Rally Il Ciocco signals the start of Pirelli's title defence on the Italian Rally Championship

The eight-round Italian Rally Championship gets underway this weekend with the 38th Rally il Ciocco from 20-22 March, one of the most challenging events of the entire season. The Rally il Ciocco is held on asphalt mountain roads in Tuscany, where unpredictable weather often adds to the difficulty.

Paolo Andreucci begins his Italian
title defence with Pirelli this weekend

Ciocco is the home event of seven-time champion Paolo Andreucci, with his Peugeot Italia team and Pirelli looking to defend their sixth title together this season, having clinched both championships again last year in the debut season of the all-new Peugeot 208 T16 R5. Pirelli will bring the latest RX7 tyres for the Rally il Ciocco, which are designed to be particularly effective on slippery asphalt. The latest evolution of this pattern is the new RX7B for slippery asphalt, designed to offer a little more durability and grip in conditions that are typical of the Rally il Ciocco. For damp conditions the softer RX9 tyre will be used, with a compound better suited to lower temperatures. If it rains, the new soft-compound RE7A is available, with its unique tread pattern intended to disperse water and prevent aquaplaning without compromising road-holding. Other leading Pirelli entries include Andrea Perico, a former runner-up on the Rally il Ciocco, who switches to a Peugeot 208 R5 this year, while Michele Tassone makes his debut in the Peugeot Junior team with a 208 R2. Having dominated all the classes in 2014, Pirelli once again equips all the Renault Clio R3s entered into the Production class and the Twingo R2s in the Junior class. Andreucci, who has won the Ciocco event six times, commented: “As the weather at the Ciocco is so unpredictable, the tyres have always formed an essential key to success on this event. Pirelli has consistently come up with a product that not only performs well but is also very adaptable to a wide range of conditions. The success that we have enjoyed on this rally in the past proves how effective the tyres are. But we are taking nothing for granted and we are expecting a closely-fought event once again this weekend.” The Rally del Ciocco takes in slippery asphalt hill roads, which demand precision from the driver, car and tyres. The event gets underway with a ceremonial start on Friday from Forte dei Marmi. On Saturday the proper action begins with the first of 15 stages that make up a competitive distance of 159.86 kilometres in total. The rally is scheduled to finish at 12:30 on Sunday at Castelnuovo Garfagnana. Pirelli’s product manager Terenzio Testoni commented: “We’re expecting very variable weather conditions for the rally, which is why we are taking along the entire range of dry weather tyres, plus some other options for wet weather. The roads of the Ciocco are very demanding: equivalent to some of the most challenging asphalt conditions in Europe. Over the winter we have been working on various evolutions to the compounds, which have also benefitted from our continued involvement in the World Rally Championship.”