Grand touring in real life
and on the track

Grand touring in real life and on the track 03

How life imitates art
Or rather, how the track imitates the road. Pirelli supplies the majority of the world’s premium and prestige car-makers with tyres: if you buy a supercar, it’s more likely than not to roll out of the factory wearing some form of P Zero tyre. This could be the extreme Trofeo, for track-focussed use, to the more conventional P Zero, which has become a benchmark for ‘everyday’ performance. 
But as well as using Pirelli’s road-going tyres, all these top manufacturers frequently extend the partnership with Pirelli onto the race track. The most prominent example is Formula 1®, where Ferrari, McLaren, and Mercedes obviously use Pirelli tyres at grands prix as well as on the road. But there are many other examples where important partnerships with prestige road car manufacturers are echoed in competition.

Grand touring in real life and on the track 02

Vorsprung durch GT
One particularly strategic partnership is with Audi, which is rapidly consolidating its presence and commercial success in the Far East. In order to make the most of it, the German manufacturer recently announced an innovative partnership with Pirelli to equip the Audi R8 LMS Cup, which visits the most prestigious Far Eastern circuits, thanks to a 10-race calendar that includes three grand prix venues: Sepang, Suzuka and Shanghai. Some of the top driving stars of the region take part, such as former F1® driver Alex Yoong and Le Mans racer Franky Cheng, not to mention DTM (and Macau) ace Edoardo Mortara.
The championship uses the Audi R8 GT3 car, which is a familiar sight on the Blancpain GT Series as well as many other major competitions that Pirelli supplies, such as the Nurburgring 24 Hours. 
So it’s logical that the Audi R8 LMS Cup has also announced a partnership with the new Blancpain GT Asia Series, which is exclusively supplied by Pirelli as well. This will allow Audi competitors to take part in both championships, using the same car and same type of tyre. To help the process further, there’s going to be an aligned calendar for both series, fully subsidised logistics costs, and a free entry into the Spa 24 Hours for the winning Amateur Cup team in the Audi R8 LMS Cup. These cars, of course, are also eligible for the Pirelli-supplied FIA GT World Cup at Macau, which was won by an Audi R8 at the end of last year. It was an unusual victory, as at the time it was travelling on its roof…but that’s another story entirely – which is coming to these pages soon.

Grand touring in real life and on the track 01

P Zero and R8 celebrate a decade together
There will be a number of new features on the Audi R8 LMS Cup this year to highlight the role of the P Zero tyres. For a start, there’s a bigger tyre allocation (three sets for each race weekend) that allows drivers to do more testing in the pursuit of performance. And there will also be the Pirelli Best Lap Trophy, awarded to the driver with the quickest lap in each race. These will be put together at the end of the season to find out exactly who was the fastest lapper of 2017.
This year marks a significant anniversary, as it’s been 10 years since the Audi R8 was first presented in Las Vegas, in January 2007. At the time, it used what was then the latest evolution of the P Zero tyre. Pirelli’s Chief Technical Officer, Maurizio Boiocchi, commented: “Being chosen to supply original equipment for a technological masterpiece such as the Audi R8 represents an honour and a commitment for Pirelli.”
That commitment to the German manufacturer has remained unbroken for a decade: both on the road and also on the track.

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