Exclusive interview with Giorgio Barbier, Pirelli Moto Racing Director, WSBK Sepang Round



We had the chance to interview Pirelli Moto Racing Director on 2nd August at WSBK Sepang Round. A little to late but, this is our editor, Eddy (along with Azuan from Roda-Roda), interviewing Giorgio Barbier. Interesting view of Pirelli towards the races in Malaysia condition and climate.

How was the race in Malaysia?
Giorgio Barbier: Last year was the first year for us (race in Sepang) with the high temperature that we meet. We race with the softest rear, the softest in our range. It was good but we see that it suffer a lot from the first to the last lap of the race where the gap was too high from our view to consider.
This year instead, we decide to bring just the new Pirelli SC Zero that could met this kind of circuit which has been improved from the last year tyre. We also brought other two solution, one is now is testing for us to be the new Pirelli SC Zero as we already tested in Europe, US and other track. And the 3rd which is the softest that just created for this track. The condition we met here is different from any other in the world. The temperature is special because of the humidity is something that we didn’t met anywhere else. Europe, Spain and Italy or Imola with 60 degrees on the asphalt but today we see 45 degrees. Last year it was 61 degrees. In Australia we used to meet 61 or 62 degrees. It is not just the matter about the temperature. It also about the circuit layout and humidity.
We just consider the tyre and not about the riders, suspension or supplier of other like braking. We prefer too have a lot of grip and we do have a lot of grip compared to the last year Pirelli SC Zero. We got something is the middle of the softest that we got and the one in used in the qualifying.
This solution is remarkably faster than the standard soft

How much technologies that you learn in racing that you use to make the tyre for the consumer?
Giorgio Barbier: A lot. Consider one season (SuperSports) we bring 60 solutions. These solution bring up to 6-7 range to the consumer to buy. If the solution in the market need to be upgraded, we know what are the target we need to achieve on the season. For instance, this year we want to improve the performance of the SC Zero of the softest rear. We need a bigger range of SC Zero to work because we consider that our final user, our national rider are always worry about the wear of the tyre (reliability). If we just give them the tyre that is fantastic in track condition, smooth surface, they might only be able to use it in a very little time. Not all are expert, not all got suspension technician, engineers for the electronics, for the engine to control the tyre wear, so we have to make the tyre stronger in order to support different condition for different bike stress. To do that, we race last year more or less half a season with a medium and half a season with a soft. Three years ago it takes 3/4 of a season with a medium and the rest with the soft. Now, we run all the season with the soft. This was the target of the rear.

So, you run all the season in soft but still maintains its reliability?
Giorgio Barbier: Yes, because you run in 14 different race track on the world. Different condition, different weather. So, you stress so much on the solution you’ve got. See different condition and how it works. After that we got the World Endurance Championship and we got to race on other race track, LeMans, Oscherlebens, Suzuka as well and the different needs. Night races, race in the morning, race in the evening, race on the hottest part of the day. With bike that are heavy and less brake, less sophisticated machine. You got three different riders with different weight which changes on the season but you cannot change the setup from one rider to another. To design a tyre that are able to cope with all these differences is important. After we test the tyre on WSBK, we bring it to the World Endurance and then to the National Championship (Italy, Germany, Spain, France, UK). In the races, we got to know the how the tyre will work all over the work. Because of you only develop the tyre for this kind of people, you know that you are working with the better rider with their 4-stroke kind of bike, the best engineer of the manufacturer works for you. So you can imagine the sophistication of the bike so high that the tyre is protected by the electronics, suspension and engine management. So, if I take the same tyre and I give to the last guy who race in the championship without engine control, suspension, how can I really be sure that the tyre are developed for any championship level. So, we need to make a strong tyre to perform at any level of riding.
How are the factory in Indonesia?
Giorgio Barbier: We already shipped the first container to different market and we are happy with the results. From the dry handling point of view, we are better than the competitors in the market. We really succeed to have a product of what we are looking for. Then we can further improve and fulfill the need of the market and need of the regional equipment as well and to our final user.

What about the quality of the tyre in Indonesia factory compared to the Italy?
Giorgio Barbier: Interesting question. We are starting the plant in Indonesia to produce the same range as in the Brazil plant. So, we 4 motorcycle plant, one in Germany, which is producing road racing tyres we are using here, we got China factory which are producing radial tyre for sports bike (not racing tyres), then we got two factory in Brazil that are producing off-road tyre, scooter tyres and moped tyres. Now with Indonesia we are producing what is more or less producible in Brazil so the reference level of the quality was for us is Brazil. The quality that we asked is the like the German factory. China is one of the highest quality because the plant is new, the machine is new and the people in China immediately understand what is important to do in a factory and they are very brave. We got fantastic people down there working very seriously, we are making little level of scrap, so China is one of the best factory because they are working very strictly with the new plant. The same we have to do here in Indonesia and the first production tyre that we saw, we succeed as well. The new factory with the right people you can make really difference.

If you were to choose, would you sell more tyres, which means you need to sell it cheaper or make your brand perceived as higher quality but sell less tyres?
Giorgio Barbier: We always have this kind of discussion. I’m quite lucky I think because I have with the company for 45 years and I always take care of the high range of the tyre. I am always been in area you mention; best quality, best reliability and higher price. So, I would say that this is the market I like more. High performance, you talking about cars, motorcycle it is about our life. We started to work on this segment and we are fulfilling this segment since this beginning, so this is our core business. High performance. But in this world now, you cannot be out of few market because the market cannot follow you (top of the line). I mean Malaysia, you sure got Ferrari, CBR1000RR Ducati. So, we need to fulfill the market and that’s why we are making a plant in Indonesia and that is the reason we are making sizes that we are not considering before. If I look of the size of the underbone here and compare the size used in the superbike, we cannot meet. So, we are invested in high performance but bringing it to broader consumer. We cannot give it a price lower that other but we give you more in terms of performance.

Thank you Mr Giorgio!