Pirelli Tires One of those techniques was making “low-profile tires,” another Pirelli innovation. Pirelli was heavily involved in rally racing, where tires are pushed to their limits by powerful cars in long races on varying terrain. But in 1972, one of the biggest names in rally racing, Lancia, introduced the Stratos – a game-changing rally racer that was lighter and more powerful than any car of the day. The only problem with the Stratos? It was too high-performing for tires of the day, and no manufacturer made anything that could put it’s power to the ground reliably. Lancia came to Pirelli with the challenge – the result was the first low-profile, high performance radial tire, the Pirelli P7. You may not have heard of it on the Stratos, but you’ve likely heard of it on another popular car – the revolutionary tire also became the OEM tire for the Porsche Carrera 911 Turbo in 1975.
From then on, low-profile radial tires became the standard tires for all types of high-performance tires, finding their homes as OEM equipment on the world’s most desired cars, like Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Porsches, BMWs, and Mercedes Benzes, with Pirellis often supplying tires for all of them. But even coming from the factory on the world’s great supercars isn’t the highest honor that has been bestowed on Pirelli – that would be becoming the exclusive tire supplier to Formula 1, the world’s premier auto racing series, starting in 2011 and with a contract set to last until 2019. Not to be outdone, Pirelli’s motorcycle tire manufacturing division also won an almost equally prestigious contract – Pirelli is also the sole tire supplier to World Superbike.
Being an exclusive tire supplier to a major racing series is more than just a mark of prestige – on the contrary, having an entire series of ultra high-performance machines managed by legions of factory engineers gives Pirelli access to a staggering amount of data, which they use to re-engineer and perfect their tires for consumer applications. Pirelli famously manufactures the exact same tires for both professional race teams and consumers alike, a distinction they claim proudly, which is why so many privateer race teams and amateurs choose high-performing Pirellis in motorcycle club racing.
Now, Pirelli has sold off all its other manufacturing interests over the last couple of decades in order to focus solely on tire manufacturing, and today is the 5th largest tire manufacturer in the world, producing a staggering 66 million tires a year in 22 factories which are sold in 160 countries, with 36,000 employees on five continents running the show.
Pirelli, valued at $3 billion, is now a multinational conglomerate – but interestingly, has retained its performance heritage, strong tradition, and inherent “Italian-ness” all these years, and as it’s grown as a company, has become more tightly focused on its core product – making great performance tires – instead of spreading its reach other markets. Thus, Pirelli’s motto, “power is nothing without control,” seems as much a guiding principle of their business as it is a description of their products! Click Here…