2012 WSBK Monza Weekend Round Up: Pirelli Wets

(Updated below)

Pirelli brought their tyres to Monza, knowing rain was a possibility. The tyres they brought were the best they could make with the science the racing economy can fund. Wet weather tyres need to displace water and allow bikes to grip in the wet and get their power down while allowing them to brake. What they are not designed to do is sustained stretches of immense speed on abrasive dry tarmac. If you watch their video, you get some idea of the punishment Monza gives rubber.

Monza is a unique track and one that punishes tyres in unique ways, as was seen when multiple wet tyres on different bikes were delaminated during Superpole. This wasn't the characteristics of one bike, or an overzealous rider that couldn't handle the tyres, this was a feature of the track and the weather clashing. Three 300kmh sections of track require one sort of tyre and standing water requires another. When riders were telling us that wet tyres would only last three laps on a Superbike, it was clear that if the rain came down, it would be impossible to race.

And the rain came. Four laps into the first Superbike race, the red flags were out. As the teams were arguing and the riders worrying, preparing for the restart, the sky opened on the back straight, drenching the rider-filled Alfa Romeo safety cars as they drove the distance from Ascari to the Parabolica. Pirelli said the tyre couldn't be raced on, the riders said the tyre couldn't be raced on and as the race was cancelled, the rain punished the track, demonstrating that the right decision was made.

The centre section delamination can clearly be seen in this photo by Pippa Morson of Eugene Laverty's qualifying tyre.

Early warnings were given that the Supersport race would be cancelled, even to the point that British Eurosport announced that there was going to be no World Supersport race, confusing a lot of viewers in the UK. Instead, we were treated to a typical Monza race, with a wonderfully typical last corner battle at the Parabolica. We saw hints of what we could look forward to in the Superbike race.

Instead, we got confusion and delays. The race was initially shortened to 17 laps, with two warm-up laps, but at the end of the warm-up, lots of the riders were waving to the organisers, trying to tell them to stop the race. The restart was delayed because of this, reducing the race to 16 laps and adding another warm-up lap. As the grid waited to see if the huge grey cloud would miss them, the crowd grew anxious. Luckily, the race was eventually started and the fans were treated to a show of force from Tom Sykes, but not without seeing Sylvain Guintoli and Michel Fabrizio unable to complete the warm up laps. To make matters worse, the race was cut short at half-distance due to, predictably, the rain returning. While some riders were disappointed, most seemed relieved to be able to walk away without having to risk injury.

After all this drama, Effenbert launched a tirade against the World Superbike organisers, suggesting that they listen more to the likes of Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi than they do other riders, and they appear to have placed the blame at the doorstep of the race organisers instead of, where it should have been, the weather.

And that's what ruined today's racing. Not the tyres, not the organisers and most definitely not the racers concerned about their safety. It was the weather at a track whose unique characteristics make it possibly the most exciting track on the Superbike calendar and equally damn it to be unable to hold wet races at the highest level.

Update: According to Pirelli, my assertion that it was delamination was not correct. It was, in their words, "a meltdown of the compound in the centre." This does not change the conclusions reached here, however.


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This kind of considered analaysis is what makes this website THE go-to place for serious, non-partisan motorcycle racing enthusiasts.

I dont think delamination is the right word here. Shredding or tearing apart might be a good one. Delamination occurs solely when you have multiple layers of a the same material or different material. if my knowledge is right, i dont tires work on layer technology. The rubber is injected in one shot and moulded over the radial plies that are stacked up.

And rubber wear occurs by shredding, i.e. bits and pieces at a time, rather than an entire layer. So shredding or tearing apart might be a better term to describe the tread wear.

Trust me, I've had one do it at 200+ kmh and it is scary. Mine was a treaded front and it peeled apart and left me riding on the casing, with just some stray chunks here and there. Not to mention the monstrous tank slapper.....
The carcas, including the radial belts is layed-up, and then a ring of rubber that will be the tread is laid over that, and they are placed in a mould and oven/autoclave and cooked so that the tread layer bonds with the carcase.
What I saw on the weekend were initial chunks tearing off and then some sections of the tread delaminating.
So the shredding came first and the heat and stress of that shredding would have caused the further delamination.

yes, but i am not sure if they put RUBBER layers. I know the radial plies are laid up in layers, but the rubber is not. You need one solid rubber piece to achieve maximum stiffness since rubber itself is very soft compared to the reinforcement plies. Delamination of plies is possible though, but the tire must endure a hard beating to come to that stage. Looking at the picture i felt it was only the rubber which shredded, and not the plies.

if you mean delamination between the rubber tread and the plies, that i can agree, but just the rubber wearing out is simply shredding. But a delamination between the tread and plie will completely fail the tire within a few revolutions. Just my theory.

Err Delamination is correct modern tyres are not one single lump of compound on top of the carcase, modern tyres have laminates built up upon the carcase, thats why you have wear markers - so that you can see where the race compound ends, also consider that its quite common to have more than one compound across the tyre.....

.... article indeed.

When it comes to ANY type of motorcycle racing its dangerous enough as it is without bad weather / bad tyres / tech problems etc, but to have a combination of many factors rolled into one, then its madness to continue racing.

I don't blame the riders for not wanting to race on these tyres, or ANY tyres for that matter. If the riders feel they cant offer the maximum grip / safety levels then who are we to complain if they boycott ?

The biggest losers of the weekend were the fans who got soaked watching what should have been absolutely barn storming racing but instead cold cold and miserable.

Safety first I say.

Will Pirelli come up with the good's next year ? Who knows. If they could have done it this year I'm sure they would.
Maybe they are over reaching this year? Supplying WSB, BSB & F1 with tyres is going to put strain on any company.
Is it time for the tender to be offered out again?

Just my 2 penny's worth.


I saw the Video before the race, it was posted on facebook. Very interesting video.
It shows they (Pirelli) knew exactly what the problems were.
They had the data, they tried their best
I think its a brave decision when a Tyre company admits it cant provide a safe tyre in certain conditions.
Safety has to be paramount in any decision to race.

Unique track, unique situation. No doubt Pirelli will be on top of the situation for the rest of the season.
great Article Jearle. worthy of Motomatters (kudos)