Pirelli is introducing an “upgrade” to its wet tire for SRO Motorsports Group’s GT3 series, with the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa marking the first step in a global rollout.
The Italian supplier has developed a new wet tire construction package in an effort to address the margin between the PZero DHE slick tire and its treaded equivalent.
The upgrade was used by teams during the official Spa test on Tuesday and will be available at the 24-hour race itself next month before going on to appear at the remaining Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS rounds.
The pre-upgrade wet tire will be taken to the GTWC Europe Sprint Cup fixture at Misano in early July, which takes place between the Spa official test days and race week.
“Since we started to supply SRO, the slicks [have] had several steps of development and the wet had much less,” said Pirelli’s racing technical manager Matteo Braga.
“The gap between slicks and wet now is a bit wider than before. I think that was something that was not taken into consideration. Our plan is we have an upgrade of the existing product. It’s not a big change.”
Asked about how the upgraded wet tire differs from the version used at the start of the 2021 GT World Challenge seasons, Braga said: “Mainly it’s working on the construction.
“You can change many things on the product, but to do a change like that you cannot completely review the product. Otherwise it means the teams lose all their references.
“It means they have to learn a new product. It’s a bit late to advise them, so we’ve just upgraded the construction. It doesn’t affect the performance of the tire too much; it’s just more in line with the balance of the car when it is off slicks.
“If today you set up your car on slicks – and you have a [certain] type of balance – if you switch to wet, maybe the balance switches a bit. So you have to compromise.
“With the new product, it should be more in-line with what you do for the slicks. So if you have a certain balance with the slicks, you change to wet and you should find the same balance.
“Compounds, generation of temperature, aquaplaning and all these characteristics of a wet tire is all the same.”
Braga indicated that the wet tire upgrade was already being discussed last year, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed the timing of its introduction during the 2021 season.
Pirelli then formulated a plan to implement the upgrade at each GT World Challenge series’ corresponding Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli round.
This is achievable this year for Europe and America, with the 24 Hours of Spa taking place at the end of next month and the Indianapolis 8 Hour following in October.
However, the cancelation of the Suzuka 10 Hours has raised uncertainty over when the Asian market might encounter the upgraded product. The current target is to introduce the latest wet tire to all regional markets by early next year.
“Obviously every time we play an upgrade in the product, we want to gradually introduce it to all the markets,” Braga explained.
“We think that the category has to be always on the same tire because of BoP references for the teams, and simplicity to switch from one series to another.
“We need to go one-by-one with all the promoters to understand when is the best time.
“Obviously the main constraint today is always sporting equity. We need to find the right time, not to affect or give advantages to someone, or to change the balance of the series during the season.
“Today the idea is to introduce it together with Intercontinental GT Challenge events, so in America with Indianapolis. Australia with Bathurst, it depends. Not Suzuka, unfortunately. But that was the plan. The idea is to switch series-by-series.
“At each region, we are finding the right spot to do it. But the plan is to switch every country by the end of the year, or early 2022.”