Pirelli talk Phillip Island WSBK Tyres
The eni FIM World Superbike Championship is ready to go; Pirelli gets back to work together with the teams and riders for the 2015 season
As usual, the first round of the 28th edition of the factory-derivative championship is at Phillip Island, Australia. And this is the twelfth year in a row that Pirelli has been the official sole tyre supplier for all categories
Phillip Island (Australia), 13 February 2015 – The top-level motorcycle racing season is back. The eni FIM World Superbike Championship is back – this year in its 28th edition – and once again Pirelli will be the Official Sole Supplier of tyres for all categories.
The Italian tyre manufacturer, after winning the Dorna and International Motorcycling Federation contract last September, will for the twelfth year in a row (and through 2018) be working alongside all the teams and riders to accompany them through a season which will doubtless once again provide excitement and entertainment for all two-wheel enthusiasts who will be watching with bated breath down to the last turn, cheering on their heroes.
To open up the 2015 season, the setting will once again be the spectacular Phillip Island circuit, located in southern Australia on the Island of the same name, 150 kilometres south of Melbourne, in Victoria.
The first round of the season will be held from 20 to 22 February, but the teams will actually already be on the track with Pirelli on Monday and Tuesday for the usual official tests that precede the beginning of the season.
Like every round, Pirelli will be bringing various front and rear solutions for the Superbike and Supersport riders. For Phillip Island there will be several development solutions developed specifically for this circuit which notoriously is one of the most demanding track on an international level for tyre manufacturers.
The Phillip Island track is relatively dated, built in 1956, but it has an exciting layout which alternates fast and sweeping curves, broken up by just two chicanes where overtaking is easy, and the tyres are really pushed to the limit. The longest straight stretch is a downhill in front of the pit lane where some of the highest top speeds of any circuit on the calendar are reached.
Two years ago, in December 2012, the track was completely resurfaced, 14 years after the previous resurfacing. As you would expect, the new asphalt made the track much more abrasive, but at the same time it significantly increased grip.
Phillip Island VS tyres: the most demanding track on the calendar
At Phillip Island the tyres are subjected to constant thermal-mechanical stress, especially on the left side because of the track layout, and overheating generally occurs in one area of the tyre, but it is simultaneously at maximum lean angle and this generates various forces with torsion and very strong diagonal strain.
Therefore, Phillip Island is a track that can simultaneously generate constant mechanical and thermal stress for the tyres.
One of the best known and most feared parts of the track for tyre suppliers and riders is the Southern Loop sweeper. This is the longest of all the turns in the eni FIM World Superbike Championship with a medium-wide radius that forces the bikes into a full throttle, fixed lean trajectory for a very long time.
This means that the tyres are required to work under difficult conditions for a long time with mechanical stress localised on a small strip of tread that undergoes rapid temperature increase, causing a loss of grip. In turn, because of the friction between the tread and the track surface, this causes a further increase in temperature with consequent wear. So, no matter what the weather conditions are at Phillip Island there is a high temperature increase which can potentially cause thermal deterioration of the blend, or the phenomenon better known as blistering, which can be mitigated only by the rider’s skill and a detailed fine tuning of the electronics. On top of this, the high temperatures which are the norm for this time of year on the island must be taken into consideration. Obviously, this further contributes to the deterioration described above.
Also, if on one hand the new asphalt provides good grip which reduces slipping, on the other it is decidedly aggressive with a high level of abrasion, meaning that greater rear-tyre wear must also be carefully considered.
In any case, this year too, Pirelli has developed several solutions which aim to allow the riders to take on the races and combat the many pitfalls of the Australian track.
Pirelli solutions for the Superbike and Supersport classes
Precisely for the reasons mentioned above, in order to cope with the specific characteristics of the track and to place the riders in the best possible conditions to race, Pirelli has designed several development solutions. As always at Phillip Island, since this is a round outside Europe, only the Superbike and Supersport riders will participate, for a total of 3515 tyres brought over by Pirelli.
For the Superbike tests on Monday and Tuesday Pirelli will provide two dry tyres for the front and two for the rear, in addition to the usual back-up solutions in the event of a wet track.
On the front Pirelli has chosen slicks in the SC1 S1699 development solution, a tyre that made its début at Aragon and which was then the most used last season, and the SC2 standard solution.
For the rear Pirelli will provide the riders with two development solutions: the S1633, which was the go-to solution last year for all the riders, and the new S1687, another SC1 compound solution which has higher mechanical resistance compared to last year’s standard SC1 solution.
Additional solutions will also be available to the riders, but only during the race weekend. Basically, all of the rear solutions were developed using specific structural materials with the goal of keeping operating temperatures low in order to prevent overheating in the outer areas of the left-side tread.
As for Supersport, Pirelli’s basic philosophy was the same as that used for the Superbike selections. For the tests on Monday and Tuesday the riders will be able to choose from two dry solutions for the front, one being the standard SC1 and the other the S1485 SC1 development solution which was brought to three races last year as a test tyre in view of subsequent use at Phillip Island. On the rear, the standard SC1 will be available, as well as a new T1538 development solution as an alternative to the standard SC1, designed specifically for the Phillip Island circuit.
Just like Superbike, the Supersport riders will also be able to count on other rear solutions for the race weekend.
The 2014 Pirelli statistics for Phillip Island
• Total number of tyres Pirelli brought: 3580
• Number of solutions (dry, intermediate and wet) for the Superbike class: 4 front and 7 rear
• Number of solutions for the Supersport class (dry, intermediate and wet): 4 front and 4 rear
• Number of tyres available for each Superbike rider: 30 front and 48 rear
• Number of tyres available for each Supersport rider: 31 front and 29 rear
• Superbike Best Lap Awards won by: Chaz Davies (Ducati Superbike Team), 1’30.949 (Race 1, 2nd lap) and Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team), 1’31.421 (Race 2, 12th lap)
• Supersport Best Lap Award won by: Roberto Tamburini (San Carlo Puccetti Racing), 1’33.883 (4th lap)
• Temperature in Race 1: air 21° C, asphalt 32° C
• Temperature in Race 2: air 22° C, asphalt 48° C
• Maximum race speed reached by Pirelli DIABLO™ Superbike tyres: 321.4 km/h, in Race 2 byTom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) at 2nd lap.
• Maximum race speed reached by Pirelli DIABLO™ Supercorsa SC tyres in Supersport race: 280.5 km/h by Jules Cluzel (MV AGUSTA RC-Yakhnich Motorsport) at 5th lap.