MIAMI — Pirelli Tire North America and The Trans-Am Race Co. announced a three-year agreement that will see Pirelli named the official tire supplier and presenting sponsor of the Trans-Am Series.
Starting in 2017, Pirelli will supply tires for all classes within the Trans-Am Series presented by Pirelli, including purpose-built P Zero tires for the TA and TA2 classes.
“From the very beginning, Pirelli has gone above and beyond our expectations,” said John Clagett, president of The Trans-Am Race Co. “They took on the challenge of engineering, from the ground up, a tire that fits the needs of TA2, which presents its own unique set of challenges. The work they have done is simply remarkable, and I can say with full confidence that Pirelli has delivered a product that we can proudly present to our competitors. All of Trans Am is looking forward to this new partnership with Pirelli and what the future holds for all parties.”
“Trans Am is one of the biggest names in America, with close, affordable and popular racing that showcases thrilling competition,” said Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery. “With our involvement in the Pirelli World Challenge, as well as different one-make series in the USA and the recently-opened P Zero World store in Los Angeles, Pirelli’s links with American auto racing have never been stronger.”
“This new agreement with Trans-Am is part of a wider plan to continue growing the commercial motorsports business in the North American market,” added Pirelli’s North American Vice President of Motorsports, Communications and Prestige, Rafael Navarro. “Our direction was clear from the beginning and we have developed and produced a product that introduces radial technology to all categories, improving performance while maintaining the characteristics fans have come to appreciate from Trans-Am racing.”
The extensive tire development process undertaken by Pirelli to develop a product for the TA2 class spanned six months and the result is a product many TA2 drivers will find familiar. The tires will be offered at the same price as their predecessor but are superior in many ways, as testified to by 2013 and 2014 TA2 Champion Cameron Lawrence, who alongside Mike Skeen, served as a test driver during the process.
“Everyone in the TA2 should be pleased with Pirelli’s work,” said Lawrence. “They’ve done something remarkable — built a radial tire that performs like a bias ply. It is such a better tire, nearly every attribute, the wear, the speed, the consistency, they’ve put so much more in the driver’s hands— the feel is very much the same, you can still slide it through a corner but now you have the grip to accelerate out. I see it as a huge commitment by Pirelli; they have made a massive investment in Trans Am and its future.”
Also involved in the development process was Stevens-Miller Racing, who supplied the TA2 race cars utilized throughout testing.
“Pirelli needs to be given credit for the level of discipline and hard work put into the new TA2 tire,” said Joe Stevens, owner of Stevens-Miller. “With no setup changes, our cars were turning lap times ranging from 1 to 2.5 seconds faster—all while maintaining that characteristic “TA2” look and feel. The best part is we do not anticipate the need to make a changes to our setups come next year; a few tweaks to the suspension to address the increased lateral grip is all that will be needed. Even the rain tires were far better, dissipating more moisture and producing more traction.”
Pirelli will also debut new TA class tires built to withstand the sheer power of the 875 horsepower grand touring machines that make up Trans Am’s iconic class. 2010 and 2011 TA champion Tony Ave had the opportunity to test both the slicks and rain tires recently at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“Pirelli has successfully created a tire that can be put to use immediately in the TA class,” said Ave. “It’s a very driver friendly tire that is essentially a bolt-on for the current setups on TA class cars, exactly what Trans-Am and Pirelli wanted to create from the onset. In particular, the rain tire is absurdly good. We do a lot of rain tire testing. Racing in the rain is something I pride myself in, and the TA class rain tire is on a whole new level, so good it might eliminate the large advantage rain racers like myself had in the past.”
Trans-Am’s production classes, TA3 and TA4, will sport Pirelli’s iconic P Zero Racing Slick and P Zero Racing Rain tires, also remarkably offered at the same price as their predecessors, a statement of intent on Pirelli’s investment in the Trans-Am Series.
The newly developed TA P Zero tires are currently on display at Pirelli’s SEMA show booth on Claudio Burtin’s No. 7 GoShare.com Chevrolet Corvette C7.