Following the company's long-held policy of sustaining young talent, Pirelli will run its Champions Cup at the next week's Bologna Motor Show to pit the most exciting up-and-coming youngsters against each other.
Over the past two years, the competition has featured stars on both two and four wheels and from the worlds of racing and rallying but, this time, the entry list will exclusively showcase the champions of the future.
Given the Italian firm's input into rallying, and into developing young talent in that arena, the off-road discipline will provide the bulk of the line-up, with Pirelli Star Driver Martin Semerad being joined by three other drivers under the age of 27 from the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region, while 22-year old Finnish driver Jarkko Nikara - who, like Semerad, will take part in six rounds of next year's WRC with the support of the FIA and Pirelli - also on show at the 33rd Bologna Motor Show.
The quintet will be joined by rising Italian rally star Stefano Albertini, who won the CSAI SuperCorso title, and some of the brightest young stars from Italian and European motorsport, including 15-year old Edoardo Liberati, the winner of the Italian Motorsport Federation SuperCorso award for circuit racing, and two 17-year olds - Giovanni Nappi and Andrea Cecchellero - who previously showed their class though the same initiative. The line-up will be completed by motorcycle prospects Michel Fabrizio and Massimo Roccoli.
The eight drivers taking part will also have some extremely competitive machinery at their disposal, with out-going WTCC Independents' Cup champion Stefano d'Aste making available the Lotus Exige that was the star of the Lotus Cup this year, along with Renault Clio R3s prepared by Munaretto.
“This year's Pirelli Champions Cup is entirely geared towards young drivers, in order to give them a chance to show off their talents at the end of the year in an important arena such as the Bologna Motor Show," Pirelli rally manager Mario Isola confirmed.
"We've also chosen some of the latest generation cars for them to drive, which are equally competitive but very different. We have the front-wheel drive Clio and the rear-wheel drive Exige, which require quite distinct driving styles. The eight youngsters competing on the Pirelli Champions Cup will use our commercially-available rally tyres that were used recently by Dindo Capello and Gigi Pirollo to win the Monza Rally Show in a Ford Focus WRC.”