In statement, Pirelli denies favoritism after Mercedes tire test row

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Pirelli has released a full statement regarding the secret tire test carried out with Mercedes’ 2013 car, the W04. It reads as follows:

Pirelli, in development testing with teams carried out in 2013, has not favoured any teams and, as always, acted professionally, with transparency and in absolute good faith. The tyres used were not from the current championship but belonged to a range of products still being developed in view of an eventual renewal of the supply contract. Further, none of the tests were carried for the purpose of enhancing specific cars, but only to test tyre solutions for future championships. The use of the car utilized by Mercedes, in particular, was the result of direct communication between FIA and the team itself. Pirelli did not ask in any way that a 2013 car be used: not of Mercedes nor FIA nor the teams which, during the year, were offered the opportunity of participating in tests for the development of tyres for 2014. The tyres that will be tested by the teams in the free practice at the Montreal Grand Prix have never been used by the teams before.  With regard to the new tyres, the problem of delamination has been solved by Pirelli’s technicians exclusively through laboratory testing. Delamination, which only occurred on four occasions and always because of on-track detritus, has never put the drivers’ safety at risk, but does risk harming Pirelli’s image. This is why the company decided to intervene.

With regard to the rules which govern its conduct, the company has always respected the contractual limits which bind it to the FIA, teams and championship’s organizers, and has always respected the principles of sporting loyalty.

Pirelli, however, feels the need to reaffirm the indisputable need to carry out tests for the development of tyres which are adequate and regulated by rules which are clear and shared by all the interested parties. The company confirms its availability, as communicated to the teams many times in the past, to organize tests for the development of tyres for 2014 with all the teams in the championship.

PIRELLI’S ANSWERS TO FIA

With regard to requests for information received from FIA, Pirelli promptly provided the answers needed to clarify what happened at the tests, as far as its own responsibilities went.

DEVELOPMENT TESTS FOR 2014 TYRES WERE OFFERED TO ALL:  NO FAVOURTISM

The tests were conducted in observance of the contract between Pirelli and FIA, which gives the supplier the possibility of carrying out tests for the development of tyres with each team of up to 1,000 kilometres, without specifying the type of car to be used, nor sanctioning the simultaneous presence of all the teams for the running of the tests. In this regard, Pirelli has since 2010 made it clear that it is neither possible nor useful to carry out this type of test with all the teams simultaneously.  In fact, this type of testing aimed at technological development and researching new solutions, involves many tyres of different types which must be tested with a single car at a time. Testing for championship specifications is different, as occurs in winter testing which require the participation of all the teams, so as to find the most satisfying solutions for all the cars in the competition. For this reason, Pirelli insists on the need for winter testing under conditions which are truly representative of the situations which will be met during the championship.

Already in March 2012, Pirelli sent an email to all the teams, Fia and Fom, inviting the teams to indicate their availability for testing for the development of tyres for 2013. Further, the company explained that it was necessary to conduct the tests with the teams’ cars because it did not have a suitable one of its own (Pirelli has the use of an adapted 2010 Renault and, before that, a 2009 Toyota).

The invitation was subsequently repeated in various official contexts and repeated to some teams last March for the development of tyres for 2014.

THE TEST CONDUCTED IN BARCELONA WAS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF TYRES FOR 2014 AND NOT FOR THE MODIFICATION OF 2013 SPECIFICATIONS

This test, as always, carried out with a single compound never used in a championship, regarded structures not in use in the current season and not destined to be used later during the 2013 season. The tyre tests were conducted “in the dark”, which means that the teams had no information on which specifications were being tested or about the goal of the testing; nor did they receive any type of information afterwards.

Further, the tests did not regard delamination in any way, as that problem was dealt with and resolved by Pirelli’s technicians through laboratory tests, with the support of data gathered during the first races of the season.

Pirelli always asked for representative cars, that is, with performances comparable to those of the cars being used in the championship underway, without ever referring to those effectively used in the 2013 races.

The “2013 MERCEDES” At BARCELONA WAS THE SUBJECT OF DISCUSSIONS BETWEEN THE TEAM AND FIA. PIRELLI MADE NO REQUESTS AND HAD NO WAY OF KNOWIING IF RULES WERE BEING VIOLATED

The Barcelona test was conducted in cooperation with Mercedes between May 15 and May 17, 2013. The teams made available one car and two first tier drivers, who alternated at the wheel on different days.

The trials were done with a base compound, not in use this year, and 12 different structures which had never been used in 2013, only one of which with kevlar.

The team did not obtain any advantage with regard to knowledge of the behaviour of the tyres in use in the current championship.

The type of car used during the tests was the subject of direct discussions between Mercedes and FIA, as shown in the exchange of emails between the team and Pirelli. In particular, Mercedes informed Pirelli that its 2011 car could not be used and that it had already contacted Fia regarding the use of the 2013 car. There is no doubt that the questions relating to the vehicle were the exclusive domain of the team and that Pirelli was excluded from these questions (notwithstanding Pirelli’s need, from a technical point of view, to have a representative car in terms of impact on the performance of the tyres).

To confirm that this was an ordinary development test and not aimed at specific interventions, Pirelli made no specific requests about the drivers or about the tye of Mercedes staff that would be present during the tests and had fielded its normal team for development testing.

EXPERIMENTAL TYRES FOR THE CANADA GP NEVER USED BEFORE

The tyres with the new structures in kevlar which will be given to the teams during the free practice at the Montreal Grand Prix will for the first time be track tested, following laboratory development. The new tyres have overcome the problem of delamination. This phenomenon in no manner compromises the drivers’ safety but risks damaging the company’s image. At the Canada tests, the teams will have the opportunity to express their opinions and make observations.

NO CHANGE TO THE “DURATION” OF THE TYRES

Pirelli, ready as it is to make changes at any moment, has made no modifications that effect the duration of the tyres and, consequently, on the number of pit stops during the race because of a lack of unanimity of the part of the teams.

Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”