MILAN, Italy-Born and bred on one of the toughest proving grounds there is-the race track-Pirelli Group's new ultra-low-profile, high performance P7000 tire makes no bones about its roots. Frequent references such as: ``. . . handles almost like a racing slick,'' and ``. . . designed with the same criteria as a racing tire,'' creep into the tire maker's descrip-tions of the tire, which rounds out its P-product portfolio with a full range of sizes meant to cover 85-percent of the ultra high performance market.
Pirelli Armstrong Tire Corp. appropriately debuted the product to North American trade journalists at Monza, the race track outside Milan that is synonymous with motor-racing.
PATC promised the P7000 offers ``demanding drivers'' and the ``tuners'' market ``the same control capability on the road that the track demands of a competition tire: control of materials under thermal stress; control of stresses on the structure; control of the road even on wet surfaces.''
Jointly developed by Pirelli engineers in Breuberg, Germany, and Milan, the P7000 ``summer'' tire follows by a year its sibling, the all-season P7000 Supersport.
The new version-boasting better handling and control characteristics in the wet and lower rolling resistance-incorporates a rayon casing, Kevlar reinforcing for higher stiffness at a lower weight, and materials specialized for constant performance at high temperatures and speeds. That's ``the same criteria as a racing tire,'' the company stated during the presentation at the Monza track.
Through the use of silica in the tread, PATC said the tire's traction is ``immediate and continuous''-even under the critical conditions of wet asphalt at low temperatures.
Based on what the company called an exclusive computerized mathematical simulation model, the P7000 was crafted with a dual effect directional tread pattern to provide optimal patterns for dry and wet surfaces. It features a regular succession of wide open radial grooves with a new design of inclined circumferential grooves-so-called ``sabre cuts''-superimposed over the first series at a transverse angle.
The radial grooves, PATC explained, reduce aquaplaning at medium-to-low speeds when the road surface is covered by a relatively deep layer of water.
Use of Pirelli's PULSE (Patented Uniform Lateral Stability Element) technology resulted in the elimination of continuous longitudinal shoulder grooves in order to stabilize the lateral movement of the tread blocks when under pressure. That results in the belting below the contact patch being kept perfectly rigid and stable, PATC said, even under the most severe conditions.
While the company's older P6000 tire line is aimed at ``self-gratifiers,'' Franco Carini, PATC's vice president marketing, said the P7000 is for ``fast trackers''-and not for ``mom and pop tire dealers.''
The P7000 already has been approved by the most advanced car ``tuners,'' PATC said-well-known names in Europe including Carlsson, Hartge, Irmscher, Racing Dynamics, Lorinser, ABT and Fab-to equip models representing the most advanced line between production and racing technologies, derived from BMW, Mercedes, Opel and Volkswagen.
The tire-Z-rated with a ``W'' limitation for speeds up to 168 mph-began selling in Europe and Japan in March, and is due to hit North American shores for sale in dealerships in June.
It will be available in 22 sizes for fitment on 15- to 18-inch rims, with aspect ratios from 35 to 55.