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Aragon WorldSBK: Pirelli explain controversial move to Supersport slicks

In a controversial move, Pirelli decided to run both the WorldSSP and WorldSSP300 classes on slick tyres for the first time in the 2020 season.

We expected them to be brought in for the perennially-difficult Phillip Island circuit, but no, they made it all the way to every round in the 600cc class, and even onto the WorldSSP300 class.

Giorgio Barbier, Pirelli’s two-wheel racing boss, explained why although the new slick tyres can offer better race long performance, they have not made a giant improvement in fastest lap times – although as it happened the lap records were broken in every class a day after our conversation at Motorland Aragon.


“The slicks, we forced the change just to bring the WorldSSP series to the more professional level from a tyres point of view, in the various solutions. According with the experience we had in Superbike we decided to make a bigger size of tyre for Supersport as well and so we got the size we usually just got in Australia for all the championship.”

And the rears getting bigger recently and then going slick just as the Covid-19 hiatus came in the season has hardly helped in bike set-up development – and hence single best lap times right away.

“That has determined a change in the front as well and this is something we all have to work a little bit on the bike now to find the right set-up for this,” said Barbier. “But as soon as you found it you could see in the races how fast they are. That is not the problem it is just the matter of having the time back we lost in the springtime.

“Now we are in the summertime there are difficult races, difficult weather usually, but people are working on it. In Barcelona we will bring a new tyre for the Supersport 600 class for the rear, and we will start making the development we lost this year.”

Exactly what will be brought is currently unknown but it may a kind of tyre that Jukes Cluzel has already tried, away from the WorldSSP paddock. And he, like some others, thinks the current rear tyre is not helping single lap times. Not yet anyway.

“The rear tyre, for us, is too big,” said Cluzel. “The first feeling we had when we came onto the slicks was the bike felt so heavy in steering. A lot more - and we needed to change the bike a lot. But even when we did, it gives a lot of slide. I was riding in Circuit Carole, Paris, during this quarantine period and there I used a tyre that was used in the French championship.

“A slick, a 190, everything is the same. Just a little bit softer than the one we have; the SC0. It feels so much better. So much. The bike feels much more light and it was same size tyre. I was one second faster on a circuit with a lap of less than one minute. So imagine… it is a big difference. We gave this information to Pirelli to say, please we need these tyres to make – even for the young guys – life a little bit easier. It is a lot more easy.”

So, maybe that is the development tyre that will be brought to Barcelona, to allow truly faster steps into the slick-shod 600cc class?

It is not only the 600s that have gone slick in 2020, it is also the 300s and that was done to help young riders learn slick race tyres earlier in their careers, but also deal with some issues when they have such a small amount of treaded tyres in each allocation, meaning they have to be used more than once.


“In 300s it was good in order to bring the young riders in front of the tyres that might give them just the performance and not the problem related to the tread on the track,” said Pirelli’s Barbier. “Here at Aragon last year there was a lot of wear in the races due to the tread on the tyres. On slicks you can forget about that and concentrate on the bike. Slicks give you the possibility to start working on the development of the tyres, while when you are limited by the tread pattern, you cannot.”

So, early days yet for such a profound set-up change for everybody in the smaller classes. And, the 300 class also had its lap record broken at Aragon on the new slicks.

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