Pirelli Showcases Tech Evolution of Ferrari GT Tires
At the FINALI MONDIALI this weekend, six era-defining sports cars, six of their racing variants, and six competition tires that were built especially for them will be presented.
The story of the Ferrari Challenge covers 26 years and some of the most important models ever to come from Maranello. Pirelli knows this territory well, having been the exclusive tire supplier to the Ferrari Challenge ever since the championship made its debut.
The Ferrari 348 Challenge was derived from the 1989 348 TB and TS, carrying over the road car’s 3.5-liter V8 engine that put out 320 horsepower. The very first Ferrari Challenge tire was a 17-inch slick with different sizes at front and rear (245/620-17and 265/640-17 respectively). Just like the car, the tires also had a strong link with their road-going equivalents: to make them, Pirelli used the normal P Zero moulds, but with a specific construction and compounds.
The new 355 Challenge car had the safety devices needed for competition and bespoke Pirelli tires. The Italian firm made its first 18-inch tires for Ferrari’s one-make series which remained for 10+ years.
The third car to debuted in 2000: the 360 Challenge which had some important modifications and increased 415 horsepower. The tires were required to perform better as well, but the generation of Pirelli tires that was born with the 355 was still more than capable of responding to the demands of cars and drivers, which meant that only new tire sizes and compounds were introduced.
The 430 Challenge boasted the first carbon ceramic braking system of any Ferrari competition car, so the tires also needed some important modifications. The first 19-inch tires were made, both as slicks and wets, but these became ‘full wet’ tires for the first time, with a specific full wet tread pattern.
In 2010, the acclaimed Ferrari 458 Italia took to the track with the same 570 horsepower as the road car but weighing 100 kg lighter and with specific engine mapping and a competition exhaust. There was also an electronic rear differential that required the tires to work in parallel with it. Pirelli adapted the tire dimensions and compound, while maintaining the same wheel size.
Turbocharging came to the Ferrari Challenge in 2016 with the arrival of the 488 Challenge. Pirelli developed new tire sizes for the 488 Challenge to cope with the car’s extra performance.