Pirelli unveil tyre solutions for season-opening Australian Round

Thursday, 22 February 2024 04:29 GMT

With a new surface providing an extra challenge, Pirelli have stuck with what they know for their tyre allocation for this weekend

The first round of any season in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is always key, let alone one that’s shaping up to be as unpredictable as 2024. One aspect that is vital is the tyres that Pirelli bring to the round, and the Italian company have announced their solutions for the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round. With a new surface to contend with at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, there are limitations in place on tyre usage as well as flag-to-flag races in both WorldSSP and WorldSBK being announced.

AVAILABLE TYRES IN WORLD SUPERBIKE: hardest compounds selected

Pirelli have opted to bring the hardest compounds to Phillip Island, a circuit that, due to its fast corners and high speed, is demanding on tyres. At the front of the bike, riders can choose from the SC1 and SC2 standard tyres, while there are two SC0 rear tyres available to use in Saturday’s Tissot Superpole session. Due to the compulsory pit stop and flag-to-flag race, two more sets of tyres can be used compared to the normal allocation. In the recent Official Test, several riders were able to go under the existing lap record, with the first ever 1’28s completed.

SAME CHOICES: two front tyres, one rear in WorldSSP

In WorldSSP, it’s a similar story to WorldSBK. There are two front tyre choices – the standard SC1 soft and SC2 medium compounds – for running in the dry, while there’s only one rear option. The SC1-A debuted at this circuit two years ago and has become a vital part of the allocation. Like in WorldSBK, due to the flag-to-flag races, extra sets of tyres are available to the WorldSSP competitors for their first round of the season. In the Official Test on Monday, Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) went under the existing lap record as he utilised the new surface to its potential.

RACE CHANGES: pit stop windows for both Championships

Both WorldSBK and WorldSSP will feature pit stops in Race 1 and Race 2. In WorldSBK, a reduced 20-lap distance (down from 22) means the pit window will be open between Laps 9 and 11 while in WorldSSP, where the race distance is the original 18 laps, it is between Laps 8 and 10. Riders will have to change their rear tyre during their pit stop, while changing the front tyre will be optional.

PIRELLI SAYS: “It was a difficult decision to take”

Explaining the decision behind the race format changes, and Pirelli’s allocation, the company’s Motorcycle Racing Director, Giorgio Barbier, said: “We know this track very well, nevertheless every year it’s a whole other story because at Phillip Island the variables that can influence tyre behaviour are many and often unpredictable. This year the most critical element is represented by the new asphalt which has almost completely reset the references we had. I remind everyone that the tyres for this race were shipped from Europe at the end of November while the resurfacing of the circuit was completed only a few weeks ago. Therefore, in the absence of data on which to base ourselves, we thought it appropriate to rely on the racing solutions used successfully in the last two seasons.

“We have seen in the tests that the asphalt offers a lot of grip, to the advantage of the flying lap time, but on the other hand it is very aggressive with the tyres, especially at high temperatures, causing unusual peaks in tread compound temperature on the left side with consequent tyre degradation: we detected up to 160 degrees Celsius in pit lane which we estimate could reach operative peaks of more than 200 degrees. Considering this evidence, in agreement with Dorna, FIM and Race Direction, we have decided that for the races of both classes it will be mandatory to make a pit stop to change tyres. It was a difficult decision to take, also because, as always happens in these cases, some teams would have wanted to try racing over the full distance. However, Pirelli believes that the safety of the riders must be the absolute priority in such circumstances.”

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