On the occasion of the Pirelli Emilia-Romagna round at Misano, Italy, Round 5 of the 2023 season, Pirelli will celebrate 20 years as sole tire supplier for all the classes of the FIM Superbike World Championship.
This successful partnership between Pirelli and the top two-wheel production-based championship began in 2004 and to date has no equal in terms of duration within international motorsport. It also represents the first example of control tire in the history of top motorsport competitions, later adopted by many other championships.
In approaching this championship, Pirelli has decided to respect its basic philosophy, i.e. the very strong and direct link with production-based motorcycles and products. This is why the tire range is not made up of prototypes but of standard production products that can be purchased by all motorcyclists on the market. And from this choice, the Italian tire company has made a strong point and a corporate strategy that it wanted to summarize in the now historic motto, “We sell what we race, we race what we sell,” to indicate precisely how the same tires used by professional riders are also on sale on the market — in other words, a direct transfer of technology from the track to the road.
It has been 20 years of technological innovation. Pirelli was the first to introduce colors to distinguish the compounds by applying colored labels on the shoulder of the tires. In 2013, once more the first company in history to do so, Pirelli abandoned 16.5-inch tires in motorcycle competitions in favor of the new 17-inch tires, a size more widespread on the road among motorcyclists. Five years later, in 2018, there was the transition to larger sizes, 125/70 front and 200/65 rear. More recently, Pirelli has introduced new solutions in very soft compounds, such as the rear SCX and SCQ capable of offering riders even higher performance and, most recently, also a new soft SC0 solution at the front. All innovations that over the years have set new standards not only in the racing field but also on the wider market.
The DIABLO Superbike and DIABLO Supercorsa tires, developed by Pirelli for the classes of the production-based championship, boast unique achievements after 20 years of racing: in the World Championship they have been used successfully by 1,438 riders, and they have competed in 1,105 races for a total of 18,891 laps and 2.9 million race kilometers, equal to almost eight times the distance that separates the Earth from the moon. Tires that have been developed with the collaboration of some of the greatest motorcycling champions who have made the history of WorldSBK. Among these, 11 have won at least one world title in the premier class with Pirelli: James Toseland, Troy Corser, Troy Bayliss, Ben Spies, Max Biaggi, Carlos Checa, Tom Sykes, Sylvain Guintoli, Jonathan Rea, Toprak Razgatlioglu and reigning world champion Álvaro Bautista.
Giorgio Barbier, motorcycle racing director for Pirelli, said, “Motorsport is part of our DNA, and with the Superbike World Championship we have managed to combine the world of the track with that of the road: Those who choose a Pirelli motorcycle tire must know that they are not simply buying a round black tire but the result of 20 years of experience and constant technological development that Pirelli has carried forward in this championship thanks also to the collaboration of Dorna, the FIM, the riders and the teams. We are therefore proud to be able to celebrate this important milestone, but while we retrace with our memories what we have done in the past, our gaze is already projected towards the future, towards new challenges, to write new chapters of this beautiful story.”