Pirelli recently embarked on its 2021 World Rally Championship campaign with two days of private tyre testing in Sardinia: the first day devoted to gravel and the second day on asphalt.
At the wheel of Pirelli’s uniquely liveried Citroen C3 WRC test car was Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen, co-driven by his compatriot Anders Jaeger. The former Volkswagen, Citroen and Hyundai factory driver was spearheading the development of the latest-generation Pirelli Scorpion tyres for gravel and P Zero tyres for asphalt, which will be exclusively supplied to the World Rally Championship from 2021 to 2024. Despite recent challenging circumstances, Pirelli is on course to deliver its new tyres for next year’s championship, which will kick off with the world-famous Rallye Monte-Carlo from January 18-24.
“Pirelli has always been known to lead the tyre manufacturing industry, and we have been recognized through our partners as a symbol of industrial excellence. We are excited to further take our tyres to another level in the off-road segment, as well as test our limits in new territory in various motorsports. Through these tests we aim to establish a baseline and assess how the increased power and downforce of the latest World Rally Cars affect tyre wear, performance and degradation,” said Alberico Avogadro, Managing Director Middle East & GCC, Pirelli.
Intense heat, in excess of 30 degrees centigrade, will add to the challenge. The choice of former world championship stages is a deliberate one, providing an established reference point when the team returns to those stages later in the development programme.
Overseeing the test programme was Pirelli’s rally activity manager Terenzio Testoni, leading a select team of researchers on the ground in Sardinia developing the tyres, backed up by many more experts at Pirelli’s research and development facility in Milan. He commented: “The team works methodically to measure progress accurately. The tests start with the basis of a tried and trusted tyre, then we run a series of prototypes to see where we can add performance and durability. The task is particularly tricky when it comes to rallying, because unlike a circuit, the road and grip conditions are constantly changing. But we’ll come back to these roads in future, to see how the changes we make to the prototype tyres improve their performance.”
Pirelli’s test team covered around 200 kilometres per day, comfortably surpassing the daily distance seen in a World Championship rally. Following the two-day Sardinia test, Pirelli’s engineers are analysing the resulting data before the programme continues next month.
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