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GT World Challenge America

Pirelli Paddock Pass: Rafael Navarro

This week’s Pirelli Paddock Pass with Rafael Navarro from Pirelli Tire North America…

Photo: Brian Cleary/PWC

This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Chief Marketing Officer for Pirelli Tire North America Rafael Navarro explains what makes Pirelli World Challenge a good fit for the brand, takes us through the logistics of supplying tires to a diverse paddock, and more.

What makes Pirelli World Challenge a good fit for Pirelli’s marketing goals?

“Pirelli World Challenge is the perfect platform for Pirelli to demonstrate that power is nothing without control!

“There is nowhere else in the world you can go and experience a race with a grid as diverse as the one in Pirelli World Challenge.

“We supply the majority of the prestige and premium car brands represented in the field at the OE level which is a great way to showcase our relationships and the hard work we have undertaken to earn this position.

“And the partnership also helps us develop relationships with those car makers that we have not had the opportunity to work with.

“Moreover, it is impactful to be deliver our product message and engage consumers/fans and establish the link to road going cars with the relatable road going platforms participating in the championship.

“Our focus moving forward is to be able to integrate this platform into our B2B programs and be able to use the platform to give a deeper insight into why Pirelli is the right choice for our dealers and consumers alike.”

How does involvement in motorsports, and sports car racing in particular, help Pirelli from a research and development perspective?

“It allows a company that has been actively involved in motorsport for over 111 years of a 146 existence to continue building its prowess and keep its senses sharp in a dynamic environment that is at the core of its business.

“Servicing the needs of prestige and premium car makers is a demanding task that requires engaging in motorsport as a laboratory to help continue developing and validating solutions for the performance requests of the various carmakers we supply.

“These days a large part of this exercise is accomplished through simulation and data analysis in conjunction with the car makers/ teams. This has closed the gap on time needed to introduce new solutions.”

What are the challenges presented by the task of providing tires to very different cars across multiple classes?

“It definitely a challenge. It goes much deeper than making sure you have a particular size in your arsenal. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle.

“You have to consider each type of platform you are dealing with; front, mid or rear engine for example.

“Then you have to consider an array of different parameters which all affect the platform and how it behaves such as; horsepower, car weight, and wheel dimension.

“Another key consideration is to have a complete understanding of the environment in which you will be competing; types of circuits, asphalt, and weather conditions.

“This part of the equation, familiarity with circuits in the region with multiple platforms, was perhaps the biggest challenge we faced in founding a proper motorsport business unit in the NAFTA region in 2007.

“This was a key take-away from our term as the exclusive supplier to the Grand-Am through 2011.

“It was quite a different experience from supplying a handful of GT teams in IMSA prior to that and was an exercise that allowed us to earn our stripes in North American motorsport as a top level supplier.

“This prepared us to put together the World Challenge relationship and know we would make a positive impact.”

What are the logistical considerations that you have to consider when providing tires for a series like PWC with races spread all across North America?

“You have to plan like you are going to battle with military-like precision! Operationally speaking there are a lot of moving pieces of the puzzle.

“You have to do all the back end work that starts with forecasting production needs, having tires built and then getting them shipped in to our trackside service warehouses.

“From there you have personnel and equipment to schedule and move to the various championships and servicing agreements we have in place.

“Servicing over 15 motorsport engagements in the NAFTA region throughout the year including off-season testing means there is always something going on our something to plan.”

What does the future of Pirelli World Challenge specifically, and GT racing more generally, look like to you?

“The challenge is the same for the series as it is for GT racing: provide value to the customer (teams/drivers) and a compelling experience for the fans.

“And it cannot just be thought of in terms of cost to participate, but must be considered in the quality of the product overall, from sporting regulations to paddock activation on down to the content being generated and where it is being transmitted.”

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