Pirelli will be back in Sardinia for its second World Rally Championship tire test later this month, and will subsequently commit to a test per month before its full-time series return at January’s Monte Carlo Rally.
Pirelli’s rally activity manager Terenzio Testoni told DirtFish that Sardinia would offer an opportunity to confirm data discovered at the first test on the island last month. Thereafter, the focus for Andreas Mikkelsen and Pirelli’s Citroën C3 WRC test car will switch to cooler conditions and lower grip gravel.
“We’re going back to Sardinia for two reasons,” said Testoni. “The first is because we still have very warm conditions there and we can find the limits of the tire wear and the consistency and the other reason is to back-up the data we have from the first test. We need to understand all the time how we can improve from the first test.
“The plan will be the same as for the first test: one day on gravel and one day on asphalt. Basically, from here we want to be doing a test every month.
“The priority after Sardinia will be to move somewhere with cool conditions and lower grip – Wales would be a possibility, it’s cold and raining a lot there! And Finland could be a possibility.
“We have to see what is happening with coronavirus and where we are allowed to go, it could be complicated. But [we] also have to have answers when the teams are asking us how will the product be in hot and cold conditions.”
Testoni reiterated the emphasis on durability and consistency over outright performance – with that plan at the centre of Pirelli’s plans for the Monte Carlo Rally.
“We expect everything to be okay for Monte Carlo,” said Testoni, “we have a small window [for Monte testing], but generally on Tarmac we have a lot of know-how and already some customer drivers who have been using the tire.
“We will have a new tire for Monte with some changes in terms of [avoiding] punctures. When we’re working in the open market, of course the priority is to be fast.
“We want the tire to be fast in the WRC next year, but also have the priority of durability – that’s why we’ve added more strength and integrity to the sidewalls.
“Right now the priority is to have a better understanding of how the car works on gravel – we have a lot of experience from the tires on asphalt in the Italian championship.
As well as bespoke sets for Monte Carlo, Pirelli will also be producing specific tires for round two in Sweden. Again, Testoni is confident after seeing the firm’s product used by Takamoto Katsuta with a factory Toyota Yaris WRC on Finnish snow last season.
“We’ve done some endurance testing with the tires in Sweden and Finland with Taka and it’s been good,” he concluded. “We know how things are on the ice, but if we have gravel like we did this year [in Sweden], then we don’t know so much for this.”