2004 saw a controversial change to a one tyre brand rule introduced to World Superbikes, aimed at trying to increase the competitiveness of the series.
FGSport, the organisers of WSBK, decided that the series needed such a step to stop the special tyre treatment previously being received by some teams - therefore, all riders were forced to use Pirelli tyres in 2004.
"Tyres were being produced for certain riders and certain bikes and that can make a huge difference," commented Pirelli's UK director Carl Bushell, talking exclusively to Crash.net
. "There was talk of two seconds a lap for specially produced tyre's, which obviously gives certain riders and certain teams specific advantages."
Contrary to poplar belief, Pirelli claim that their WSBK
rivals (Michelin and Dunlop) were also asked if they would be interested in the one-make tyre rule contract in 2004.
"Pirelli along with all the other manufacturers were offered the position, and we were successful in gaining the contract," said Bushell. "It's been a huge year for us in terms of exposure of the Pirelli brand."
Another great benefit for the manufacturer has been the ability to close the gap of its slick-tyre's performance on its competitors.
"Our treaded race tyres have won world supersport championships for a number of years. Our slicks are perhaps less well known in terms of performance, and this is an area we want to grow in terms of reputation," he explained. "The ability to develop in a world series as the control tyre in World Superbikes
as well as competing in British Superbikes
is also our aim."
Meanwhile, in the British Superbike championship, Pirelli supplied a privateer team, Jentin racing, with its tyres in 2004.
The team enjoyed a vast amount of success against Dunlop and Michelin with James Ellison regularly finishing in the top ten, allowing an underfunded team a chance to compete, and showing Pirelli's large steps in development.
2005 will again see Pirelli supplying all the tyres for the WSBK
grid, and as Bushell revealed to Crash.net
, the Italian company will also be increasing its involvement in BSB.