Pirelli bringing 3,500 P Zero tires to 7-hour racing season finale

Jan. 1, 2020
Pirelli will close its first season as the official tire supplier of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series with 2008’s second-longest race – this weekend’s SunRichGourmet.com 1000 at Miller Moto
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Pirelli will close its first season as the official tire supplier of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series with 2008’s second-longest race – this weekend’s SunRichGourmet.com 1000 at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah.

Saturday’s event is the 14th and final Rolex Series race of the year, and is has an 11:08 a.m. MT start at the massive 4.486-mile, 24-turn Miller road course. The 1,000-kilometer endurance race will be broadcast live on the SPEED Channel, with coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET with a run-time of about seven hours.

In preparation for a race that trails only the season-opening Rolex 24 in length, Pirelli is bringing ample P Zero racing tires, support equipment and technical personnel from both sides of the Atlantic for the full-on assault in the Utah desert.

A total of 3,500 Pirelli P Zero racing tires, in both dry and wet-weather configurations, have been shipped to the track. Support will be provided by 20 tire technicians, eight tire engineers from Italy and the U.S. and a corporate management team, all operating out of seven trailers that make up the Pirelli compound in the Miller paddock.

“The biggest difference from the track at Miller to some other tracks where we race is the dust and dirt,” says Memo Gidley, who will drive the No. 77 Kodak/Doran Racing Ford Dallara for the second-straight year. “It will be a little bit like the conditions we dealt with one race ago in New Jersey, so that was a good primer. The tire is going to have to endure a lot of tough conditions, but I was very happy with how the Pirellis performed at New Jersey. There was a lot of dust, dirt and rocks but still the racing was pretty good and I think we will see the same in Utah.”

In addition to liking the durability of the tires, Gidley admires the fact that the new Pirelli P Zeros open up more areas of the track for drivers due to their outstanding grip. “It has been similar everywhere we go,” he explains. “The Pirellis create wider room on which to race. You have more grip and can attack in areas where you couldn’t before. The room to battle is bigger with the Pirellis and they just really make for more of an on-track battle zone.”

Gidley and former teammate Michael McDowell chased Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson to the checkered flag in the inaugural 1000k race at Miller two years ago where they finished second. Negri and Patterson won the New Jersey race one event ago and look forward to returning to a track on which they won their first major race with Michael Shank Racing.

“The new Pirellis are much more consistent and there is much more performance from the tire longer in the run,” says Negri, who shares the No. 60 Shank Ford Riley with Patterson. “Before, the tires were limiting what you could do, but now the drivers can push the whole time and make the difference. The other thing is that for a pro-am team like us, it helps us a lot with the set up. Now, I will drive the car in practice and then turn in it over to Mark, and when I get back in the car after he has had laps, the Pirellis are still good enough that we can keep making changes that mean something. We’ve run tires as much as 180 miles and have still been able to keep making good changes to the car.”

While Negri and Patterson will be looking for back-to-back 2008 Rolex Series wins and a second Miller triumph, Gidley’s bid for his first win of the season will get a boost from a third driver. Gidley and teammate Brad Jaeger will be joined by Burt Frisselle, who has driven other Ford Dallara Daytona Prototypes on Pirellis this year.

“There are two things that the Pirellis are going to effect this weekend,” Frisselle says. “First, I would expect faster laps and new track records with the number of corners this track has and the amount of grip the Pirellis give us. We have been faster everywhere this year with the Pirelli and it will not be any different at Miller.

“Secondly, because Miller is run at such high altitude, we are expecting to have longer stints because the fuel mileage should be a bit longer,” Frisselle continues. “So the consistency of the Pirellis over the longer stints is going to be really important and they have performed well in long runs this year. (This) is going to be my first time in the No. 77 car and I am really looking forward to having a good run with Brad and Memo. The car has been sneaky fast on occasion, and hopefully we can be strong this weekend at Miller.”

For more information, visit www.us.pirelli.com.

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