Pirelli has confirmed that its 2016 tires and the new ultra-soft compound will make their on-track debut on December 1 at the Yas Marina Circuit following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
In previous years, Pirelli has traditionally made use of the end-of-season test in Abu Dhabi to trial its Formula 1 tire compound designs for the forthcoming year with the teams.
After striking an agreement with the FIA World Council, Pirelli has confirmed that a one-day test will take place in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of next month in a bid to aid the development of the new tire construction for 2016.
Running will focus on slick tire development over a 12-hour period. All ten teams have been requested to field one car using a race or reserve driver, but participation is voluntary. Pirelli will dictate the test programme for each team.
Pirelli also confirmed that this test will see the on-track debut of its new compound, the ultra-soft, which is due to become the fifth choice for 2016 as part of a shake-up of tire rules.
With five compounds on offer – ultra-soft, super-soft, soft, medium, hard – Pirelli will allocate three for each grand prix weekend. Teams will then pick two compounds to use over the weekend, giving them more responsibility for tire calls and creating more variety in race strategy.
The ultra-soft tire will feature purple markings after winning an online survey conducted by Pirelli, gaining 70% of votes.
Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.
There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.
Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.
Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.
By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.
With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.
This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.
Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.
Two privateers have started the season on a high note.
Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.
The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.
Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.
In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.