A more track-oriented version of Pirelli's Diablo Rosso sport tire makes its debut at Assen
During this first half of 2010, it feels like we've been attending just as many press launches for tires as we have for motorcycles. Latest evidence is Pirelli's recent launch of its new Diablo Rosso Corsa tire, held at the historic Assen TT circuit in the Netherlands.
Designed as a more track-ready companion to the company's current Diablo Rosso sport tire, the Diablo Rosso Corsa represents Pirelli's frequent incorporation of technology gleaned from its participation as the official spec tire of the World Superbike/Supersport/Superstock Championships. In fact, Pirelli says the Diablo Rosso Corsa is credited with 25 patents, most of which came from concepts originating from World Superbike tire development.
Replacing the Diablo Corsa III, the Diablo Rosso Corsa features the same basic "Three Zone Compound" design in the rear tire (basically two compounds, a harder center with grippier shoulder portions), but with new compounds in both sections. Special resins and plasticizers along with a new dedicated curing process increase the center compound's wear resistance while also offering a good balance of wet and dry grip, and the shoulders utilize a new 100-percent carbon black compound (with resins from Pirelli's Diablo Supercorsa DOT racing tire) that offers quick warmup and excellent traction even at severe lean angles. The front tire's single compound was also developed from World Superbike rider feedback, offering the best grip without losing tread stiffness necessary for hard braking.
The Diablo Rosso Corsa also features a new "H" shaped bead that promotes a uniform pressure between tire and rim, and the number of wires in the bead have also been reduced, decreasing the tire's overall weight. The steel belt also utilizes a somewhat familiar-sounding "High Performance Single Cord" (HPSC) feature that sports a "road-oriented winding scheme" in the center and a "racing winding scheme" on the shoulders. The Diablo Rosso Corsa's tread pattern is similar to the Diablo Corsa III, but with much less tread siping on the edges (the Diablo Rosso Corsa has half the land/sea ratio as the Corsa III) to put the maximum amount of rubber on the pavement for optimum grip.
As we first saw with the Angel ST sport-touring tire, the Diablo Rosso Corsa continues Pirelli's recent penchant for interesting marketing ploys by featuring a unique personalization tool: special customizable labels that can be designed by the buyer via the "My Diablo Rosso" dedicated section of the official Pirelli website (www.us.pirelli.com/drc), and then applied to the tire sidewall in special areas reserved just for this purpose. Customers can choose from a vast selection of templates, including the preferred circuit layout from any of those on the World Superbike Championship calendar, country flags, and compose a name or unique message in a variety of colors; six labels and a tube of special glue (cost is €5.00, about $6.45) are then mailed to the customer after ordering.
The Circuit van Drenthe's numerous ultra-high-speed turns would definitely expose any weaknesses in a tire (especially one that is basically still intended as a street tire), so it seemed like Pirelli was sticking its neck out with this press launch—but the company need not have worried. While the Diablo Rosso was a slight improvement over the standard Diablo, the Diablo Rosso Corsa has major advantages over the Diablo Rosso.
Pirelli seemed pretty confident in the quick warm-up characteristics of the Diablo Rosso Corsa; the fleet of sportbikes Pirelli had waiting in pit lane for the journalists did not have any tire warmers, despite ambient temperatures in the low 60s. Turns out there was no reason to worry, as there was none of the disconcerting "riding on marbles" feeling on the first lap that you often get with cold tires on a cold morning. While you obviously couldn't go full-bore on the first lap, it only took a few corners before you could begin exploring some lean angle, and the tires were fully up to temp by the end of the second lap (and this was with very high tire pressures—some bikes were running 48 psi rear and 42 psi front—in the first couple of sessions before we lowered them, as Pirelli reps started off with standard "manufacturer recommendations" that were way too high for track use).
Edge grip from the Diablo Rosso Corsas was much better than the standard Diablo Rosso, with much better feedback and a smoother ride over bumps. Even with a Euro-spec Honda CBR1000RR, it took a concerted effort to get the tire to spin, and traction maintained a steady level for numerous sessions (we weren't able to see exactly how long the traction levels would last, as Pirelli reps changed the tires halfway through the day). Overall stability on the triple-digit curves of Assen was excellent, with no wallowing and very little tread squirm while hard on the brakes. And to top it all off, the Diablo Rosso Corsas steer much quicker than the standard Diablo Rosso, which we thought was a little on truckish side when it came to turn-in response.
The Diablo Rosso Corsa is only available in a 120/70ZR-17 front (MSRP: $205.00), with the rears available in 160/60ZR-17 ($249.00), 180/55ZR-17 ($258.00), 190/50ZR-17 ($310.00), and 190/55ZR-17 ($326.00). For more information, log onto www.us.pirelli.com.