Pirelli to make history with prestigous brands at the inaugural 10 Hours of Suzuka
Milan, August 22, 2018 – Following on from the very first major race that Pirelli won 111 years ago, the Peking to Paris road race, today the Italian firm has a global motorsport engagement that reaches from the United States to Japan. As a result, Pirelli brings all the experience gained from the premier GT races of the world, such as the recent Spa 24 Hours, to the Suzuka 10 Hours.
Pirelli’s presence as single tyre supplier at the Japanese endurance race is testimony to the Italian firm’s commitment to enhancing its presence in Japanese motorsport. In fact, Japan was at the very centre of Pirelli’s motorsport expansion plans in 2018. This decision was inspired by the increasing importance of all the races and championships taking place in Japan, such as the 10-hour race held at Suzuka for the first time, as well as the passion of the Japanese people for prestige GT cars, which means that the country makes up the second most important Asian market.
For the Suzuka 10 Hours, Pirelli has brought nearly 5000 P Zero DHD2 tyres to equip the 35 GT3 cars in the main race, as well as the Ferrari 488 Challenge cars that run in their own dedicated one-make series.
Suzuka is one of the most demanding circuits in the world: an extremely technical track that puts drivers and tyres through their paces. There is a constant sequence of medium to high speed corners, which means that the tyres never get a break, especially during the first part of the lap that is very technical and requires maximum precision.
Weather conditions will play a key role as well, with very high temperatures and intense rain storms expected at the same time.
For the very first time, this race takes place in Asia with the same tyres for all the cars, and no specific variations. This benefits the race organisers as well as the teams. The organisers can rely on a stable base to calibrate the Balance of Performance, which has proved to be very effective in equalising the performance of all the different cars. As a result, on-track competition is more closely-matched, and every driver can fight for victory on equal terms.
For the teams, using the same tyres helps to simplify car preparation. The Pirelli P Zero DHD2 tyres are the same as those used at the Spa 24 Hours or the Blancpain GT Asia series, making them a tried and trusted product.
Matteo Braga, circuit technical manager, Pirelli:
“We’re delighted to reinforce our presence in Asia and GT racing with the inaugural Suzuka 10 Hours, which showcases a world-class field on an iconic track, providing a very big challenge for drivers, cars and of course tyres. We are bringing our tried and trusted P Zero DHD2 tyres to Suzuka, which again proved their versatility on a wide range of cars at the Spa 24 Hours recently. With the right compromise between performance and durability, these should play an important role throughout a memorable and historic weekend.”
The Spa challenge continues
A month might separate the Japanese endurance race from the 24 Hours of Spa, but the logistical challenge reduces that month into a matter of days. In fact, preparations for the Suzuka round occurred simultaneously with the Spa operation, seeing around 20,000 GT tyres handled.
History will be made
The weekend marks a historic moment for the 2018 Intercontinental GT Challenge, exclusively supplied by Pirelli, as it visits Suzuka for the first time. It is the 47th Summer Endurance Race at Suzuka. Since 1966 previous guises of the race have included the FIA GT Championship, BPR Series and World Sportscar Championship. The arrival of the Intercontinental GT Challenge sees the race distance being set at 10 hours; its longest length yet.
As dawn breaks on Sunday ahead of the start of the race, Audi will lead the Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ championship in the land of the rising sun. With Mercedes-AMG just seven and four points off each respective championship, a new manufacturer could emerge ahead at sunset.
Track action kicks off on Thursday followed by multiple practice sessions going into the evening on Friday. Saturday sees the exciting top 20 pole shootout after three separate qualifying sessions. The endurance race will commence at 10:00 local time and following a nail biting 10 hours will conclude at 20:00.
A Far East Classic
Suzuka is often touted by motorsport’s elite as one of the true classic global motor-racing venues. The unique combination of a figure of eight layout, numerous series of fast flowing corners and unforgiving gravel traps makes it a highlight on both drivers and fans calendars. Thanks to its fast nature, the Japanese classic places a uniquely high demand on tyres providing Pirelli an opportunity to demonstrate the performance capability of its P Zero DHD2 tyre.
A lap of Suzuka
Similar to Spa, the Suzuka circuit encompasses every type of challenge for a driver starting immediately at turn one. A clean and measured execution is required to reap the benefits on offer here; exit speed is carried for the rest of the sector including the Esses and Dunlop curve. A chance to make up lost ground is on offer at Degner 1 and 2 but lap time and even a chance of finishing the race can be just as easily be relinquished. Passing under the bridge where the circuit crosses back on itself, to one of the slowest parts of the lap at the hairpin. Exiting the hairpin opens one of the most exhilarating run of corners in the world. A fast sweeping right hand corner leads the drivers into a short braking zone for Spoon curve, a double apex left hander. Timing here is crucial thanks to a looming 1.2 km back-straight shooting over the opening sector of the track. The heart in mouth 130R means there is no time to admire the unique cross requiring every available millisecond to time the corner to perfection or suffer the consequences of going off. After a heavy sigh of relief and an adrenaline rush in its purest form comes the Casio Triangle chicane which feels like travelling in slow-motion. The chicane is short, tight and technical. A prominent overtaking spot at Suzuka makes this a particularly difficult braking zone during the race and has bore witness to some major upsets in the past. A short open right-hander and a sprint to the finish completes a lap around the legendary Suzuka circuit. Not bad for a track originally intended as a test track when built in 1962.
For further information about the Suzuka 10 Hours, please visit: www.intercontinentalgtchallenge.com