Pirelli has teamed up with four-time world rally champion Juha Kankkunen to set a brand new world record, with the Finn reaching 330.695 kilometres per hour (205.48 miles per hour) on ice in a Bentley Continental Supersports.
Kankkunen used Pirelli Sotto Zero winter tyres over a 16-kilometre course on the frozen Baltic Sea off Finland yesterday (February 15), where the ice is 70 centimetres thick. Despite tricky conditions that included snowstorms and cross winds.
Kankkunen was successful in his attempt to break his own record, averaging 330 kilometres per hour in both directions – as required by the Guinness Book of Records, which verifies record attempts around the world.
“The tyres were really good, because to make them work in the conditions we had was not at all easy,” said Kankkunen, who won his last world championship rally on Pirelli tyres with Subaru on the 1999 Rally Australia. “First of all, it was so cold. Secondly, the ice is so slippery and bumpy that you have wheelspin all the way to 300 kph: it’s just a question of playing with the throttle and gears to find the speed.”
The car was standard apart from a welded-in roll cage, rear bumper-mounted parachute and a set of standard Pirelli Sotto Zero winter tyres to 275/40R20 specification.
The 51-year-old Kankkunen believes that record-breaking attempts such as his run in Finland can help to develop road car tyres for everyday drivers in future. “This is a very different experience to driving on the road, but you have to push to the maximum sometimes to see how things work. You can see from these tyres that the techniques of construction are very good and learn some important lessons about how to build tyres in the future to cope with even the most extreme conditions.”
In celebration of Kankkunen’s achievement, 100 limited edition Supersports will be made and shown for the first time at next month’s Geneva Motorshow. They will be the most powerful Bentley road cars ever made.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented: “Many congratulations to Juha and Bentley from all of us at Pirelli. Juha has been very important figure in Pirelli’s motorsport history, who drove on our Scorpion rally tyres as recently as last year, when he made a one-off comeback on Rally Finland. It’s great to see him still setting records with Pirelli, and this latest achievement – taken as Pirelli builds up to its Formula One race return in Bahrain – just underlines the creativity and extent of our know-how in a huge variety of areas.”