Pirelli’s “Big Weekend” of Motorsport
On January 27 Pirelli faced up to what it has called one of the most challenging weekends in its motorsport history, simultaneously competing in two of racing’s biggest events. As well as the Monte Carlo Rally, won by the Citroen C4 of Loeb and Elena, there was the Daytona 24 Hours – which witnessed the success of Montoya-Franchitti-Pruett-Rojas in the PZero Racing -equipped Lexus-Riley fielded by the Ganassi-Sabates team.
The former McLaren-Mercedes and Williams-BMW F1 driver underlined the extreme toughness of this opening round of the Grand-Am series, to which Pirelli is acting as sole tyre supplier between 2008 and 2010 – as is also the case for the WRC. During the Daytona race the lead changed an incredible 60 times, with 15 different cars and 25 different drivers taking it in turns to head the action in front of a chasing pack that numbered 66 competitors at the start.
Behind the winning PZero shod vehicle were two sister cars in second and third place; second went to the Team Gainsco Riley of Johnson-Gurney-Fogarty-Vasser, which finished two laps behind the winner. Briscoe-Busch-Castroneves took the Team Penske-Taylor Riley-Pontiac to third place, four laps behind the second-placed car (which starred the ’07 Nascar champion Jimmie Johnson).
In the GT category the win went to the Mazda-Pirelli of Ham-Haskell-Matos-Tremblay, who drove their Team Speedsource RX-8 to a brilliant ninth overall in front of three Porsche 911 GT3s.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director, commented on Pirelli’s “big effort” over the weekend: “We supplied Pirelli PZero tyres to all the teams taking part in two of the most significant and historic competitions in all of motorsport, such as the Monte Carlo Rally and the Daytona 24 Hours. As everybody knows, they form part of the FIA World Rally Championship and the Grand Am series respectively and Pirelli is proud to be the official tyre supplier to both.”