The 2021 World Rally Championship season starts on Tuesday for Andreas Mikkelsen and Pirelli.
The Norwegian will drive Pirelli’s Citroën C3 WRC at a two-day test in Sardinia on Tuesday and Wednesday, establishing baseline durability, degradation and performance for a program run by rally activity manager Terenzio Testoni.
Pirelli will supply all Rally1 tires in a four-year deal starting from January’s Monte Carlo Rally.
Testoni admitted he was jumping in at the deep end, tackling some of the season’s toughest gravel roads on the Italian island.
“In the world championship around 80% of the events are on gravel,” he said.
“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.”
Pirelli has existing products to work from, having supplied private Rally1 cars and WRC2 and WRC3 crews in recent seasons.
“It’s important that we work methodically in order to measure our progress accurately,” said Testoni.
“We start with the basis of a tried and trusted tire, 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 tires improve their performance.”
Pirelli is looking to get close to 250 miles at competitive speeds from Mikkelsen over the next two days.