Pirelli strengthens its links to endurance racing
Italian tyre firm Pirelli, the official supplier to Formula One, is delighted to strengthen its links with endurance racing, following the plans announced by series promoter Stephane Ratel at the Spa 24 Hours in Belgium today.
A new Sprint Series is set to succeed the FIA GT1 World Championship next year, which is currently exclusively supplied by Pirelli along with the FIA GT3 European Championship. The new championship will be combined with the current Blancpain Endurance Series, with an overall title for both. The cars, calendars and tyre regulations will ensure that competitors can take part in both series, with a GT world title awarded to the overall winners.
Pirelli will once again supply tyres to the new championship next year on an exclusive basis, with eight or nine teams planned – each representing a different manufacturer, most of which use Pirelli P Zero as original equipment on their road cars. The cars eligible will be race versions of road-going supercars, as have been seen on the GT Championships successfully equipped by Pirelli this year. Pirelli has claimed a huge variety of class wins in GT racing all over the world, as well as supplying exclusive one-make series such as the Ferrari Challenge, Lamborghini Trofeo and Maserati Trofeo.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery, who attended the press conference at Spa, said: “Although Formula One is the pinnacle of world motorsport, GT racing remains very important to us, because as world leaders in the Ultra High Performance segment, sports cars represent our core business. In fact our motorsport history on four wheels started in endurance racing, with victory on the Peking-Paris road race in 1907. There’s obviously a huge amount of synergy between a high-profile GT racing campaign and the high performance tyres that we make for the world’s most prestigious sports cars, so we’re delighted to support Stephane Ratel in this exciting new venture, which looks set to be both competitive and cost-effective.”
Pirelli has a long and illustrious tradition in endurance racing, ranging from the Le Mans 24 Hours (which it won in 1954 with Maurice Trintignant, Froilan Gonzalez and Ferrari) to recent multiple titles in the American-based Grand Am series.
Series founder Stephane Ratel commented: “We are delighted to benefit from the continuing partnership with Pirelli. With this new series we want teams to be able to consolidate costs between the two series: all they will have to change between races is the stickers on the cars.”
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