Pirelli conquers challenges at Rolex 24 at Daytona
In what will be remembered as one of the most challenging endurance races in road racing history, Pirelli’s P Zero Racing Slick and P Zero Racing Rain tires proved they were up to the task in the blustery and wet weather that gripped Daytona International Speedway this past weekend.
The challenges at this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona provided the perfect showcase for the abilities of the 2010 specification P Zero Racing Slick as it made its debut in series racing. P Zero was developed by Pirelli Motorsport Research and Development and is manufactured in Pirelli’s state-of-the-art motorsport facility. The variety of wet and dry track conditions, cold and hot temperatures and day and night driving that teams contended with helped make the 48th annual running of America’s premier endurance race one of most memorable to date.
“We are incredibly proud of our organization and the products we design, develop and manufacture which bear our name,” said Tom Gravalos, Vice President of Marketing, Motorsports and Original Equipment Sales. “Our capability to support and supply at the highest level was made very clear today. We are equally proud of the partnership we have with GRAND-AM, which is part of the NASCAR family of companies, and the relationship we have with all of the great competitors in the Rolex Sports Car Series.
“Pirelli is so much more than a brand name – it is a family of technicians that take pride in their work, and care enough about their product to travel from all points on the globe to be here in Daytona when our new P Zero tire hit the ground in competition for the first time. That kind of support is important – and it is what differentiates Pirelli. Many tire brands that purport to be in the motorsport business cannot manufacture their own racing tires because of the expertise required. However, Pirelli has proven over the past 102 years of Motorsport victories that racing heritage is earned, not bought,” Gravalos added.
The winning No. 9 Action Express Racing Porsche Riley featured a Porsche Cayenne-based V8 engine by Lozano Brothers Porting mounted in a Riley chassis. The combination of the Cayenne V8 and Riley chassis was under development in 2009, but debuted this weekend, and the set-up may prove popular – especially after such a commanding race win in which Joao Barbosa held off Scott Pruett to win, and the car propelled the team to a race-winning 755 laps, averaging 111.930 mph, and a best lap time of 1:42.722 seconds. The winners and their competitors raced an incredible 22,500 combined laps and covered 80,100 in total mile count.
“These tires are the best we have had from Pirelli yet,” said top American sports car star Scott Pruett, who finished a close second to the winners in the overall Daytona Prototype battle with teammates Memo Rojas, Max Papis and Justin Wilson in the No. 01 TELMEX/Target Chip Ganassi Racing BMW Riley. “The tires are consistent and fast and we were frequently turning our fastest laps at the end of a run, not the beginning. I was incredibly impressed with how much they have improved and the consistency, durability and speed was just great.”
Pruett and rest of the competition started the race in a heavy downpour and he also drove in some of the coldest conditions overnight and early Sunday morning.
The GT class win went to the No. 70 Castrol/SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 of Sylvain Tremblay, David Haskell, Nick Ham and Jonathan Bomarito. This was the second Rolex 24 win for the No. 70 team in three years. Bomarito crossed the finish line at the checkered flag and won the race in 707 laps, with a margin of victory equal to 4 laps over the next closest competitor.
Pirelli officials were impressed by the incredible talents and abilities of the competitors in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series.
“The relationships we have built with the great teams, drivers and manufacturers of the GRAND-AM Rolex Series have really helped us meet and exceed expectations,” said Rafael Navarro III, Pirelli Tire North America’s Director of Motorsports and Media Relations. “The Rolex 24 in particular allows our talented and skilled competitors to push our products to the limit in what is really the ultimate proving ground for today’s top high performance Pirelli products. Pirelli’s new environmentally responsible 2010 specification P Zero’s are HAOF (highly aromatic oil free) and developed by Pirelli Motorsport Research & Development.
“More than 60 tire technicians and 12 engineers from Pirelli never missed a beat throughout the grueling weekend,” said Gianluca Grioni, Pirelli Tire North America’s Motorsport Manager “Our crew gave 100% throughout race week, and especially during the rainy and cold nights we experienced before, during and after the race.”
Next up for Pirelli and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series is the Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway, March 5 – 6. The race can be seen live on SPEED at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 6.