COFFS HARBOUR, Australia—Pirelli Tyre S.p.A. will not compete in the World Rally Championship (WRC) in 2017, choosing instead to focus its motorsport resources on the approximately 300 other racing series it supplies worldwide.
Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery disclosed Pirelli's decision during Rally Australia, the 2016 WRC season finale.
Pirelli re-entered WRC competition in 2014 after a three-year-hiatus following the company's decision to end its WRC supply deal in 2010 after it was granted the exclusive tire supply contract for Formula 1.
"Rallying is a form of motorsport that we are very passionate about and will continue to support enthusiastically," Mr. Hembery said. "However, we're not homologating a WRC tire for next season in order to concentrate on the 300 or so other championships that we supply worldwide."
Pirelli will, however, continue to support rallying through a supply contract for the FIA European Junior Championship, Mr. Hembery said, "which fits in perfectly with our philosophy of promoting the careers of young drivers by giving them opportunities to compete on a wider platform."
Pirelli is the spec tire supplier for the ERC Junior Championship, which is limited to drivers aged 17 and up who have not competed previously in a "P1" class rally. It also states on its motorsports website it supports more than 25 national championships in 21 countries.
"Most young rally drivers begin their careers on their national championships," Mr. Hembery continued, "so we will also be ensuring that we continue to supply our latest products to these championships all over the world, reinforcing our global presence in the sport into the future."
Pirelli has taken on a number of new racing championships, putting pressure on its ability to supply them all.
Among the new supply contracts for 2017 will be:
Trans Am Championship in North America;
Electric GT Championship in Europe;
China GT Championship;
Blancpain GT Series Asia; and
The one-off Macau Grand Prix, both for the FIA Formula 3 World Cup and the FIA GT World Cup races.
Pirelli estimates it supplied more than 25,000 racing tires on a single weekend in late July 2016 to the series it supports globally. Pirelli recently disclosed it's planning to install capacity for competition tires at its plant in Slatina, Romania, giving it two manufacturing sources for race tires.