Pirelli's motorcycle racing director says the increasingly competitive nature of the World Superbike Championship is testament to the intensive development work undertaken by the Italian tyre manufacturer.
Giorgio Barbier is in no doubt the introduction of a control tyre in 2004 has been a huge success, a move that has helped to transform the series into one of the most exciting in the world.
And with the switch to new 17” tyres in 2013, heralding a 'new era' in tyre production, Barbier feels the battle for world honours will be closer than ever as Pirelli continues to strive towards its objective of providing a “level playing field” for competitors and teams.
“The work done by Pirelli in the top class of the world championship has always been fundamental.
“There were, for example, as many as 26 solutions developed and taken to the track during 2012 for the Superbike category alone and the competitiveness and spectacular nature of the championship guaranteed right up to the last race are the most evident proof of the work done,” said Barbier.
“Since 2004, the year in which the championship introduced the control tyre rule, year after year spectators have been able to watch an increasingly exciting and competitive Superbike World Championship, which has attracted an ever-growing number of motorcycle manufacturers.
“In the last season, in fact, right up to the last laps there were four riders from four different manufacturers competing for the title of world champion, which was decided only on the last turns with Max Biaggi and Aprilia beating Tom Sykes and his Kawasaki by only 0.5 points,” he added.
“Pirelli's stated aim has always been to level the playing field for riders and manufacturers so they can compete and fight for the title, and the final general standings of 2012, in which the top five positions were held by riders from five different motorcycle manufacturers, is the most evident proof that the desired result has been achieved.”
Pirelli's new range of 17” rubber this year includes the Diablo Superbike for dry conditions, plus the Diablo Wet and Diablo Rain tyres.
Pirelli's engineers have worked hard to totally redesign the new tyres, which now have new profiles and sidewalls, and increased grip, guaranteeing a 'reduction in movement and improved stability on cornering as well as maintaining performance during the race'.
The range of compounds has also been completely developed from scratch on the basis of the new structure of the 17” tyres.