World Superbike - Pirelli to continue as spec tire supplier until 2018

Pirelli and Dorna/FIM extend contract as the exclusive control tire for the World Superbike Championship to 2018

world superbike pirelli continues control tire contract to 2018

Back in 2003, then-World Superbike CEO Paolo Flammini was growing increasingly tired of complaints from various World Superbike teams that tire situation in the WSBK championship was unfair. Because the top teams in the series often had full sponsorship from the two main tire companies competing in the series at that time (Michelin and Dunlop), the lower-tier teams complained that the sponsored teams usually were given special development tires that gave them a performance advantage, or that they got first pick of the best tires and the rest were left to sort through the scraps. Flammini gave an ultimatum to the tire companies to come up with a plan to sort out the apparent deficit or he would turn to a then-radical solution: make the World Superbike Championship a single-brand spec-tire series. When the tire companies' response was deemed insufficient by Flammini, he went ahead with his plan in 2004 and made the controversial decision to sign up Pirelli as the spec tire supplier for the series.

Pirelli has continued its role as the spec tire supplier for the World Superbike Championship since that time. And with that history now soon to enter its 11th year, new WSBK championship rightsholders Dorna and the FIM announced that the Italian tire manufacturer will continue that role until 2018, as Pirelli apparently "won the tender scheduled from Monday 28 July to Monday 25 August 2014," according to the FIM press release. This makes Pirelli's tenure as the WSBK spec tire supplier the longest-running control tire reign in international motorsports today.

Although the WSBK spec tire move in 2004 was controversial, it created a wave of moves to the spec tire formula by racing series across the world, and soon there were very few series left that weren't running a control tire rule. The British Superbike Championship turned to Pirelli when it changed to the spec tire formula in 2008, and the Canadian Superbike Championship had been using Pirelli for control tires since 2005, although it has switched to Dunlop for 2014. The Australian Superbike Championship has been running a control tire formula since 2008, and the AMA Superbike series has been running it since 2009. And MotoGP's switch to the control tire formula in 2008 with Bridgestone is well known.

While the aspect of a "level playing field" with control tires is fairly sound, the question of whether the control tire formula actually works to save the teams money is subject to debate. Check out some interesting discussions on the matter below: