Plenty of rubber and just a few grooves: the recipe for a semi slick tyre that’s been type-approved for road use like the Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R would appear quite simple but in reality it conceals a lot of technology. Driving on the track, the perfect surface for this tyre, subjects the entire car to significant stresses, including the competition tyres: strong longitudinal and lateral accelerations and high temperatures put a strain on both compounds and structure, which need to ensure efficacy and safety even for the fastest supercars. It is therefore essential to take good care of this kind of tyre, especially before and after a day on the track. A few tips can make a day between kerbs even more fun.
WATCH THOSE TYRES
Before taking to the tarmac (better still, before leaving for the track) it is appropriate to carry out a visual inspection of the condition of your tyres. Both excessive tread wear and any external damage should alarm you; if in doubt seek advice from your tyre supplier. This procedure should be done both before entering the track as well as at the end of the day when you need to travel back home from the track. In fact, contact with another car, driving onto the kerb once too often or maybe even driving off onto the gravel may have damaged the structure of the racing tyre.
IS THE PRESSURE RIGHT?
The most important thing to keep tabs on is tyre pressure. The high temperature reached by the air inside the tyre amends the values, so following the correct procedure is crucial. Upon your arrival at the track, set the pressure of all four racing tyres to a value of 0.4 bar less than the pressure indicated by the car manufacturer (for rear-wheel drive cars, set the value of 0.3 less on the front axle). More experienced drivers prefer to keep their competition tyres at a lower pressure than the value indicated in the owner’s handbook, but this practice requires plenty of experience, so it is not suitable for beginners: stressing the track tyres with too little air inside them will almost certainly damage the structure, since the latter would lack adequate support.
Setting the pressure to the values indicated above is the last part of preparing your car for the track. But don’t zoom off immediately: your enthusiasm as a driver and the exuberant horsepower of your vehicle should not be unleashed as soon as you press the accelerator pedal because the tyres won’t yet be ready to perform at their best. It is appropriate to drive for about 25 kilometres before really putting your foot down. This should take about 5 laps (or just one, in the case of tracks like Nurburgring-Nordschleife!). Once your racing tyres have warmed up, return to the pits to measure the pressure and adjust it if it exceeds the value envisaged by the manufacturer. Warning: If you stop in the pits for more than 10 minutes, repeat the process from the beginning: pressure at -0.4 bar, warm-up, then check the pressure again.
THEN COOL DOWN
When the day draws to a close, never leave the circuit after a high-speed lap. The tyres (but also the brakes, the turbines, etc.) need to cool down, just like your leg muscles do after an intense workout. One or two slow laps will allow the various parts of the car to return to a more normal temperature range, before stopping. Once you have stopped, wait for the tyres to cool down completely and then bring the pressure back to the value indicated by the manufacturer.
ONE LAST PRECAUTION
We recommend you use normal compressed air (preferably dried) to inflate the tyres. You don’t need any special gases such as nitrogen, unless the source of air available is excessively moist. And for consistent results, always use a high-quality gauge. Finally, we recommend the use of metal valves instead of rubber ones as they are more resistant to high temperatures and withstand greater levels of stress.
Tips and precautions to help you have as much fun as possible during a day on the track. Which is just what more than 200 supercars did at the P Zero Experience recently held at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, the first stop of the year of Pirelli track days. But there will be others, including in Europe. So get ready to warm up your P Zero Trofeo R!