Pirelli gears up for its biggest event of the year
|The start of the 2015 Spa 24 Hours|
Pirelli’s biggest single engagement in motorsport of the entire season is the legendary Spa 24 Hours: an around-the-clock marathon that involves at least 13,000 tyres, 100 people, 26 trucks, five days of action, and a fitting area the size of a football pitch. Spa marks round four of the Blancpain GT Series: a championship exclusively supplied by Pirelli that uses GT3 race-bred versions of the supercars that Pirelli equips on the road. Because of this, it’s the closest link that motorsport enjoys with Pirelli’s road car technology, taking the lessons learned from the track and feeding them directly into a product used by drivers of premium and prestige cars the world over. The majority of the 11 manufacturers represented at the Spa 24 Hours this year nominate Pirelli P Zero tyres as original equipment on their road cars, with more than 2000 homologations of P Zero tyre registered since the ultra high performance brand was introduced. At Spa, the P Zero racing tyre faces its toughest challenge yet, with 24 hours of action over a famous seven-kilometre circuit that includes rapid corners, flat-out straights and several changes of elevation: the most famous of which is of course Eau Rouge. Adding to the complication of Spa is the circuit’s notorious microclimate, which means that it can be raining hard on one part of the track, yet completely dry on another. Last year, torrential rain meant that there were multiple safety cars in just the first few hours of racing, yet the capability of the Pirelli wet tyres meant that the action remained intense, with the lead changing hands several times. Pirelli will supply the P Zero DHC tyre for dry conditions and Cinturato WH for wet conditions. These tyres – supplied in just one tread pattern and compound – have to work equally well on a wide range of different vehicle architectures that include both front and rear mounted engines, with different drivetrain layouts. Not only that but the tyres have to work effectively with a diverse range of driving styles, catering both for professional drivers as well as for amateurs: a philosophy that is fundamental to the highly-successful Blancpain GT Series as well as to the Spa 24 Hours itself, which regularly attracts more than 60,000 spectators. These latest Pirelli tyres can do a double stint if this forms part of the strategy, which equates to around two-hours of flat-out driving, especially at night when temperatures are cooler (even in July, the overnight temperatures often drop below 10 degrees centigrade). However, some teams look for extra performance by changing their tyres every stint: just a small part of the complex high-speed chess game of endurance racing. Among the top competitors taking part in this year’s Spa 24 Hours – the 68th since the race was founded in 1924 – are this year’s Nurburgring 24 Hours winners – Bernd Schneider and Maro Engel – as well as former F1 drivers Will Stevens, Bruno Senna and Giancarlo Fisichella. Last year’s Spa winners, Markus Paltalla and Nicky Catsburg will also be defending their victory – but in different cars this team. BBC Top Gear presenter Chris Harris is another notable name to be taking part, in a Bentley Continental GT3. Among the new cars that will be seen on track are the BMW M6 GT3, as well as the Ferrari 488 GT3 and Porsche 991 GT3 this year. Realistically, there are more than 50 drivers capable of winning, ensuring close competition from start to finish. Pirelli is also supplying the Lamborghini Super Trofeo this weekend, with 50 cars, and the GT Sports Club, which has 25 cars. Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery, who will be present at the Spa 24 Hours alongside his Formula 1 commitments this weekend, said: “In terms of prestige, commitment, and sheer spectacle, the Spa 24 Hours is undoubtedly one of our most important engagements of the year. Nowhere is the link between road and track closer than with the GT3 Blancpain formula, which provides a perfect showcase to demonstrate the adaptability of our tyres to a very wide range of different vehicles. Spa needs no introduction as a real driver’s circuit, which provides an awesome challenge and an unpredictable race on every occasion.” The Spa 24 Hours take place from 30-31 July, starting at 1630 on Saturday. Qualifying takes place on Thursday evening, with super pole on Friday afternoon.
***For further information please contact: Anthony Peacock • +44 7765 896 930 • firstname.lastname@example.org For Blancpain Endurance Series information:www.blancpain-gt-series.com