The Blancpain GT Series begins only a few kilometres from Pirelli headquarters, at Monza this weekend. Almost 50 cars will participate in the three-hour Endurance Cup race, for which Pirelli will supply approximately 1000 tyres across the whole weekend while providing technical support to all the teams and new cars.

The challenge:
Monza has a fearsome reputation, having earned the nickname ‘Temple of Speed’ in its early years. The GT3 cars today reach up to 285kph on the modern circuit, with massive deceleration zones at the Rettifilo, Roggia and Ascari chicanes. The last corner of the lap is one of the most famous: Parabolica, a sweeping right-hander that requires drivers to hit their marks perfectly, or else lose time down the long pit straight to the first chicane. Perhaps the most challenging corner though is the Curva Grande: taken flat-out, where the tyres are subjected to high lateral loads with plenty of downforce as well. The peak g force load over the course of the lap is 1.9g coming out of Ascari: in Curva Grande it’s around 1.5g, but sustained for much longer.

The competitors:
A total of 49 GT cars piloted by 144 drivers will race at Monza this weekend, all fitted with Pirelli DHD2 rubber. Reigning Endurance Cup champions Mercedes-AMG Team Black Falcon and their trio of 2018 drivers – Yelmer Buurman, Maro Engel and Luca Stolz – are all back to defend their crown. But they’ll have plenty of competition, as 18 other crews are all fighting for title honours in the Pro category. In all, 10 marques are represented: Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Honda, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. The GT4 European series will also be present at Monza, with a 37-car grid and 11 different brands.

The product:
Pirelli will supply its P Zero DHD2 slick tyre specifically designed for GT racing and proven in numerous championships around the globe. This is available in a hard compound only that can cope with the circuit’s demands but also provide the opportunity for double stints. The Cinturato WH is available in case of rain.

Matteo Braga, Pirelli racing technical manager: “At our home event, Pirelli has a strong presence both on and off the track. Monza remains one of the biggest challenges of the year, where the winning strategy consists of balancing the sometimes conflicting demands of performance and durability. Above all, it’s about ultimate speed, making this opening round of the Endurance Cup more of a sprint event by nature. With a number of new cars and drivers, the teams will have to dial themselves into the track quickly during free practice to maximise every opportunity. The weather is often a question mark; last weekend we had a three-hour race at Monza for the Italian GT Championship in mixed conditions.”

Practical info:
The race takes place on Sunday April 14 at 3pm CEST, taking place after a trio of qualifying sessions to set the grid at 9:40am CEST. In addition, there will be three hours of track time for the drivers on Saturday, with free practice followed by a pre-qualifying session.

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