The Temple
of Speed

The Temple of Speed 01

Monza, the opening round of the Blancpain GT Series this year, is all about speed. Its nickname – the ‘Temple of Speed’ – has been around since the track was built in 1922, but that doesn’t quite do justice to just what a visceral experience it is. More so in a GT car than an F1 car in many ways, as the experience is much less abstract.

These are recognisable cars that need to be driven in a very real sense, rather than aerodynamic spaceships that bear about as much resemblance to everyday motoring as Iron Maiden does to Vivaldi.

That’s why GT racing is one of the most relevant forms of motorsport out there when it comes to developing technology. The cars you’ll see in GT racing are directly derived from road-going supercars – only faster, and more extreme – which is a key part of the appeal.

The Temple of Speed 02

Exactly the same applies for the tyres, which not only bear the same P Zero name as Pirelli’s most famous road products, but also have a number of technologies and production processes in common.

Pirelli often describes competition as the ultimate research and development laboratory, and nowhere is that more evident than during the popular GT weekend at Monza. If the tyres can survive the Parabolica, they can conquer any other normal road, anywhere.

The straights at Monza accelerate the tyres up to nearly 300kph, before heavy braking tests the amount of grip available in the opposite direction. The corners at Monza are long and quick, meaning that the tyres also have to cope with sideways forces in the region of 1.6G as well as extensive downforce. Often, you get three sets of forces affecting the rubber at the same time: longitudinal, lateral, and vertical. Not just that, but Monza is also renowned for its high kerbs, which the drivers have to hit in order to straight-line the chicanes: the equivalent to a punch in the stomach during each one of the 100 or so laps that will make up the Monza race over three hours. Think of it as a true boot camp for tyres.

The Temple of Speed 03

Weather too can be a question mark, with anything from intense heat to torrential rain entirely possible in northern Italy at this time of year. But whatever happens, the drivers have to tame the 550 horsepower that each GT3 car produces on average, often at close quarters as the competitors trade paint on the charge down to the first corner. There’s the real challenge. Precision needs to be measured in millimetres, but drivers still occasionally cross the border between bravery and recklessness. This can happen anywhere – but at Monza, it happens quicker.

Don't’ be fooled by the ‘endurance’ bit in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup: this will be a flat-out sprint race. Looking after the tyres is a factor but making them go as quickly as possible is always the priority. 

Read more