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Rally Review: MRF Gravel Tires

With the new car, we figured it was time to try out some real rubber instead of destroying old Pirellis. One of our sponsors, Team Illuminata Motorsport, started importing MRF rally tires this year and wanted us to test them at LSPR in Houghton, MI.

Full disclosure: Team Illuminata Motorsport let me borrow one of their used sets of tires for the weekend. I returned most of them in good condition.


The rally, which runs at the end of October, is tough and unpredictable. When I went in 2015 to crew for Thompson Racing Fabrication, it started snowing midway through each day of competition. It looked like it might be slightly warmer, so we opted to bring soft compound gravel tires. Unfortunately, when it was time to race the temperature was creeping up into to the 70s!

Even though the temperature was unseasonably high, the tires had excellent grip. On the E36, I ran on medium compound Pirellis. At Southern Ohio Forest Rally, I had to swap my rear tires because they were worn down to the blocks and I was fishtailing every corner exit. I was going much faster with the BRZ, but I didn’t notice any loss of traction throughout the race.

Turn in response was much better as well. At the start of the race, I was nearly cutting into the ditches on the inside because I was expecting the car to slide more instead of grip. Our crew also discovered a large gouge from a rock at parc expose on Saturday morning. We hadn’t even noticed a change in performance. While no cord was showing, we decided to put our spare on at the first service as a precaution.

Photo by Tower City Race Team

At the end of the race, the tires still looked like they had several more rallies in them. The tread blocks still had good corners, unlike the Pirellis which always rounded and needed the assistance of a tire groover. Even after a big, smokey burnout the tires still had tread left. I highly recommend these tires for anyone looking for a durable rally tire.

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