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Intercontinental GT Challenge

New Pirelli Tire “More Durable”, Well-Received by Teams

Versatility, durability of Pirelli’s 2018-spec tire well received by Blancpain GT teams…

Photo: Olivier Beroud Images

Reception to Pirelli’s new-for-2018 GT3 tire compound has been positive, with teams feeling “more confident” this year, according to Circuit Technical Manager Matteo Braga.

The Italian manufacturer, which serves as the exclusive tire partner for the Blancpain GT Series and various other SRO-run championships, introduced the P Zero DHD2 this year.

According to Braga, the third-generation tire provides a wider operational window for setup, which could benefit teams in this weekend’s Total 24 Hours of Spa.

“All the teams seem to be happy and the modification has gone in the direction that everybody was expecting,” Braga told Sportscar365.

“For a few models of cars, it gives a bigger [working] window for the setup so they feel more confident. So far, it looks good.

“We had a couple of races like Silverstone and Paul Ricard where we had the new surface so it was completely new for everybody and all the parameters from last year were just on the paper because the cars were seconds faster than last year.”

The DHD2 comes after struggles from several GT3 manufacturers, including Lamborghini and McLaren, on the previous-generation DHD compound last year. 

“The tire is more durable, materials have been changed,” Braga explained. “The main problem from last year with a few models of cars, was just that they didn’t have [much] room to play in with the setup.

“They had to stay close to some running conditions and they were not on the range that they were expecting but, in the end, they won the races.

It has a wider range of use, in terms of setup. In terms of ambient conditions and track conditions, it is more or less the same as last year.”

DHD2 Global Rollout in Works

Pirelli is planning to introduce the P Zero DHD2 globally, with the aim of having one specification across all the GT3 series it serves.

It is currently used in European series as well as the Blancpain GT Series Asia, while other championships, such as Pirelli World Challenge, are using the DHC compound.

“That was already the plan last year to extend and have only one fitment worldwide,” Braga said. “Now, we think that we can, so we would like to go for that.

“In Blancpain Asia, we have already switched for the new product and we are planning to do it in the U.S. later. Australia will be the last one.

In the U.S., Australia and Asia, usually it is a bit delayed just because of timing.”

The tire will be used for the remainder of the Intercontinental GT Challenge season after the DHC spec was run at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour. 

High Temperatures Will Have Impact on Tire Performance

The unusually high temperatures at Spa-Francorchamps are likely to affect tire performance this weekend although Braga doesn’t expect any major problems.

“We are expecting very high temperatures and it is probably one of the hottest we have ever seen,” he said.

“We were here last weekend for the Speedweek so we already have some experience of the conditions because it was hot as well [then].”

Braga believes most teams will be able to manage the effect that the high temperatures, which are set to reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit, will have on performance.

“If it is cooler, it would be better, but the teams are well-prepared so they know how to manage a situation where they have to face higher degradation,” he explained.

“Other teams, they will learn it in the race. It’s just that the teams need to manage consistency and degradation.

“The tire should be OK. It is designed to work in a very wide range. This is not the optimum because it is so hot, but it will work.”

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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