Pirelli Launches World Rally Championship Tyres for 2021 at the Rally Italia Sardinia
Pirelli has launched their newest range of latest generation World Rally Championship tyres at an exclusive event for Rally Italia Sardinia, previewing the Italian firm’s return as the sport’s sole supplier in a three-year agreement starting from 2021.
What to Expect from Pirelli Tyres:
Since winning the FIA tender to become exclusive supplier to the World Rally Championship from next year, Pirelli has been working hard to create new tyres that will be the fastest ever on gravel, asphalt, snow and ice, especially for the World Rally Cars, with the aim to deliver durability, performance, and adaptability.
By sticking to its development schedule for the latest WRC tyre range, Andreas Mikkelsen was able to command Pirelli’s Citroen C3 WRC test car, with Rally Italia Sardinia director, Antonio Turitto accompanying Mikkelsen on a ride over the shakedown stage.
Pirelli’s Head of Rally Racing Terenzio Testoni said: “After an intense preparation programme, we’re delighted to present our new tyres in Sardinia, and give some people the chance to experience them from the co-driver’s seat on the shakedown stage. Later this weekend, everyone will also see them in action when our former world champion, Petter Solberg, drives the Pirelli test car on the rally-ending power stage here at our home event in Sardinia. The next time you see our Pirelli tyres on a World Rally Championship event will be next year’s Monte Carlo Rally, when we begin our tenure as sole supplier. In creating these tyres, we’ve used the lessons learned in Formula 1, as well as our previous experience in rallying, other motorsport, and ultra high performance tyres for the road.”
The WRC Season is a Comprehensive Test for Tyre Suppliers.
Starting with the wintery conditions of the ‘Monte’ and following on with gravel and asphalt rallies, the type of tyre will change depending on what the track looks like. The Pirelli Sottozero tyre is normally the preferred tyre – with or without studs – for events like the ’Monte' as the stages can involve dry conditions as well as ice and snow within the same track, whereas the Sottozero Ice tyres are the most compatible for Scandinavian winter rallies. This is because they contain 384 studs that bite into the surface and provide incredible levels of grip – although the tyre has to be able to retain those studs over sections that can feature more gravel, especially when temperatures are milder.
Over the remainder of the season, the teams and drivers face a full spectrum of different gravel rallies. A single Scorpion gravel tyre, available in hard and soft compounds, has to handle the extreme heat and rocky roads found around the Mediterranean – such as Rally Italia Sardinia – stand up to the stunning speeds seen on Rally Finland and offer grip in muddy and wet conditions like those usually found in Wales.
There is a similar diversity across the pure asphalt events – for which a single P Zero tyre will be provided in hard and soft compounds. These can vary from the smooth circuit-like roads of Spain to more broken and dirty surfaces where grip is at a premium. All asphalt tyres must be suitable for use in both dry and wet conditions – just as is the case on the road – but a full Cinturato rain tyre is also available for extreme conditions to help clear standing water.
Pirelli has been involved in the World Rally Championship more or less continously since the series was inaugurated, with the first win in that year courtesy of Achim Warmbold in a Fiat 124. Pirelli have been noted to use the event as an opportunity for technological innovation on the road, with the modern Cinturato and the P Zero as flagship products born out of both motorsports competitions and sustained research into winter and run-flat tyres.