Pirelli teamed up with four-time World Rally Champion Juha Kankkunen to set a new world record on Tuesday, with the Finn reaching 330.695kph (205.48mph) on ice in a Bentley Continental Supersports.
Kankkunen used spiked Pirelli Sotto Zero winter tires over a 16-kilometer course on the frozen Baltic Sea off Finland, where the ice is 70 centimeters thick. Despite tricky conditions that included snowstorms and cross winds. Kankkunen was successful in his attempt to break his own record, averaging 330kph in both directions; as required by the Guinness Book of Records, which verifies record attempts around the world.
“The tires were really good, because to make them work in the conditions we had was not at all easy,” said Kankkunen, who won his last WRC event on Pirelli tires in Australia in 1999. “First of all, it was so cold. Secondly, the ice is so slippery and bumpy that you have wheel spin all the way to 300kph: it's just a question of playing with the throttle and gears to find the speed.”
The car was standard apart from a welded-in roll cage, rear bumper-mounted parachute and a set of custom Pirelli Sotto Zero winter tires to 275/40R20 specification. The 51-year-old Kankkunen believes that record-breaking attempts such as his run in Finland can help to develop road car tires for everyday drivers in future.
“This is a very different experience to driving on the road, but you have to push to the maximum sometimes to see how things work," he said. "You can see from these tires that the techniques of construction are very good and learn some important lessons about how to build tires in the future to cope with even the most extreme conditions.”
In celebration of Kankkunen's achievement, 100 limited edition Supersports will be made and shown for the first time at next month's Geneva auto show. They will be the most powerful Bentley road cars ever made.