I’ve been using the Pirelli Rosso Corsa tyres on my track bike for the past year, and I highly rate them compared to other tyres that I’ve tried on track; including the Michelin 2CTs and Michelin Pilot Power 3s.
However I’ve been wanting to try the Pirelli Supercorsas on track for a while and the perfect opportunity presented itself in a four day track event at Cartagena in Spain in February.
My main concern with the Supercorsas was that a new set wouldn’t last four days on an abrasive circuit like Cartagena. After speaking with other riders who used the same tyres either racing or on track, it became apparent that while the front would last four days the rear might not.
Since my front Rosso Corsa was pretty much shot after more than 12 track days, I replaced it with a new Supercorsa SC1 prior to leaving for Spain. My rear Rosso Corsa still had plenty of life left in it, so I decided to leave that on and use that for the first two days on track before switching to the Superorsa rear later.
This track day was my first in over four (winter) months and so my first few sessions at Cartagena were as much about getting used to being back on a bike at an unfamiliar track as they were about testing a new tyre. Initially I didn’t notice much difference between the Rosso Corsa front and the Supercorsa – probably as a result of a my slower pace the first day. However as I started to up the pace on day two, I began to appreciate just how much grip and feedback the front Supercorsa provided. This front tyre gives incredible confidence because it sticks to the track like glue. It was brilliant under heavy braking, trail braking and when lent over at high lean angles. It just “digs” in to the corner and corners like the it’s on rails.
I was also amazed at how well the Supercorsa front worked with the Rosso Corsa rear. At my pace, I didn’t ever get the feeling that the front was being let down by the rear – this makes sense because the Rosso Corsa and Supercorsa rear both share a lack of tread pattern and the same rubber compound on their shoulders.
While I could have quite happily continued riding with this tyre combination, I decided to swith to the Supercorsa rear for the last two days just to see what difference it would make. My first session on the new Supercorsa rear was not great. While the tyre gave good grip, it also “moved” around a lot more than the Rosso Corsa – possibly because the Rosso Corsa has a stiffer carcass. I checked my tyre pressures on return to the pits and they were fine. For the Supercorsas, I was running 31 hot on the front and 27 hot on the rear (both measured with tyre warmers on). In contrast, I had been using 28 hot for the rear Rosso Corsa.
Over the next few sessions, I started to get used to the feel of the rear tyre and began to trust it more and more, and stopped noticing any rear movement. By the end of the day, I was used to the way that the tyre felt and was amazed at the grip levels of both Supercorsa tyres through the corners. I actually got my fastest lap time on the first session on the new Supercorsa rear despite my not trusting it 100% compared to the Rosso Corsa!
There is no doubt that the Supercorsas are the best track tyre that I have tried so far. The combination of SC1 on the front and SC2 on the rear gave amazing grip levels and confidence on the dry track. It’s worth remembering that the Supercorsas are effectively a cut slick race tyre with a road legal tread pattern.
The downsides to the Supercorsas are their cost and short life. Unlike the Rosso Corsas, the Supercorsas are subject to higher wear rates and heat cycles. My front has now done the equivalent of four track days and the rear two. I think I can probably get 1-2 more days out of the front and probably another day or two from the rear. However I will have to take a spare front and rear with me to the track in case they go “off” during the day.
The Supercorsas are a better track tyre than the Rosso Corsa. However you are not losing much in using the Rosso Corsa as they provide amazing levels of grip and feedback. When talking with tyre services at the track, they really rated the Rosso Corsa and pointed out that in a race series with it as the controlled tyre, riders were only lapping a second slower than the Supercorsa.
I also think that the Supercorsa SC1 front and Rosso Corsa rear are a brilliant tyre match, and that may be a tyre combination that I try again in the future as I improve my speed and lap times, if only to avoid having to replace the rear tyre so frequently.
Will I use Supercorsas again? Probably yes, although the cost factor will be a big decider in whether to try an alternate track tyre like the Metzeler Racetecs or the Contintenal RaceAttacks. Failing that I’m happy to continue with the Rosso Corsas which I rate really highly too.