Pirelli has anounced the development of its tyre range for the 2021 World Rally Championship, where the Italian firm will be sole supplier, to the backdrop of the 2020 GP Ice Race this year. Pirelli is also the official sponsor of the GP Ice Race, held in the Austrian town of Zell am See, which features both modern and historic cars as well as true classics from the golden age of rallying. On display will be the first tyre to form part of Pirelli’s latest WRC era: a Sweden-specification studded Sottozero Ice J1 tyre, in 205/65 R15 size, which will be used by the top tier World Rally Cars equipped by Pirelli from next season.
AUSTRIAN ICE: A TOUGH TEST FOR PIRELLI’S STUDS – AND ICE TYRE TECHNOLOGY
Pirelli will supply both the historic and modern cars taking to the icy track at Zell am See with its Sottozero Ice tyres equipped with seven-millimetre studs, as well as its Sottozero Snow tyres with two-millimetre studs. These tyres feature a tread pattern characterised by robust blocks and tungsten-tipped studs, which guarantee optimal traction, handling and performance on snowy or icy surfaces. Pirelli’s winter tyre experience derived from motorsport is regularly transferred to the road, underlining the company’s ‘race to road’ philosophy, which has utilised the knowledge obtained from more than 110 years of motorsport to develop technologies that improve safety and performance for everyday motorists. The ‘Sweden’ Sottozero Ice makes full use of Pirelli’s proprietary technologies: for this tyre, the studs are incorporated into the tyre during the actual vulcanisation process, rather than being inserted afterwards. This technology is used only by Pirelli and favours stud retention, which helps to maximise performance in competition.
PIRELLI: FROM RALLYING SUCCESS TO PERFORMANCE ON THE ROAD
Pirelli has been present in rallying since the championship started in 1973, claiming 25 world titles and 181 rally victories. Highlighting this hard-earned experience is the company’s return to the World Rally Championship as sole supplier from 2021 to 2024. In the recent past, Pirelli was sole supplier from 2008 to 2010, while since 2018 it has supplied tyres to the WRC2 and Junior WRC categories.
Rallying has helped to create products and technologies that are still present in the Pirelli range today. First and foremost is the P Zero: a tyre that was originally designed in motorsport for the Lancia Delta S4: a formidable beast whose performance demanded a tyre especially made for it. The P Zero name was subsequently transferred to the road and represents the very hallmark of Pirelli, complete with some technical concepts that were born back in those days of Group B rallying. Pirelli’s presence in the World Rally Championship will sit alongside the company’s campaign in Formula 1, where it has been sole supplier since 2011.