Pirelli heralds a ‘new era’ in the World Superbike Championship

28th January 2013

Pirelli's racing director Giorgio Barbier has acknowledged that the time is right for the organisation to introduce 17-inch tyres to the World Superbike Championship.

The Italian company is eager to see the motorbikes of the prestigious motorsport to bear a closer resemblance to its road-going equivalents.

Such a strategy is to begin by Pirelli upping the size of its tyres from 16.5-inches to 17-inches, in a move that the World Superbike Championship's control tyre supplier has heralded as a "new era" for the motorsport.

Mr Barbier pointed out that the news should not come as any huge surprise, as the discussion to introduce 17-inch tyres to the series began back in 2004 when Pirelli became the official tyre supplier to the championship.

The original thinking behind the move, Mr Barbier told Crash.net, was to make a World Superbike motorcycle's tyres as close in design as road-worthy products. This would include the tyres being the same size and having a similar tread pattern as well.

However, Pirelli's racing director noted that this plan was scrapped in 2004 as it was determined that 17-inch tyres would cause competitors to lose ten seconds per lap.

Fast forward to the present day, and Mr Barbier has noted: "Now I think the market is ready. When I say market, I mean the manufacturers start to produce for three or four years ago sport bikes with the right sizes.

"With a big, huge rear tyre, with a good front and the chassis on the bikes, it becomes really close to what we use in the race. And now it's the right time to leave some of the exotic things from Superbike and go with what is used on road bikes."

On top of this, Mr Barbier believes "it will be easier for the road tyre users to understand the work we do, because all the time we say we make Superbike tyres for our road users, but before they were 16.5-inches".

The announcement for Pirelli to bring 17-inch tyres into the World Superbike Championship comes soon after the well-known tyre supplier announced a new range of "revolutionised" tyres for the 2013 Formula One (F1) season.

These particular tyres come in six designs, including an orange-rimmed variety which replaces the silver compound in a strategy aimed at making the products much easier to recognise.

According to Pirelli, both its new dry and wet-weather F1 tyre ranges have been revised with designs which see the compounds become softer, the structures more flexible and their shoulders more reinforced.

It is hoped that all of this will amount to an even more thrilling F1 season in 2013, with the tyres set to increase the amount of pit stops per race and create additional overtaking opportunities.

Paul Hembery, the motorsport director at Pirelli, noted: "The 2013 season continues the philosophy adopted by Pirelli last year in evolving the original 2011 range of Formula One tyres.

The goal is to continuously set new challenges for the drivers and to ensure that all the teams start the new season on a level playing field when it comes to the tyres."

Motorsport fans can see Pirelli's new World Superbike Championship tyres in action when the tournament's 2013 season kicks off on February 24th on Phillip Island, in Australia. The 2013 F1 campaign kicks off just under a month later when the Australian Grand Prix takes place in Melbourne on March 17th.

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Posted by Danielle Barge