An intense programme of testing involving over four hundred kilometres of driving on both gravel and tarmac in the heat of Sardinia finished yesterday with Pirelli being very happy with the initial results.
At the wheel of the Citroen C3 WRC test car was Andreas Mikkelsen alongside his co-driver, Anders Jaeger. Mikkelson will be spearheading the development of the Pirelli Scorpion tyres for gravel and P Zero tyres for tarmac, which will be exclusively supplied to the World Rally Championship from 2021 to 2024.
Although the test programme has been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, Pirelli is still on course to deliver its new tyres for next year’s championship, which will kick off with Rallye Monte-Carlo on 18 January.
Overseeing the programme of testing is Pirelli’s rally activity manager Terenzio Testoni who stated that the objective of these programmes of testing is to analyse how the increased power and downforce of WRC cars affect tyre wear, performance, and degradation.
Speaking before the testing began on Tuesday, Testoni explained, “That’s going to be particularly important when it comes to gravel. In the world championship around 80% of the events are on gravel. Luckily, the gravel roads we are testing on – which were previously used on the Rally d’Italia – are among the most demanding gravel stages in the world.”
The choice of former world championship stages is a deliberate one, providing an established reference point when the team returns to those stages later in the development programme.
“We start with the basis of a tried and trusted tyre, then we’ll be running a series of prototypes to see where we can add performance and durability. The task is particularly tricky when it comes to rallying, because unlike a circuit, the road and grip conditions are constantly changing. But we’ll come back to these roads in future, to see how the changes we make to the prototype tyres improve their performance.” added Testoni.
Mikkelson and Jaeger will be back in the C3 WRC next month when the programme of testing continues.