Why did the intermediate tyres hold up so well for WorldSBK at Aragon?

Sunday, 23 May 2021 14:49 GMT

Attentions up and down the paddock were drawn to Pirelli’s intermediate tyre after an 18-lap race on a drying track gave no issues

Both the Tissot Superpole Race and Race 2 for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship were dominated by the tyre selections up and down the grid, and while the race winner at MotorLand Aragon was using slick tyres for Race 2 for the Pirelli Aragon Round, all eyes were on the intermediate tyres which remained quick and consistent despite the track drying up.

All but two riders started on the intermediate tyres for Race 2, and in the early stages, it looked like they would have the advantage with the track not fully dry. Despite Scott Redding (Aruba.It Racing – Ducati) coming through to win on slick tyres, the intermediates held up well throughout with an epic five-battle for second place ensuing.

It was a similar story in the Tissot Superpole Race, with only one rider taking to the track on slicks as Michael van der Mark battled his way through the field on the SCX rear tyre to finish in fifth place. The split tyre strategy made for some thrilling racing in Alcañiz and Pirelli, after Sunday’s action, explained why the intermediate tyre held up for so long.

Giorgio Barbier, Pirelli’s Moto Racing Director, said: “What we really learnt this year at this place is that this track has good grip in the wet conditions. When I say ‘wet’, I don’t mean damp. This afternoon for example in Race 2, we started with a wet track and it was raining in World Supersport. Whoever used the intermediate was in better shape than those who used the rain rear. I suggested immediately to all of the teams to use this experience, but they said that ‘the track was wetter than this morning, so we have to use the rain’. In the end, everybody followed our advice, and someone risked a little bit more. However, for me it was a calculated risk as Michael van der Mark showed this morning in the shorter race, by being so fast at the end; with five laps more, he could’ve won the race! Redding was very brave to use it this afternoon, Folger as well. Actually, they had an incredible result.”

The intermediate tyre was able to provide grip for the riders using it throughout the 18-lap Race 2, with Barbier adding: “We know, that in certain conditions, this tyre is incredible and very safe as well. Because today, with rain tyres, you risk not to finish the race, but you risk having a lot of sliding after a certain number of laps. With the slicks, it seems impossible to race so the intermediate is the right answer and over the last 18 years, it was used just a few times. One race won by Chaz, one race won by Chilli with the intermediate tyres but to see the value of this tyre, you need the race. No one used this tyre in practice because they consider it as a loss of time. Actually, in a race, if the conditions are right, you can have a big advantage.”

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