my 138 hp 1.9L Z3 faster. How? It’s probably the tires.
Tires are the easiest way to change performance of a car. Both the M3 and 190e were shod with 205/55/15 Vredestein Sprint + tires. I’m not familiar with these tires, but they are $172 on TireRack. In contrast, my Z3 was equipped with Federal Evoluzion ST1 tires, which I purchased for $82. Despite the 320 treadwear rating, I’m guessing that the Sprint + tires are more like an all-season than a summer tire. My old Miata would do 1:31s on good tires and 1:36s on Douglas Xtra Trac II all-season tires. There’s that much difference in performance when changing tires. Over the same range of tires, I expect the M3 and 190e would lap 1:29-1:34.
I wouldn’t go anywhere near Vredestein tires. They market themselves to classic car owners and expect people to pay a lot of money for little performance. On the other hand, I’m fairly pleased with Federal. While the ST1 isn’t one of their high performance tires, it’s a decent summer tire at a bargain price.