I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting much from Pirelli when they were named the spec tire for WSB a few years ago. After all, as the only brand available to the racers, the lack of competition should have bred contentment, not ambition. Boy, was I wrong!
When we wrote about the stunning lap times achieved by Troy Bayliss at the WSB test in Phillip Island on January 14, 2007, we didn’t give much credit to Pirelli, but much credit is due. On a heavier, dramatically underpowered bike by comparison, Bayliss circulated Phillip Island at a pace competitive with MotoGP bikes. Tires logically played a big part.
Indeed, given the lap times Bayliss achieved on a WSB-spec Ducati 999, an argument can be made that Pirelli is achieving grip levels achieved by Bridgestone and Michellin with their MotoGP rubber. Pirelli has dramatically improved its race tire compounds, and recently even increased the size of the contact patch on its WSB-spec rubber.
Moreover, designing race tires for WSB gives Pirelli another advantage. Namely, a closer relationship to its street products by making their race tires work on bikes homoligated directly from street machinery.
Will we see Pirelli support a MotoGP squad in the future? We have no idea, but we are confident Pirelli could produce competitive MotoGP tires.