Pirelli has extended its contract to supply the World Superbike and World Supersport classes with tires for another three-year term. The Italian tire manufacturer has been the official tire supplier for the series since World Superbikes went to a single supplier back in 2004, and series organizer Infront Motor Sports has been happy to keep the relationship going, extending the contract until the end of 2015.
The switch to a single supplier was a controversial one at the time, and was one of the reasons for the factories withdrawing their support from the series for a brief period, gradually returning to the series over the past 4 years. But the move has widely been regarded as a successful one, especially given the nature of the Pirellis - much softer and forgiving than the spec Bridgestones, though with significantly shorter tire life - which is widely credited with keeping the racing in the series close and exciting.
However, the contract also highlights the danger of going to a single tire supplier. With so much bike development and expertise being tied in with the spec tire supplier, it is easy for series organizers to find themselves the victim of vendor lock-in. Replacing an existing tire supplier becomes a major project, not just in terms of logistics (a big enough problem on its own), but also in terms of contractual obligations. The contracts surrounding sponsorship, advertising and promotion become incredibly complex, and it is not simply a matter of replacing the name of supplier X with the name of supplier Y. So far, though, there has been little reason to want to replace Pirelli in WSBK.
Below is the press release announcing the contract renewal:
Infront Motor Sports and Pirelli renew tyre supply contract for 2013-2015
Rome (Italy), Wednesday 27 July 2011 – Infront Motor Sports wishes to announce that Pirelli will continue to be the official tyre supplier for the FIM Superbike World Championship for a further three years following the end of the current contract, which as a result will now be extended from 2013 through to the end of 2015.
The agreement, as has been the case since the start of the collaboration between the two companies in 2004, will also include the exclusive supply of tyres for the FIM Supersport World Championship, the Superstock 1000 FIM Cup and the UEM Superstock 600 European Championship.
This additional renewal follows on from the 2010-2011-2012 agreement between the two parties and above all it is testament to the outstanding technical and working relationship that has been established over the years, which has proved to be mutually beneficial to both partners.
The FIM Superbike World Championship has benefitted from stability, quality, competitiveness and fairness, and the one-make supply is fully in line with the philosophy lying behind the four championships, which is to give all competitors the same level playing-field regarding performance, service and costs, while Pirelli's ongoing R&D in collaboration with the world's leading production-based racing championships has led to its constant developments in advanced racing technology being transferred to its products for everyday use on the road. Other important factors in the supply renewal were Pirelli's working methods, tyre performance, reliability and durability and top-level service quality.
It is safe to say that the adoption of an exclusive one-make tyre supply has contributed to the growth and success of the FIM Superbike World Championship over the last eight years, and will continue to do so in the future.
Paolo Flammini, CEO of Infront Motor Sports, declared: "We are delighted to be able to renew the contract with Pirelli until the completion of the 2015 season. Eight years of working together have provided results that go way beyond our highest expectations. Once again we can count on a tyre supplier, whose commitment to the product, service and development is second to none. The presence of 7 manufacturers in World Superbike and full grids in all four classes requires a supplier who can guarantee total excellence from all points of view, and Pirelli have fully respected those guarantees, providing stability to the championships and contributing enormously to their success. We would like to thank them for their commitment and support and look forward once again to a long-term future together."
"Pirelli is very happy to be chosen again as Official Tyre Supplier to World Superbike, the production-based world racing series which remains close to passionate fans. Our Diablo tyres' performance and quality were key elements in helping Infront to again select us," stated Uberto Thun, Managing Director, Motorcycle Division for Pirelli Tyre. "This new contract confirms our dedication to WSBK, to the sport's competitiveness, and to a flexible but continued tyre development guaranteeing the best racing tyres are made available."