The Pirelli view on Bathurst
The opening round of this year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge – the only intercontinental series for the world’s top GT drivers, with Pirelli as exclusive tyre supplier – gets underway this weekend at the famous Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in Australia. The Mount Panorama track is one of the most epic on the planet, with several changes in elevation and some truly demanding corners. Pirelli currently holds the track record, set two years ago in qualifying when there was still open tyre competition.
Bathurst provides a formidable challenge for competitors, combining a technical section where it’s hard to overtake, with some faster sections that require massive bravery and commitment. Incidents are common, which has led to a high number of safety car periods in the past.
Pirelli will bring its P Zero slick specifically designed for GT racing to Bathurst, which has been tried and tested in the Blancpain GT Series, plus a wet tyre in case it rains. To cope with the demands of the circuit and expected hot weather during the day, as well as to provide the capability to double-stint, this tyre comes in a hard compound only.
Last year, there were numerous safety car periods during the 12 hours, so tailoring the stop strategy to take advantage of these neutralisations proved to be key. The tyres can be double-stinted, but with the race starting at 05:45 and then finishing the in the late afternoon, ambient temperatures can vary by 15 degrees centigrade or more, which also has an effect on tyre wear and degradation.
Matteo Braga, Pirelli circuit activity manager: “Contrary to previous years, we are bringing just one type of tyre to the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour this time. This works equally well on a wide range of vehicle architectures and should have the effect of closing up the competition by removing a number of variables. As a result, this could be the hardest-fought race here yet. The surface at Bathurst is smooth and low-grip, but with high temperatures and challenging corners, there is a lot of work to do for the tyres. It's a circuit with very specific demands.”