Pirelli will return to the World Rally Championship next year, having been involved in the series since its inception in 1973.
Pirelli was last represented at the top level of world rallying from 2008-2010, when the company was sole supplier to all the teams. Pirelli also backed the Star Driver scheme and WRC Academy, with the aim of promoting the next generation of young drivers to the top of the sport.
Now the Italian firm – currently exclusive supplier to Formula One – returns in open competition, having been nominated together with three other tyre manufacturers to supply the World Rally Championship from 2014.
Pirelli has a long and illustrious history in rallying both as a single supplier and in open competition, where it also equips several national rally championships. To date, the Milan-based company has racked up 180 world rally championship event wins.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented: “We’d like to thank the FIA for looking favourably on our candidature and we’re absolutely delighted to come back to a sport that we feel very much at home in. We’ve also taken this decision following requests from our customers, now that the World and European championship regulations are becoming more closely aligned. For the time being we don’t have any agreements with any official manufacturers so we’re not expecting to compete for overall victories but instead provide the best possible service to our customers. We’re confident in the excellence of our products, and their competitiveness with the latest generation of World Rally Car machinery. For a tyre manufacturer, rallying is a fantastic challenge as the tyres are tested on every road surface, in a huge variety of climatic conditions. Rallying is an extreme sport on the limit of adhesion, where the tyres can make a massive difference. We’re really looking forward to that challenge and becoming a proactive partner in a championship that is set to go from strength to strength, thanks to increased promotion and a high level of interest from new manufacturers.”
Pirelli’s on-going rally tyre testing campaign will continue this year, refining the latest P Zero products for sealed surfaces and well-known Scorpion tyres for gravel. The newest generation of Pirelli’s rally tyres have been adapted to the latest World Rally Championship regulations, combining performance with durability and respect for the environment.
While Pirelli has been credited for spicing up the show in Formula One, the company’s roots actually lie in road racing. Pirelli also has a long history in GT racing, having recently mounted its biggest ever logistical operation for one race at the Spa 24 Hours.
The FIA’s Rally Director Jarmo Mahonen added: “Having Pirelli return to the series is very positive, and together these four brands will provide a great platform for open competition as well as choice and variety for our competitors.
The opening round of the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship, where Pirelli will make its comeback, is the Rallye Monte Carlo from 14-19 January.
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