The Monza Rally is a stage rally held at the home of the Italian Grand Prix, which traditionally forms an end of season celebration that has frequently attracted some of the biggest names in motorsport.
Pirelli has always figured prominently in the action, but this year sees the most star-studded line-up yet for the Italian tyres, which have met with plenty of success on the World Rally Championship in 2014 as well.
Following his spectacular return to WRC action in Spain last month, Ken Block will be back on Pirelli tyres for the American’s Monza debut, driving his distinctive Ford Fiesta RS WRC. The technical and precise nature of the all-asphalt Monza stages should be well suited to the ‘Gymkhana’ king, who is accustomed to finding the limits of grip for his world-renowned videos, which regularly attract more than 50 million viewers on YouTube.
Block said: “I’m really looking forward to coming to Monza, which is so close to the home of Pirelli. It’s funny: I’ve had an association with Pirelli for a long time but never actually been there before, so this will be a new experience for me. I always enjoy going to Italy because it’s a great country with some fantastic fans and amazing food, so it’s going to be a really good experience. Spain was actually my first time back in a World Rally Car on asphalt for three years, so it’s not realistic to expect too much, but of course I still love stage rallying and I’ll be giving it my best shot!”
Completing Pirelli’s international line-up is Robert Kubica, who last drove a Formula One car on Pirelli tyres at the start of 2011, before battling back from serious injury to compete on the World Rally Championship. Kubica will be reunited with the Pirelli-equipped Ford Fiesta RS WRC that he used to win the Rally del Casentino earlier this year.
Joining them will be eight-time Italian Rally Champion Paolo Andreucci in his title-winning Peugeot 208 T16, showcasing the abilities that gave him four national victories this year with a brand new car.
All of the drivers will use Pirelli’s latest P Zero rally tyres at Monza, made in the same ‘factory of champions’ that produces Pirelli’s Formula One rubber, with a number of design and manufacturing processes in common. In particular, the compound is designed to warm up rapidly even in the cool conditions expected at Monza in November, providing the maximum grip and driveability on stages of varying lengths: from nine to 44 kilometres.
There is a historic section of the Monza Rally as well, featuring legendary rally cars such as the Lancia 037 and Delta S4. They will use Pirelli’s P7 Corsa Classic: a traditional-looking tyre that is packed with modern technology, making these extremely powerful cars more driveable in any surface conditions.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “We’re delighted to welcome Ken, Robert, Paolo and all the drivers who use our tyres to Monza, in what has become something of a tradition for us in recent years. We’re obviously well-known for our involvement in Formula One, but we also have a long history in rallying, so this is in many ways the perfect event for us: rallying meets the race track! What the two sports have in common is the need for versatile but high technology tyres that can help to stage a real show. I’m sure this is what we’re going to see over the weekend, thanks also to the amazing personalities who have agreed to join us.”
The Monza Rally gets underway on Friday 28 November and finishes on Sunday 30 November, after nine demanding special stages – including the 44-kilometre ‘Maxi Grand Prix’ stage – that use every area of the circuit grounds.