15 Feb 08
After introducing two of its new control tyres on the first two rallies of the 2008 WRC season, Pirelli’s new gravel tyre - the Scorpion - will make its competitive debut on the gravel tracks of Rally Mexico.
Following the introduction of the PZero asphalt tyre in Monte Carlo and the Sottozero winter tyre in Sweden, the Scorpion is the last of Pirelli’s new range to make an appearance on a WRC rally; and after widespread acclaim for its asphalt and winter offerings, it has two tough acts to follow.
As is the case for the asphalt tyres, there are two compounds of the Scorpion gravel tyre available, intended to cover all the possible conditions that could be found on the gravel rounds of 2008 WRC series. A hard compound tyre will be used on rallies with a very abrasive surface - like Rally Mexico - while a soft compound will be used for the softer ground or mud of rallies like Wales Rally GB.
The Scorpion has been developed during test sessions carried out all over Europe, using a Peugeot 307 WRC prepared by Bozian Racing and piloted by Italian rally champion Paolo Andreucci.
“We have paid attention to making the new tyres as adaptable as possible, as they need to perform strongly on hard and compact gravel as well as on mud and loose gravel,” said Pirelli’s competition manager, Mario Isola. “Following comparison tests an asymmetric and directional design was chosen, in order to maximise grip under acceleration and braking - as well as providing good lateral grip.”
With anti-deflation mousse banned for 2008, keeping its new tyre puncture-free on the rocky gravel roads around Leon is one of the toughest challenges Pirelli will face this year. Saturday afternoon looks especially gruelling, as crews 75km of repated stages on the same tyres, followed by two passes of the Superspecial. But despite the fearsome reputation of the Mexican roads, Isola says the new Scorpion is up to the job.
“The tyre has been considerably strengthened in order to resist cuts, abrasions and punctures from sharp rocks, potholes, and other such obstacles,” said Isola. “The depth of the tread pattern has been increased in order to make the tyre last longer, and the diagonal tread blocks have been redesigned. The construction of the tyre has been heavily reinforced in order to meet the demands of competition without anti-deflation mousse. Most of the new reinforcements are based around the sidewalls. This is the most vulnerable part of the tyre, where it is easy to pick up a laceration or suffer a failure due to sharp rocks or other obstacles at the side of the road.
“The new construction uses solutions derived from ‘run-flat’ technology, which has already been used to good effect on our road car tyres. As well as reducing the risk of punctures to a minimum, these tyres allow the cars that do pick up a puncture to get to the end of the stage without losing too much time and without destroying the bodywork or any other components. The tyre can then simply be changed on the next road section.” He added.