Pirelli will return to the WRC with four completely new tires, which are intended for use not only at the pinnacle of the sport but also in other key rally championships all over the world.
The new product range was launched today at the Autosport International Show in Birmingham: the traditional opener to the motorsport season.
Mario Isola, Pirelli’s Racing Manager, presented the new tires and explained their characteristics. “The hallmark of our new tires is their versatility but at the same time their specific focus,” he said. “So we have developed tires like the RK for asphalt and Scorpion for gravel that are suited to wide variety of rallies, both on the World Championship and the European Championship. We’ve also developed some specific tires for more specialized events, such as Monte Carlo and Sweden. In line with the sporting regulations we will have just one tread pattern for asphalt and gravel. This brings our competition tires even closer to the tires we make for the road.”
The tire that will be used most often is the new RK, in 235/40R18 size, which is available for all the top cars from the new R5 class upwards. This product, designed for asphalt, has two longitudinal grooves – in accordance with the regulations – which means that it can be used both in dry and wet conditions. The two longitudinal channels are positioned on the internal part of the tire to ensure more effective water drainage and avoid aquaplaning. This also allows better cornering, when the car relies more heavily on the external part of the tire that generates more grip thanks to a greater contact patch.
This tire will be available in two compounds for the WRC: hard for dry conditions, and soft for wet or low-grip conditions. A third compound, supersoft, will be homologated for the Monte Carlo Rally, where the crews frequently encounter very cold conditions.
Completing the asphalt range for Monte Carlo is the SOTTOZERO, in 235/40R18 size. This tire comes in two versions: studded, for snow and ice, and without studs – like a normal road car tire.
For gravel rallies, Pirelli has created the SCORPION XR, in 205/65-15 size. This tire, designed for tough gravel rallies, is distinguished by a symmetrical tread pattern that enhances durability and increases resistance to punctures. It is available in two compounds: hard for the most severe and abrasive conditions, such as those found in Portugal, Mexico and Italy; soft for less aggressive surfaces like Finland. The soft compound can also be used for cold conditions with mud, as often found on Rally GB, for example.
Completing the all-new Pirelli range is the SOTTOZERO ICE in 205/65-15 size. This studded tire is designed exclusively for Rally Sweden, and is meant for snowy and icy stages. The 380 studs ensure high grip even in the most severe Scandinavian conditions. The tire benefits from Pirelli’s patented stud retention technology, where the compound design is specifically engineered to prevent the loss of studs during the stage.