Just after hours after it emerged that Michelin was interested in supplying tyres for the World Rally Championship, Pirelli has announced it is walking away from the sport.
The Italian tyres manufacturer will now be concentrating on the world of Formula One, after winning the battle to take over from Bridgestone as the exclusive tyre supplier, according to AUTOSPORT.
Despite its return to F1, Pirelli had been expected to remain in the WRC, which it had supplied with a control tyre for the last three years.
However, AUTOSPORT claims that it did not submit an application to the FIA to supply tyres to the WRC in 2011 before last night’s deadline, citing the lack of rule stability in the series as the reason for its withdrawal.
But now it has taken the decision to focus its attention fully on F1.
Paul Hembery, motorsport director for Pirelli, said: “The first point to make here is the way the rules have been changed. There have been three significant rule changes in the last nine months – and, possibly, an even more significant change coming in 2012.
“In December we tendered for another three-year deal to supply tyres for WRC. Once again, our tender was set out to provide finance for continued investment in the FIA, in the sport’s promoter and, of course in the Pirelli Star Driver scheme which we financed from its inception in 2008.
“That three-year tender was rejected and we were offered a one-year extension on the same terms as the current three-year deal, then a one-year deal on the new tender conditions – that was something we felt was unacceptable.
“And now we come to the current regulation, which we feel is neither a control tyre scenario or competition. And, based on the experiences we have had in GT racing, where regulations similar to those in the WRC were open to interpretation and were flexible if a [tyre] manufacturer was having some difficulties. We explained those issues [to the FIA] and we have had no significant response. These rules leave a lot to be desired and we have communicated these limitations to the FIA.
“Overall it just feels that we were not wanted in the sport despite delivering run-flat technology, a Tarmac-specification tyre [which is] fully EEC road homologated, an offer to bring self-sealing, puncture-resistance to the sport, aromatic oil-free tyres and, of course, a level puncture resistance that was unheard of before 2008. We leave the sport with our head held high, having supported the series through some of the most difficult economic conditions ever experienced.”
Alex Kapadia, Operations Team