Talking With Peter Tyson
VP of Marketing, Pirelli North America

Russell Wittenberg found Peter Tyson at Sebring on Wednesday, and with the significant news that Risi Competizione has switched to the Italian tyres – and the ACEMCO Saleen running on them too of course – it was a good time to find out about Pirelli’s motives for racing in the ALMS.

dailysportscar.com“As you know Pirelli pulled out of racing about three years ago. We needed to take a break and evaluate our company and its focus for the future. We have reorganized the company and retooled our manufacturing facilities and I believe we have come back much stronger than we left. The quality of our products is much improved and we are more focused. Our main concern is with sportscar racing, and the ALMS in particular. We have the capability to supply tires for any class, but our main thrust will be with the GT and GTS programs. It is important for our customer to identify our tires with cars such as Ferrari and Saleen. We also want to - and do already - supply tires for their road cars.

“In 2003 we put into operation a new mixing program that is unique to Pirelli. Because the new program allows for a broader choice of raw materials, we have discovered a new compound. Usually technology developed from racing is used on the road tires. But in this case the road tire was born first. As soon as this tire hit the track it was an instant success. You will see a lot of this compound in the ALMS this season.

“So we are here this week to kick off the season with two of our top new teams. It has been a very encouraging test so far. It is still early, but both teams are already comfortably doing fast times. We have brought lots of different tire compounds but they are all the same construction. By the end of the week we can start to associate the right compound for each set-up.

“We are doing a lot of work on tires specifically for the 360. The Modena engine suffers a little more from the restrictors than the Porsche, so beating the Porsches will be very tough, but we think it can be done. We think we can narrow the gap between them with the tires, especially on certain circuits that we are already comfortable with. There are a few circuits that we just do not have enough track time at. I guess that is one disadvantage to being the new kid on the block. We have some holes in our armor but we are testing hard to fill them. And we have two teams here that have the resources and capabilities to do the testing with us. If a relatively small team like ACEMCO can beat the Corvettes, that is big news - and that is what we are aiming for.

“So why is Pirelli back? Racing is about demonstrating your technical prowess. For Pirelli, racing is a marketing exercise and it is right that we should be here.”

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