Motorsport News - Rally
Pirelli P7 Corsa Classic revives the golden era of rallying
30th May 2012
THE NEW TYRE HAS BEEN DEVELOPED FOR HISTORIC RALLYING, COMBINING A CLASSIC DESIGN WITH CUTTING EDGE TECHNOLOGY
Markku Alen driving a Fiat 131 Abarth, one of the classic partnerships of the 1970s, takes on Juha Kankkunen in the same Lancia Delta 4WD with which he dominated rallying in the 1980s. To provide the two champions from Finland with some friendly rivalry, reigning Italian Rally Champion Paolo Andreucci drives a Lancia Stratos for the occasion as well. These are the key players, together with an international group of journalists, in the road test of the P7 Corsa Classic, the new historic rally tyre developed by Pirelli. The test took place on the famous Colle San Bartolomeo stage close to Imperia.
The new product joins Pirelli’s competition tyre range and reinforces the Italian firm’s commitment to every discipline in motorsport. Historic rallying is taking off, with a huge fan base, and this calls for greater involvement from all the partners and friends of the sport.
The Pirelli P7 Corsa Classic was launched just before the 2011 Rally Legend San Marino event, and made its competition debut in March on the Rally de Espana Historico with a legendary name behind the wheel: two-time World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz. Driving a Porsche 911 for the first time, Sainz won the event.
The P7 Corsa Classic, created by Pirelli’s Research and Development division for all cars currently competing in historic rallies, is characterised by a classic design and innovative technology in the structure, compound and tread pattern. It is an unprecedented mix of tradition and cutting edge technology, which reinterprets Pirelli’s P7 and P7 Corsa rally tyres by recreating their classic look while adding modern levels of performance and safety.
The new P7 carries over the style of the original tyre from the end of the 1970s and is characterised by a dual road and competition tread pattern, made necessary by modern homologation requirements. The P7 Corsa Classic is capable of high performance on asphalt under all weather conditions, and is very driveable in order to help transmit the huge power of many classic rally cars. Optimal grip is ensured thanks to the bespoke compounds – the dry compound (called the D3), the compound for dry or mixed conditions (D5) and the wet compound (W5) – as well as through the special design of the tread pattern.
The P7 Corsa Classic has a tread pattern that unites two distinct designs: a semi-slick dry pattern and a treaded wet pattern, in the asymmetric layout that is typical of Pirelli’s ultra high performance tyres. The external semi-slick pattern ensures the best possible lateral grip on dry surfaces, the central part of the tyre with a circumferential rib guarantees a precise response to high-speed direction changes, while the blocks on the internal part of the tyre help to evacuate water from the contact patch.
Furthermore, the P7 Corsa Classic uses compounds that are entirely free of highly aromatic oils and provides low ambient noise, in line with Pirelli’s commitment to the environment and sustainability, which conforms to all the latest European legislation. The P7 Corsa Classic is distinguished by an asymmetric tread pattern design and specific compounds to suit different road conditions. The new Pirelli tyre comes in a wide range of sizes to suit all the most prestigious rally cars from the 1970s and 80s. It is also available for 16-inch rims, as used originally by the Lancia Rally 037 and Delta S4.
P7 Corsa Classic has been designed to perfectly match the characteristics of the cars from the golden age of rallying. The cars used to test the new P7 today included the Lancia Stratos with which Sandro Munari won the world championship in 1974 and the Fiat 131 Abarth of Fulvio Bachelli, as well as the Lancia 037 and Lancia S4 of Fabrizio Tabaton, not to mention the Lancia Delta 4WD driven by Alen. Also trying out the new Pirelli tyre were some more recent cars: the Subaru Impreza WRC (the first of the new generation of WRC cars) and the Peugeot 207 S2000: currently driven by Andreucci on the Italian Championship. At the wheel was a wide selection of both past and present champions.
From the P7 to the P7 Corsa Classic
P7 Corsa Classic is the evolution of the famous P7: the tyre that wrote rally history starting from 1973, the year in which it was first developed for the Lancia Stratos.
