”We arrived in Paris first, only changing two wheels,” went a telegram sent from the French capital in August 1907 by Prince Scipione Borghese, who won the Peking to Paris race at the wheel of a Pirelli-equipped Itala with a huge advantage over his rivals. For that time, on those roads, it was an exceptional result achieved after 16,000 gruelling kilometres that punished drivers, cars and tires. It was also an adventure that brought the public’s attention to the performance and safety of a product that would soon become recognised by the famous Pirelli logo that is now a well-known sight all over the world.
110 YEARS OF MOTORSPORT: On February 14, 2017 Pirelli celebrates its 110th motorsport anniversary. And it did so in a way that marked how times have changed. For many years already though, motorsport has been crucial to both car and bike tires when it comes to developing technology. Pirelli realised this back at the end of the 19th century, when the company’s founder – Giovanni Battista Pirelli – saw how motorbike races could act as a test bed for his road going products. And that’s why this milestone was suitably celebrated in Turin’s national automobile museum – a true icon of motoring history over two centuries, and the current home of the Itala 35/45HP that won in Paris and marked the first real chapter in Pirelli’s illustrious story of motorsport.
A MUSEUM OF GENUINE PRESTIGE: From Prince Scipione’s Itala to the new wider Formula 1 tires that will soon make their competition debut at the Australian Grand Prix, round 1 of the 2017 world championship, the collection of treasures on both two and four wheels equipped by Pirelli represent 110 years of competitive history. But they also provide a window into the present, where motorsport and road going products are more closely linked than ever. A Porsche 911S Turbo road car and Lamborghini Huracan GT3 race car clearly symbolise the striking similarities between the P Zero products (representing the height of Pirelli’s ultra-high performance capabilities) for the road and the track.
The tires on the Ducati from the World Superbike Championship also characterise the motto “we sell what we race, we race what we sell” for many years the calling card of a product that allows bikes to fly on the track, but is equally on sale all over the world for enthusiastic riders to benefit from the performance and safety it brings to their everyday bikes. This is the concept at the heart of Pirelli’s prestige division, which today equips 50 percent of all prestige cars sold. Prestige is a philosophy – the symbol of Pirelli’s mission as the ideal choice for the world’s most powerful, exclusive and desirable bikes and cars. Success in races all over the world forms the shop window for the products that are now displayed in Pirelli P Zero World boutiques. These are shops and service centres designed to respond to the specific and exclusive demands of Pirelli’s discerning clientele. The first of these innovative centres has been open for a number of months in Los Angeles, while others are ready to spring up all over the world.
DOORS OPEN TO ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY: Pirelli’s 110 years in motorsport have also provided an opportunity to open up the doors to the company’s advanced Settimo Torinese facility. Inside is Pirelli’s most state of the art technology. At the heart of the facility is the Next Mirs system – the most digitised industrial production system that currently exists, which represents the culmination of cutting-edge thinking and technology, patented by Pirelli. This is completely robotised and dedicated to the production of high performance tires in sizes between 19 and 23 inches. And it’s where Pirelli’s most performance-oriented P Zero tires are created, destined for the road as well as competition.
But Settimo Torinese is not only about complete tires. The plant also produces compounds, including those used in Formula 1. And all this happens, as is the case everywhere else in the advanced facility, with the maximum respect and care for the environment, as well as the people who work there.
CELEBRATING WITH THE CHAMPIONS: 110 birthdays are a lot to celebrate, so Pirelli was delighted that so many champions turned up for the party, from some of the stars of Formula 1 to the legend that is Alessandro Zanardi, a multiple gold Olympic medallist who has now returned to racing and is straight back to his winning ways with Pirelli. Also present was Stefano Domenicali, the president of Lamborghini, a brand that perfectly denotes Pirelli’s renowned technology transfer between road and track. Other honoured guests include the head of McLaren’s Formula 1 team and Ferrari’s tire specialist. Not to mention leading Formula 1 team personnel who have commented on video about the test sessions that brought the latest generation of new wider tires to the track, as well as the technical prospects for the season ahead. So many champions and so many manufacturers celebrated the 2,200 races and more than 340 championships (between cars and bikes) that Pirelli competes in all over the world. That’s another first, just like the one where Pirelli dominated 110 years ago all the way from Peking to Paris, back when motorsport was something that was still being thought of…
Courtesy Pirelli Press Office