Pirelli Finalises Its Commitment To The 2006 GT Racing Season

Milan, 13 March 2006 - Pirelli has now fully defined its involvement in GT motor racing for this year. As was the case last season, Pirelli Competizioni will be supporting extremely competitive teams, active in the three top series of Grand Tourer motor racing. They are the international FIA-GT Championship, the Le Mans Series and the American Le Mans Series. As well as these three key track racing disciplines, Pirelli will also compete in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, which will take place in mid-June. In the FIA-GT Championship, the world title chase that kicks in two months, Pirelli P Zero Racing tyres will be used by no fewer than six of the most competitive cars in the international series, which begins at Silverstone (GB) on 7 May and ends in late November on the Dubai (UAE) circuit. In the GT1 class, Pirelli will be the official tyre supplier to the Maserati MC12s of Team Vitaphone, which will include the German team's owner Michael Bartels, together with Andrea Bertolini. Thomas Biagi has been confirmed as the driver of the second Vitaphone car and his crewmate will be Pedro Lamy, one of the best GT racing specialists and ex-Lotus Formula One driver. A third Maserati entered by Racing Box will compete in at least nine of the championship's 11 races. Their Modena two-seater will be driven by Massimo Cioci and Stefano Livio. Other teams that will continue to take advantage of Pirelli Competizioni's on-track support include GLPK-Carsport, who will retain the crews that won them the Imola and Zhuhai races last year, comprising Anthony Kumpen, Bert Longin and Mike Hezemans, The Corvette C5R the team raced in 2005 will be replaced by the much more recent C6R, similar to the car that won its category at Le Mans last year. To those four cars will be added two Aston Martin DBR9s to be entered by BMS Scuderia Italia - winners of the 2003 and 2004 FIA-GT Championships - and will be driven by Pirelli's official test driver, Fabio Babini, who will compete with Fabrizio Gollin, while Miguel Ramos and Christian Pescatori will alternate on the other DBR9. In the GT2 class, Pirelli P Zero Racings will be used by the Porsche 996 GT3-RSR of Team Ebimotors, a car officially supported by the German manufacturer. The drivers will be Emmanuel Collard-Luca Riccitelli and Chicco Busnelli-Luigi Moccia. The GT2 class will also see the return of Ferrari, two of whose new 430 GTCs fitted with Pirelli tyres will be entered by Ecurie Ecosse for Kirkaldy, Mullen, Kinch and another driver who has yet to be named. Pirelli will also provide its tyres and service for a team officially supported by Porsche in the Le Mans Series, the 1000-kilometre endurance championship. The team is Autorlando, which will enter a 996 GT3-RSR for Marc Lieb-Joel Camathias and a second car for a Danish crew, which is now being defined. As well as the two Porsches, Pirelli Competizioni will have another four teams running P Zero Racing among its clients. Of the competitors entered for the 2006 Le Mans Series, one car with a good chance of success is the Panoz Esperante of Team LNT, whose drivers are Kimbersmith-Dean-Tomlinson and a second British crew, plus two Ferrari F430 GTCs. One of the Ferraris will be run by JMB Racing and driven by Kutemann-Gosse, while the other will be entered by GPC Corse for Drudi-Rosa. Pirelli will support both the Aston Martin and works Panoz Esperante teams in the American Le Mans Series. With its drivers Lamy-Sarrazin-Bright and Turner-Enge-Kiesa - the latter an ex-Minardi F1 standard bearer - Aston will be among the hot favourites for the 12 Hours of Sebring in Florida on 18 March, as will the official Panoz Esperante, which was already extremely effective in 2005, when it won its category at Road Atlanta. For the American team, the racing commitment with Pirelli Competizioni will develop over the duration of the American Le Mans Series, with drivers of the calibre of David Brabham - winner of the 1991 24 Hours of Spa, second overall in the 1999 ALMS classification in a Panoz and second in the 2003 Le Mans in a Bentley - and double ChampCar winner in 2004 and 2005, Sbastien Bourdais. The two will be joined by highly talented drivers Scott Maxwell, Tom Millner and Gunnar Jeannette. Pirelli will also supply its P Zero Racings in ALMS, a series to be staged in both Canada and the United States, to Team Konrad for the 12 Hours of Sebring. Drivers entered by that team include Paolo Ruberti and Tom Weickardt. And, of course, Pirelli is to compete in the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As engineer Pierluigi De Cancellis, Circuit Manager of Pirelli Competizioni, observes, "The French race is one of the most important in our programme. At the legendary endurance race, which will take place in mid-June, we shall compete with the Aston Martin DBR9s of Scuderia Italia, who will be aiming for victory in the GT1 category, and they will be competing against the works Corvettes - winners in 2005 - and a number of other extremely competitive cars. That is the reason why P Zero Racing tyres are chosen by teams able to offer victory to Pirelli Competizioni at Le Mans and the principal championships for GT cars that take place through the world where Pirelli is present. In all of our activities, therefore, the objective is to continue to improve on the excellent set of results achieved in 2005, when Pirelli Competizioni won the Drivers' and Team titles in the Le Mans Endurance Series and the Constructors' and Team championships in FIA-GT." The 2006 GT Championships' season (international): FIA-GT Championship 07/05 Silverstone (UK) 28/06 Brno (CZ) 02/07 Oschersleben (D) 30/07 Spa-Francorchamps (B) 03/09 Dijion (F) 17/09 Mugello (I) 01/10 Bucharest (RO) TBC Zhuhai (CN) TBC Sakhir (BRN) 17/11 Dubai (UAE) Le Mans Series 09/04 Istanbul (TK) 14/05 Spa-Francorchamps (B) 16/07 Nrburgring (D) 27/08 Donington (UK) 24/09 Monza (I) 74rd "Le Mans 24 Hours" 17-18/06 Le Mans (F) American Le Mans Series 18/03 Sebring (Florida, USA) 13/05 Houston (Texas, USA) 21/05 Lexington (Ohio, USA) 01/07 Lakeville (Connecticut, USA) 15/07 Salt Lake City (Utah, USA) 22/07 Portland (Oregon, USA) 20/08 Elkhart Lake (Wisconsin, USA) 03/09 Mosport (Ontario, CDN) 30/09 Braselton (Georgia, USA) 21/10 Monterey (California, USA) For more information and pictures on Pirelli's motorsport activities visit: www.pirellicompetizioni.com Download the PDF (PDF, 110KB)