Pirelli Star Drivers benefit from pre-season training

Milan, March 23, 2010 Pirelli's five Star Drivers have got their season off to the best possible start by completing a week of media and fitness training; including a test in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X with which they will contest six rounds of this year's World Rally Championship. The five drivers, Nick Georgiou (Lebanon), Peter Horsey (Kenya), Hayden Paddon (New Zealand), Alex Raschi (San Marino) and Ott Tanak (Estonia), completed three days of theoretical preparation in Edinburgh together with their co-drivers, before moving onto a two-day test in Tuscany, where they sampled the Mitsubishi Lancer run by Ralliart Italia for the first time. The five Pirelli Star Drivers will contest World Championship rallies in Turkey (15-18 April), Portugal (27-30 May), Finland (29-31 July), Germany (19-22 August), France (1-3 October) and Great Britain (11-14 November). The three days in Edinburgh covered all aspect of driver psychology, training and fitness, with practical exercises supplementing the classroom teaching. During the two-day Tuscany test, the drivers each tested the car for around 70 kilometres, which were mainly on gravel. The Pirelli Star Driver scheme is a joint effort between Pirelli and world motorsport's governing body, the FIA, which gives talented young drivers from each of the major FIA regional rally championships the chance to compete at the top level. The five drivers participating in the scheme are selected by an international jury, following a shoot-out competition. Pirelli's rally manager Mario Isola, who has kept a close eye on the scheme since its inception in 2008, when Pirelli started a three-year contract to supply the World Rally Championship with control tyres, said: "At the heart of Pirelli's motorsport philosophy there has always been a desire to help talented young drivers, so we are particularly proud of our involvement in the Pirelli Star Driver scheme. The training session, followed by the test, gave all our young drivers the opportunity to start the season as well prepared as they can be for the challenges that lie ahead. All the drivers put a lot into the course and equally got a lot out of it, so we are feeling very optimistic about the season to come." San Marino's Alex Raschi, one of the two European Pirelli Star Drivers, commented: "The training was an extremely useful way for us all to begin the year; it was brilliant because we managed to cover some topics that I would not even have thought of otherwise. There's an extremely strong sense of solidarity amongst the group of Pirelli drivers, and we were all able to push each other quite hard. I'd like to thank Pirelli for the biggest opportunity of my career to date, because otherwise it would be impossible for a young driver like myself to even consider going to the World Rally Championship: the costs are prohibitive. Now it is down to us all to make the most of this unique chance." The next time that all the Pirelli Star Drivers will gather together to drive their cars in anger will be at the shakedown for the Rally of Turkey, on Thursday April 15.