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108

Pirelli Test Day

The press had a preview of Pirelli’s ambitious Cinturato Test Day at Brands Hatch a couple of days before the public was admitted. For us, this meant a dreary drive in the Dunlop SP41-shod Morris 1100 along the A25 (surely one of the most trying roads in the country, where one’s speed is that of the slowest commercial, some of which go very slowly up the numerous gradients), under the Dunlop half-tyre into Brands Hatch, to park in a car-park so muddy we just didn’t require cross-country Pirelli 441s to get us out again…

First we watched racing and rally drivers like John Sprinzel, Ken Rudd, Peter Jopp, David Seigle-Morris and Anita Taylor, who have got themselves involved with Pirelli publicity, drive fast round the wet 3-mile circuit in Ford Mustang, A.C. Cobra, Ferrari and Marcos 1800 cars, aided and abetted by Jem Marsh, Mike Salmon and others. Those press men who wished to do so could go as passengers.

Then the Pirelli test-drivers, Bessant, Miller and Barton, rolled and swerved through a series of chicanes, respectively in Triumph 2000, M.G.B. and Vauxhall VX4/90 cars. The press men were then invited to be timed on these tests, first on normal Pirellis then on Cinturatos. Knowing very well that Pirelli make good tyres and that radial-ply covers cling better than normal tyres; we preferred to concentrate on the excellent lunch.

All this was merely a preliminary to the public Cinturato Test Day on March 27th, when all manner of high-speed demonstrations were given and 12 selected Pirelli users from amongst the audience were permitted to travel beside the racing drivers in their Pirelli overalls and to carry out the aforesaid comparative tests. This produced a classic “line” from one who shall be nameless: “Until Cinturatos were fitted to my Jaguar, my wife screamed at anything over 80 m.p.h. Last summer we averaged 102 m.p.h. for the entire length of the M1 Motorway without her realising the speed!”

We confess we should have been much more intrigued if the Cinturatos had been tested against other makes of radial-ply tyres. If, for instance, a number of representative makes and types of cars shod with Pirellis could have been taken round the track after press men had first driven equivalent cars on other makes of tyres. Or if the racing drivers had been asked to drive the exotic cars as fast as possible on timed laps, without being told what tyres were fitted, these being changed for different laps, while they sat blindfold in the driving seats, the make of tyre in use at any given time being conveyed to the pressbox but not to the drivers. We present this idea gratis to the Pirelli P.R.O.s before the 1966 Cinturato Test Day!

* * * * *

In the recent Mobil Economy Run, in which competitors had a free choice of tyres, although these had to conform to sizes fitted as original equipment and be run at conventional pressures, 18 entrants relied on Michelin “X” tyres, to used Dunlop SP41s, four were on Pirelli Cinturatos, four on Goodyear G8s, two used Dunlop C41s, one car was on Dunlop SP Sport tyres and one on U.S. Royals.

It was Michelin who swept the board, the first three in all four classes being on Michelin “X” tyres, while of the three 4th places, one was obtained on these tyres, the remaining 4th places by cars on Dunlop SP41s. So it would seem fair to conclude that Michelin “X” tyres are superior to other makes on the score of economical motoring, while the Economy Run was run at a sufficiently high average speed and embraced quick lappery of Mallory and Oulton Park, to call for a tyre with, in addition, good road-clinging qualities. – W. B.