When two Italian automotive brands join forces something great is sure to happen. Like when Alfa Romeo 4C took to the Nürburgring fitting Pirelli P Zero OE tyres specifically designed to maximise performance. And the story goes on: from the Green Hell to the new 4C Spider
The universe of OE (Original Equipment) tyres is packed with success stories. Predictably, one may think, as these are tyres specifically made for the car that fits them, but it is not as simple as that. It takes years of work and plenty of expertise to achieve optimal results. Unquestionably, Pirelli has both these qualities and has proven it time after time, and recently on the Alfa Romeo 4C. The partnership between Pirelli and Alfa Romeo runs long and deep. It started decades ago for the first seasons of that Formula world championship that is Pirelli's exclusive domain still today.
Small and wicked
For this and another reasons, having the opportunity to work directly on the 4C must have been an event worth remembering even for engineers and experts accustomed to putting their hands on exclusive vehicles. Despite its affordable price, the 4C certainly belongs to the exclusive car category and has reasserted it since its début at the Geneva Motor Show in 2013. Created as the successor of Alfa Romeo's classic sports cars, the 4C was also intended to mark the auto maker's comeback to the most important markets, in particular to the United States of America. The coupé could not be more Italian and is packed with particular features and qualities that have received many prestigious international awards. The carbon fibre monocoque chassis makes the 4C incredibly light and dynamic. The rest of the structure is made of aluminium, which is also particularly light. These solutions have slashed the weight of the vehicle to under one tonne meaning that the Otto cycle four-cylinder turbo engine (hence the name 4C) can really thrill the driver. It has a displacement of just 1750 cc and a peak power of 241 hp. Numbers like these could appear far from overwhelming only for who has never driven a 4C, because anyone who has knows that the single elements taken one by one count relatively little. It is the overall structure of the car that makes it worthy of its prestigious name. And the same applies to the Spider version. It is actually a Targa top, but this does not change the incredible results it can achieve. Despite the inevitable extra weight of the removable top, the 4C Spider is one of the most thrilling sports cars on the Italian scene today.
As mentioned, the Alfa Romeo 4C is more than just the sum of its parts. But some components are simply more important than others. For this reason, already in 2012, before the coupé had been revealed to the public, Pirelli engineers were working in team with their Alfa Romeo counterparts to create the ideal tyre for the future superstar. Managing the dynamics features of such a light and fast car took a lot of work. The tread is particularly important in cases like these and for this reason it was very carefully analysed together with the compound and the tyre structure. The belt zone was carefully examined before allowing the end product to clock up the miles in digital tests, on the simulator, and finally in gruelling real world tests at the Balocco and Nardò Proving Grounds before hitting the Nürburgring. The result of all this work are the 17, 18 and 19-inch special Pirelli P Zero Trofeo “AR” marked tyres (the 4C can fit two front-rear tyre configurations: 17-18-inch or 18-19-inch). The P Zero Trofeo tyres promptly displayed to have better grip and precision and qualities capable of enhancing the sportiness of the car. The result was under everyone's eyes: one lap of the Green Hell in just 8’04’’. These tyres also spawned the 18 and 19-inch special AR Racing tyres. These are the development of Trofeo tyres and were subjected to tough wet tests at the Pirelli Proving Centre in Vizzola Ticino. Grip and precision for record-breaking performance.