Each year Pirelli has raised the bar in the development of road racing DOT, slick and rain tires for key series such as British Superbike, Canadian Superbike, and World Superbike. Recently renewed as the Official Tire Supplier to the FIM Superbike World Championship, Pirelli comes into mid-season having just signed a new contract with Infront Motor Sports to continue supply to the SBK series through 2015. Currently in its eighth year, the technical relationship began at the start of the 2004 season to increase the competitiveness, quality and fairness amongst participating manufacturers, and as a way of reducing the overall cost of running the championship.
The role as tire supplier remains a significant technical effort for the Italian producer, with Pirelli having furnished a total of 212,633 racing tires for the 2008-2010 seasons. It has also obtained professional feedback on its Diablo Superbike slick tires from over 470,000 competition miles. Meteorological conditions and temperature extremes remain the biggest challenge for tire development, but Pirelli was able to develop solutions specifically for asphalt temperatures arriving to an extreme low of 42°F during Race 1 at Donington in 2011 and an extreme high of 136°F in Race 2 at Misano in 2008.
Nearly 30 Pirelli patents have been derived from the experience in SBK racing, ranging from contact patch technology (EPT), to tread designs and even compounding processes. Many of the recently introduced products such as the Diablo Rosso Corsa and the Diablo Rosso II have integrated elements of these technologies in order to offer the most advanced products to consumers for their use in everyday riding, whether on the track or the road.
The 2010/2011 Pirelli range was updated with 23 new changes including updated compounds, carcass materials and sizes. New sizes added to the range for 2011 are the 180/60ZR17 Diablo Supercorsa, the 200/55ZR17 Diablo Supercorsa and the 200/60R17 Diablo Superbike Slick.
Pirelli’s model of single supply is unique, but is also one of the reasons for its longevity. Pirelli’s implementation of this model continues to maintain a focus on the needs of the manufacturers and riders. In fact, if the tires evolve quickly, the efforts of the riders, manufacturers and teams are not slowed, and thus they all have an equal playing field, allowing them to grow their potential together. Pirelli’s other goal is its continuous improvement of sales within the range of road racing and sport tires. This means Pirelli offers consistent performance for different situations and asphalt temperatures which then is shared with the Diablo series product range the following year.
“It is not in Pirelli’s best interest to develop tires that give a great advantage to a single manufacturer, but to create products that bring improvement for everyone,” said Chris Wall, Pirelli Moto North America’s director of marketing. “In this way we are sure to bring to market products that readily meet the needs of all riders with different motorcycle brands.”
MotoGP recently only offered only two tires, which are considered very hard, while Pirelli offers a choice of 3-4 with a tendency towards greater grip. Cal Crutchlow, a rider with experience in Moto GP and SBK has said: “SBK is better because it is easier to manage the tires going off towards the end versus to be fast at the beginning with a super hard tire without getting hurt.”
In SBK Pirelli is not just there to promote the brand but to help the sales of street product. This is accomplished with the input of the riders, the teams, and the manufactures to help develop products that are used on the race track or on the street. For example the SC2 front and SC1 rear 16.5 slicks rider Carlos Checa used at the Miller M/S round are the exact same tires Pirelli sells that are in-stock in the North American race vendor’s warehouses.
Pirelli: we race what we sell and sell what we race. North American road racers and track-day riders can get information about availability and extremely competitively priced Pirelli motorcycle racing and track-day tires from their local race vendor:
Pirelli Tire North America designs, develops, manufactures and markets tires for passenger vehicles in both the original equipment and replacement markets as well as markets and distributes tires for motorcycles and motorsports. Located in Rome, Georgia, Pirelli’s Modular Integrated Robotized System (MIRS) employs state-of-the-art technology to manufacture tires for both export and domestic markets. For more information please visit www.us.pirelli.com.