Pirelli will debut an updated tire for this weekend’s Rally Portugal, the first gravel event in the World Rally Championship since the new Rally1 cars were introduced.
Drivers will experience an entirely new challenge on the loose surface that Portugal provides, and in order to ensure grip isn’t hindered, Pirelli has introduced a revised range of Scorpion KX WRC gravel tires.
The tires should be more versatile than the asphalt equivalent, meaning they should stand up better to sharp rocks and stones, minimizing the chances of a puncture, and Pirelli’s activity manager Terenzio Testoni believes that Portugal will provide the perfect test for the new rubber.
“As the first gravel rally of the season, Portugal will be a big test for the teams and their new cars, and the first chance to see how they compare on the most common surface in the WRC,” he said.
“It’s also the first opportunity to deploy the new HA and SA compounds of our Scorpion KX WRC tyres.
“These combine what we learned during our first season back in the WRC last year, with the special characteristics demanded by the latest Rally1 cars.”
The nature of Portugal’s stages means that the hard compound tires are likely to be the most popular choice should the weather remain clear, but there is a small chance of overnight showers throughout the weekend, which could change things on the first loop of each day.
“The hard and rocky base of the stages in Portugal means the hard compound is the main choice here, but we can also expect the soft to be popular for the first pass of stages and especially if it rains,” Testoni added.
“A wide range of weather and surface conditions are possible, so this should provide a good all-round test for the tires.”