Pirelli will start the 2021 World Rally Championship program with two-day special tire tests in Sardinia, Italy today and tomorrow. The first day of the tests will be focused on earthed ground and the second day on asphalt roads.
At the wheel of Pirelli's uniquely equipped Citroen C3 WRC test vehicle, Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen will be accompanied by Anders Jaeger as a copier. The former Volkswagen, Citroen and Hyundai factory pilot will lead the development of the latest generation Pirelli Scorpion soil tires and P Zero asphalt tires to be used in the World Rally Championships between 2021 and 2024.
Although the test program has been interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, Pirelli continues to work to present its new tires for the championship, which will start with the world-famous Monte Carlo Rally between January 18-24, next year.
The tires of the World Rally Championship are produced at Pirelli's facilities in Izmit.
Terenzio Testoni, Pirelli Rally Events Manager at the beginning of the test program, leads the research team in Sardinia, in Pirelli's R&D Center in Milan, where these tires were developed with the Motorsports Factory in Izmit, where they were produced.
With these initial tests, Pirelli aims to set a benchmark and evaluate how the increased power and downforce of the latest World Rally Championship cars affect tire wear, performance and deterioration.
"This is particularly important when it comes to soil," said Testoni. "About 80% of the world championship races run on soil. It is an advantage for us to use the dirt roads that we performed before in Italy Rally and to be one of the most challenging dirt tracks in the world.
On the other hand, high temperature will be more challenging, especially when it rises above 30 degrees. Consciously selected old world championship courses will be a reference point when teams will return to these courses later in the development program.
Various prototypes will be tried, the results will be analyzed and performance will be improved.
"We need to work systematically to measure our progress correctly," Testoni said, adding: "We start on the basis of a tried and trusted tire. We will then use various prototypes to see where we can add performance and durability criteria. When it comes to rallies, the task gets harder, because unlike a racetrack, road and handling conditions are constantly changing. But we'll come back to these roads later to see how the changes we've made in prototype tires have improved performance. ”
The Pirelli test team aims to travel about 200 kilometers a day and to easily exceed the daily distance usually run in a World Championship rally. After two days of Sardinia tests, Pirelli engineers will analyze the results data before the program continues next month.