Pirelli has announced that its new gravel tyre - the 'Scorpion', has been approved by the FIA for use in 2008.
This tyre has been developed during several test sessions carried out all over Europe, using a Peugeot 307 WRC car prepared by Bozian Racing and piloted by Italian rally champion Paolo Andreucci.
The gravel tyre has been called 'Scorpion' to 'underline the link between rally tyres and the Pirelli Scorpion road tyres fitted to off-road vehicles and SUVs'.
"The new WRC gravel tyre from Pirelli is an innovative product that is both robust and environmentally friendly," explained a statement from the Italian tyre manufacturer.
"The 2008 FIA WRC regulations state that anti-deflation mousse cannot be used; so this year's gravel tyre has been considerably strengthened in order to resist cuts, abrasions and punctures from sharp rocks, potholes, and other such obstacles.
"As was the case for the asphalt WRC rubber, the new gravel tyre has been checked by the FIA and the green light has now been given for production of the all-new gravel rally covers to begin."
What follows is some technical details relating to the Pirelli Scorpion gravel tyres:
Gravel WRC tyre - technical notes:
The design has been born out of Pirelli's many years of experience of designing gravel rally tyres. Particular attention has been paid to making the new tyres as adaptable as possible, as they need to perform strongly on hard and compact gravel as well as on mud and loose gravel.
Following several comparison tests an asymmetric and directional design has been chosen, in order to maximise grip under acceleration and braking – as well as providing good lateral grip.
The 2008 regulations state that it will not be possible to introduce cuts or modifications to the Pirelli Scorpion World Rally Championship tyres. This means that the design has been planned from the very beginning to satisfy a very wide and extreme range of requirements.
The depth of the tread pattern has been increased in order to make the tyre last longer, and the diagonal tread blocks have been redesigned. The angle of them now varies from the external part of the tyre shoulder to the internal part, in order to provide a more progressive response through corners.