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Pirelli gets back to work together with the teams and riders for the 2015 seasonThe top-level motorcycle racing season is back. The eni FIM World Superbike Championship is back â€“ this year in its 28th edition â€“ and once again Pirelli will be the Official Sole Supplier of tyres for all categories. The Italian tyre manufacturer, after winning the Dorna and International Motorcycling Federation contract last September, will for the twelfth year in a row (and through 2018) be working alongside all the teams and riders to accompany them through a season which will doubtless once again provide excitement and entertainment for all two-wheel enthusiasts who will be watching with bated breath down to the last turn, cheering on their heroes.
Phillip Island circuit, located in southern Australia on the Island of the same name, 150 kilometres south of Melbourne, in Victoria. The first round of the season will be held from 20 to 22 February, but the teams will actually already be on the track with Pirelli on Monday and Tuesday for the usual official tests that precede the beginning of the season. Like every round, Pirelli will be bringing various front and rear solutions for the Superbike and Supersport riders. For Phillip Island there will be several development solutions developed specifically for this circuit which notoriously is one of the most demanding track on an international level for tyre manufacturers.
The Phillip Island track is relatively dated, built in 1956, but it has an exciting layout which alternates fast and sweeping curves, broken up by just two chicanes where overtaking is easy, and the tyres are really pushed to the limit. The longest straight stretch is a downhill in front of the pit lane where some of the highest top speeds of any circuit on the calendar are reached.
Two years ago, in December 2012, the track was completely resurfaced, 14 years after the previous resurfacing. As you would expect, the new asphalt made the track much more abrasive, but at the same time it significantly increased grip.
At Phillip Island the tyres are subjected to constant thermal-mechanical stress, especially on the left side because of the track layout, and overheating generally occurs in one area of the tyre, but it is simultaneously at maximum lean angle and this generates various forces with torsion and very strong diagonal strain. Therefore, Phillip Island is a track that can simultaneously generate constant mechanical and thermal stress for the tyres.
One of the best known and most feared parts of the track for tyre suppliers and riders is the Southern Loop sweeper. This is the longest of all the turns in the eni FIM World Superbike Championship with a medium-wide radius that forces the bikes into a full throttle, fixed lean trajectory for a very long time.
This means that the tyres are required to work under difficult conditions for a long time with mechanical stress localised on a small strip of tread that undergoes rapid temperature increase, causing a loss of grip. In turn, because of the friction between the tread and the track surface, this causes a further increase in temperature with consequent wear. So, no matter what the weather conditions are at Phillip Island there is a high temperature increase which can potentially cause thermal deterioration of the blend, or the phenomenon better known as blistering, which can be mitigated only by the rider's skill and a detailed fine tuning of the electronics. On top of this, the high temperatures which are the norm for this time of year on the island must be taken into consideration. Obviously, this further contributes to the deterioration described above.
Also, if on one hand the new asphalt provides good grip which reduces slipping, on the other it is decidedly aggressive with a high level of abrasion, meaning that greater rear-tyre wear must also be carefully considered. In any case, this year too, Pirelli has developed several solutions which aim to allow the riders to take on the races and combat the many pitfalls of the Australian track.
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