Testing. Boring to watch, but an essential part of performance when it comes to race day results. That’s especially the case with GT racing, where there are so many parameters to adjust and different things to try. But organising a test tends to be complicated and expensive if you don’t share the cost of track hire.
SRO – the promoter of all the Blancpain GT series that use Pirelli as exclusive tyre supplier – has traditionally partnered with track day organisers Curbstone to host a series of pre-season days at some of the world’s most iconic racing circuits. And next year, the pre-season test tour steps up a gear.
Curbstone’s testing calendar will kick off at the end of February with a trip to Paul Ricard, before nipping over the border to Pirelli’s home at Monza the week after. Barcelona is the next stop before tests at Spa-Francorchamps and the Nurburgring in subsequent weeks. It’s like doing a season before the season even begins. This bespoke testing schedule is designed to minimise costs, which is why car transport from Paul Ricard to Monza, and Spa-Francorchamps to Silverstone is included, as well as hotels and catering. Drivers can sign up for as much or as little as they like.
Technical support is also part of the package, so competitors simply have to arrive and drive. Fuel is supplied centrally and the other essential component to forwards motion – tyres – are also brought to each test circuit by Pirelli.
It's not just the tyres themselves that are coming though, as Pirelli will additionally be providing technical expertise to help teams and drivers get the most out of their rubber: one of the biggest keys to unlocking more performance.
There’s capacity to allow an average of 25 cars on track per test and there will be a tyre fitting and engineering hub in the paddock as well. For teams looking to use the Paul Ricard circuit as a hub or workshop during their pre-season test programme next year, the SRO Race Centre by MMC includes truck storage, a protected workspace and a logistical shipping hub.
As a result, even the smaller teams can benefit from the same resources and opportunities as the bigger teams, creating a more level playing field. The test days are open to GT cars as well as prototypes and anyone else who wants to join in.
Part of this comprehensive test programme includes dedicated Pirelli test days, when competitors will get to try out the latest generation of P Zero competition tyres, which will be revised next year to perform even better.
The first of these Pirelli test days will take place at Monza from March 2-4 next year – just half an hour down the road from the Italian firm’s Milan headquarters – with Barcelona hosting the next test between March 9-10.
Especially during these tests, there will be comprehensive on-site technical support and expertise from Pirelli’s engineers. It’s easy to see why this option is a no-brainer for drivers who want to seriously compete in any of SRO’s GT championships next season, as all competitors will be welcome to test the new-spec tyres used in SRO’s GT3, GT2 and GT4 series.
With in-season testing in most racing categories now limited, it’s crucial to maximise all time available pre-season, as well as expanding knowledge of every element that can deliver an advantage: especially tyres, set-up and circuits. You could call it the unfair advantage.