Features 15 Aug 2013

Industry Insight: Pirelli Moto's Don Nicholas

Pirelli Moto national manager talks about the tyre brand's return to Australian Superbikes.

Pirelli made a high-profile return to the Australian Superbike Championship in 2013, contesting for the Superbike, Supesport and Prostock titles with a wide selection of talented local riders.

CycleOnline.com.au contacted Pirelli Moto national manager Don Nicholas to speak about the Italian brand’s exceptional progress to date, which has included a major amount of on-track success in a short period.

Glenn Allerton has spearheaded Pirelli's return to Australian Superbike racing in 2013. Image: Andrew Gosling/TBG Sport.

Glenn Allerton has spearheaded Pirelli’s return to Australian Superbike racing in 2013. Image: Andrew Gosling/TBG Sport.

How is Pirelli enjoying being back in Australian Superbike racing?

Pirelli through Link International is really enjoying being back at national level racing in Australia. In our first year back at national level with Pirelli we have already broken lap records, had race and round wins in Superbike and Supersport 600 classes.

We’ve seen a large number of riders chose to run Pirelli in the ASBK this year and we are really enjoying working closely with these riders – all of them private riders too – to help them enjoy going racing at the premier level in Australia.

Pirelli as a brand loves to race, it’s in our DNA and the history of the brand. Each weekend is different and we continue to learn and prove ourselves as the season builds on, and we relish the challenge each weekend we go racing.

Tell us about the tyre allocation structure of Pirelli in the ASBK.

We’ve had a saying for few years now and it reflects Pirelli’s philosophy pretty accurately when it comes to racing from club level to national competition in road racing, motocross and more –
we race what we sell, we sell what we race.

What this means is that we treat all racers equally regardless of their budget or who they are. We happily provide the exact same tyre to everyone from the local club racing C-grader on his 2008 R6, that we provide to Aaron Morris on his current R6 racing in the ASBK Supersport 600 class.

Because they both deserve to race on the best when they choose to spend their money on Pirelli race tyres. No ifs or buts, the same tyre. This way we make it fair for all in terms of tyres, so that riders can race with confidence knowing they are on the best Pirelli tyres available for faster lap times and better results.

This same philosophy applies to all of our racing tyres. So Diablo Superbike Slicks, Diablo Supercorsa SC DOT tyres and so on through the range.

At ASBK level we combine this with an investment in technical staff so that any rider can grab one of our Pirelli guys and ask them about our tyres, and we can give them honest information and recommendations to help them enjoy their racing more.

Pirelli supports a wide variety of Superbike privateers throughout the field.

Pirelli supports a wide variety of Superbike privateers throughout the field.

More specifically, what are the tyres that Pirelli riders are competing on in 2013?

For this year we homologated the new 2013 Diablo Superbike slicks for Superbike and Prostock from the beginning of the year. We homologated all of the compounds that Pirelli currently has available so SC1 and SC2 front, and SC0, SC1 and SC2 rears.

These are our tyres for the entire season as it ensures everyone can have these same tyres at all levels, and all year and know they are on the best tyres available. They all come from the same factory in Breuberg, Germany.

These standard production SC tyres are also used at World Superbike level by the way. At Imola Tom Sykes used a standard SC0 rear to win the Superpole and at the same time break the outright lap record for the track on the standard SC0 tyre.

In the races he used the same rear and the riders used the standard SC1 and 2 fronts and the standard SC0 rear. So we can see that this same product available to all Australian riders is truly world class.

For Supersport 600 the Diablo Supercorsa SC 2013 arrived later than Phillip Island WSBK, so we started the season with 2012 and moved to the 2013 at Queensland Raceway. Again, same race-winning tyre available to everyone, same factory and product as World Supersport tyres, so same evolving performance to all Superport 600 riders who choose Pirelli to race anywhere from Barbagello to Hidden Valley to Sydney Motorsport Park, and at any level.

For ASBK we combined it with an entry fee reimbursement program where we reimburse entry fees in Superbike, Prostock and Supersport 600 to encourage more crossover from state to national level of competition and this also appears to be working. But we have much more to do and new tracks to go to, so hopefully we are learning and building as the season goes on.

Aaron Morris is the top Pirelli runner in the Supersport ranks. Image: Andrew Gosling/TBG Sport.

Aaron Morris is the top Pirelli runner in the Supersport ranks. Image: Andrew Gosling/TBG Sport.

Who are some of the riders and teams you guys are working with at this point?

We are very pleased to work with Glenn Allerton and the privately owned Next Gen Motorsports team in the Superbike class along with many other teams and riders and have seen some impressive results so far. It’s the same in Prostock and Supersport 600 with private teams.

Other private riders like Ben Henry at Cube Racing and Ryan Taylor have been loyal supporters of Pirelli over the last few years, so it’s great to go racing with them at ASBK level now, as well as welcoming many new riders to the Pirelli family as we build into the championship.

The health of the sport in Australia is very important to us at Link International and we love to ensure riders get value for money when they go racing. Times are tough in racing at the moment so we look to add value where we can and also to have fun.

That’s why we go racing after all, it’s a passion for many people and we enjoy going racing with them and seeing them achieve successful results.