For most purposes, racing tyres will benefit from an appropriate ‘scrubbing in’ procedure. This provides the best combination of performance and longevity under race conditions.
There are several difficulties that arise when using racing tyres if they are not scrubbed in prior to use. The most common is “Cold Graining”, where the layer of the tread compound in contact with the track, fails in shear with the layer below. The result is a very visible low frequency, high amplitude rippling effect. This is more common with new tyres particularly when used in wet, damp or greasy conditions.
Nankang Motorsport recommends that a standard scrubbing in procedure be used whenever possible (conditions and regulations allowing). This consists of subjecting the tyres through one gentle heat cycle, gradually loading them up whilst avoiding drifting the car. Set cold air pressure at an adequate psi to handle the weight of the car. On track, gradually increase speed subsequently for a minimum three to four laps, with the first lap at 50%-60% of normal usage, gradually increasing but not to exceed 85% capacity with a cool down lap by the end of the session. This will result in a much-improved tire life and on track performance for future sessions.
It should be noted that there is always going to be a slight performance peak from new tyres, but it will only be possible to take advantage of this if the car is balanced on its tyres. A correctly scrubbed in set of tyres will always give more consistent performance over its lifetime than a set that has been used hard from new, even if it hasn’t grained.