In the 1970s, inspired by the new Stratos with which Lancia intended to bring the World Rally Championship title back to Italy, Pirelli developed the first P7, with a low profile and radial tubeless structure, together with 0° nylon belts. Compared to other tyres at the time, the new P7 not only presented a completely new structure but also guaranteed a bigger contact patch and greater structural stability even at high speeds, with the possibility of using very large diameter rims. Developed in 195/50 VR size (for the first time the sidewall height was half of the tread width) the P7 was the world’s first ultra low profile radial tyre. With this product Pirelli revolutionised tyre development, which from then on became an integral element of competition car design. After the success of the P7, Pirelli launched the P7 Corsa – known as the ‘king of motorsport’ – both at home and abroad. This tyre was quickly adopted by the most successful teams in rallying such as Lancia, Fiat-Abarth and Ford.
With the P7 and P7 Corsa, Pirelli dominated the world rally scene thanks to many victories from a wide range of champions and manufacturers who used the tyres. The Lancia Stratos, running on Pirelli P7 tyres and driven by Munari-Mannucci, won the world championship in 1974, the year after it was launched. Another Stratos repeated that success the following year, crewed by Waldegaard-Thorszelius. At the same time, the Fiat 124 of Alen-Kivimaki was also running on the new Pirelli radial tyres. In 1976, Pirelli was supplying three leading cars on the World Rally Championship: alongside the two P7-equipped Stratos cars of Munari-Mannucci and Waldegaard-Thorszelius, there was also a Fiat 131 Abarth crewed by Alen-Kivimaki. In 1977, Fiat triumphed with a squad of 131 Abarths driven by Alen, Darniche, Salonen, Andruet and Bacchelli. The strengths of the P7 were so appreciated by Fiat that this tyre was chosen as original equipment when the 131 road car was launched. In 1978 the World Rally Championship went Fiat’s way once more, with the P7-equipped cars winning five times thanks to the crews of Alen-Kivimaki, Rohrl-Geistdorfer and Darniche-Mahe. The third world crown for Fiat came in 1980, again with Rohrl-Geistdorfer and Alen-Kivimaki.
From 1981 Ford joined the Pirelli family: the crew of Vatanen-Richards won the 1981 world title in an Escort RS. There were more new arrivals on the Pirelli P7 tyre the following year: in 1982 the Audi Quattros of Mikkola-Hertz and Blomqvist-Cederberg beat an onslaught from the Toyota of Bjorn Waldegard. Lancia returned to the top of the category in 1983 with the new 037, crewed by Alen-Kivimaki and Rohrl-Geistdorfer, who gave Pirelli it’s seventh manufacturers’ world title. The ageing ultra low profile P7 was still winning in 1984 with Waldegaard’s Toyota Celica and Alen’s Lancia 037, while 1985 introduced some new stars such as Juha Kankkunen in a Toyota Celica and Henri Toivonen in a Lancia Delta S4. They won again in 1986, while the heir to the P7 was being developed. It would be called the Pirelli P Zero and the following year it would carry the Lancia Delta 4WDs of Kankkunen, Alen and Biasion to victory.
The new tyre is available in the following sizes:
Tyre Size Rim Fitment
225/595-15 (235/45R15 80W) 7.5 > 9 Ant. Lancia Rally 037 / Lancia Stratos / Fiat 131 Abarth/ Porsche 911 / Opel Ascona / Opel Manta
265/40VR15 (285/40R15 82W) 9.5 > 11 Post. Fiat 131 Abarth / Porsche 911 Gr.4-2 / Opel Ascona Opel Manta
305/35VR15 (305/35R15 87W) 10 > 12 Post. Lancia Stratos / Fiat 131 Abarth / Porsche 911 Gr.4/Opel Gr.4
290/660-16 (315/40R16 90W) 10.5 > 12.5 Post. Lancia Rally 037 / Lancia Delta S4
230/660-16 (255/50R16 89W) 7 > 9 Ant. Lancia Delta S4
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