Pirelli, which are produced in motorsport facility in Izmit in Turkey, the latest generation of World Rally Championship (WRC) has introduced a special event during the Rally of Italy in Sardinia tires. The Italian company will be the only official tire supplier of the championship from 2021 under a three-year agreement.
Pirelli has been working to create new tires for the fastest World Rally Cars to race on soil, asphalt, snow and ice since next year, winning the FIA tender for the sole official tire supplier of the World Rally Championship. Pirelli aims to offer durability, performance and adaptability with these tires.
Despite the inevitable setbacks brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, Pirelli managed to move forward in line with the development schedule of the latest WRC tire range. The new series was introduced to the world media at a press conference during Rally Italy in Sardinia, and presented the driving experience in the passenger seat of Pirelli's Citroen C3 WRC test car driven by Andreas Mikkelsen during the shakedown stage.
Pirelli Rally Races Director Terenzio Testoni said: “After an intense preparation program, we were delighted to introduce our new tires in Sardinia and to give some people a driving experience in the co-pilot seat during the shakedown stage. Everyone had the opportunity to see these new tires while driving the Pirelli test car during the power stage of our former world champion Petter Solberg's rally in Sardinia. You will find the chance to see the new tires for the first time in a World Rally Championship race next year in Monte Carlo Rally. During the design and development of these tires, we benefited from the lessons we learned from Formula 1, as well as our experience in rally, other motorsport and ultra-high performance road tires.
Main features of the new series
An average WRC season begins with the legendary "Monte", often in winter conditions, offering extensive testing to every tire supplier. Here, some parts of the stages can be completely dry, while other parts can be covered with ice and snow. For these races, drivers will be able to choose from studded or studless Sottozero Snow tires from Pirelli as well as regular asphalt tires.
In Scandinavia, only Sottozero Ice tires are available for the harsher weather conditions of winter rallies such as Sweden. Each tire contains 384 studs that hold tight to the surface and grip perfectly. On the one hand, these tires also need to protect these nails on more gravel ground, especially when the weather is milder.
The only Scorpion soil tire, available in hard and soft tread options, must also be able to withstand these varying conditions. This tire, for example, has to resist rocky roads and the extreme heat of the Mediterranean in Rally Italy in Sardinia, overcome the breathtaking speeds seen in Rally Finland, or have a good grip on the muddy and wet ground often found in the Wales region.
The races that are run on pure asphalt ground contain a similar variety. For this, the only P Zero tire with hard and soft rubber options will be offered. The racing conditions in question can range from smooth roads resembling a Spanish track, to more rough and dirty ground with high grip. All asphalt tires must be suitable for use on both dry and wet surfaces, just like the road versions. On the other hand, the Cinturato rain tire, recommended for extreme weather conditions, also helps to remove stagnant water.
Rewriting history from rallies to roads
Pirelli has taken part in World Rally Championships almost uninterruptedly since 1973, when automakers first competed, and the company won its first valid championship with Achim Warmbold, driving Fiat 124 in Poland the same year the new series was launched. The Drivers' class was established in 1979, and Pirelli won this title a year later thanks to Walter Rohrl, who competed with the Fiat 131 Abarth. As an open air laboratory for Pirelli above all, rallies offer the opportunity to test tires that will eventually become road tires and enable continuous technology transfer between racetracks and the road. In addition to the modern Cinturato and Pirelli's flagship P Zero, which some of the most famous automobile manufacturers have chosen as original equipment, the technologies used in winter tires and run-flat tires were also born from motorsport.