Launch test: Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II

Pirelli's new fast road and trackday tyre, caned at Kyalami for your reading pleasure

Launch test: Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II

Hopefully you’ve taken a look at our first impressions of how the latest Pirelli sports tyre performed on the road and track, so you’ll already have a pretty good idea as to why we’re so impressed with them. But there is a little more to know about these fantastic new Italian boots.

What’s changed?

The original Diablo Rosso Corsa was launched eight years ago. Motorcycles have moved on a whole heap since then, so Pirelli needed to make a tyre for the latest generation of large capacity sportsbikes and sports nakeds. And so the evolution of the Diablo Rosso Corsa was based thus, and resulted in what, from here on in, we’re going to call the DRC2.

Pirelli called it the ‘Electronic Breakthrough’ during its glitzy presentation. Arguably sparked in 2010 by the BMW S1000RR, horsepower and torque figures have been steadily climbing. So too have the capabilities of the electronics systems to make all this lunacy usable for the average track jockey along with rider aids such as traction control, engine braking and the like.

So the DRC2 needed to be able to cope with this power and torque increase without sacrificing mileage. In fact, Pirelli has actually increased the useful road life and kept the wear characteristics about the same as the old DRC on the track.

The tyre also needed to be ‘linear’ when it comes to rolling in from the crown to the shoulder. In other words, the gradient from bolt upright to on its ear needed to be consistent and matched to the three compounds to help the traction control and cornering ABS systems to work as well as possible.

In a nutshell, the DRC2 has gained four more degrees of lean angle (up from a max of 48° to 52°) and, as a first for Pirelli, the front features two compounds while the rear has three.

These compounds are not only relative to outright grip. The first zone from the centre on the front and the second zone from the centre on the rear are silica-rich — so will warm up quickly and work in wet conditions.

The edge of the shoulders are full carbon black or, in layman’s terms, super-sticky and designed for maximum grip in dry conditions with the ability to cope with the high temperatures generated under track conditions.

Don’t worry about the lack of wet-weather performance on this section of the tyre — if you’re leant over this far in the rain you’re either incredibly talented or it’s already gone horribly wrong…

What are they like on the track?

These tyres are hugely impressive. Being an old fart, I can remember the days when you had to bang in a good few steady laps before you even dared to lean the bike over, or put in several miles of hard acceleration and dragging the front brake to try to get some heat into the carcass on the road.

The DRC2 just seems to work from the off. A couple of corners of the Kyalami track (admittedly a little warmer than Donington at the moment) and the feedback gives you the confidence to press on.

And while I’d like to say I pushed these tyres to the absolute limit, and had the front sliding into turns (though you may be able to read that elsewhere…), I could only get the rear moving about, and even then only when I was being super-aggressive — the front drew me to a line I didn’t fancy trying to cross without a single hint that I was pushing my luck*.

The first turn at Kyalami highlighted just how good it is. Braking from almost flat-stick in sixth gear down to second and trying to hit the apex shouldn’t have been so easy on road tyres. We’ve all had those moments of hanging on to the brake lever and looking at a rapidly-disappearing apex before something tells us it’s time to let the brakes off and have a better stab at hitting it next time.

These tyres give the confidence to hold on that fraction of a second longer with a tad more lean to pull it down for that satisfying feeling of curb rushing beneath your knee. Turn-in is good, too; fast enough but predictable and neutral so they should suit a wide range of bike set-ups and riding styles.

And on the road?

Yep, they just do everything right. On the road ride from Hazyview to Sabie along the R536, the tyres warmed up quickly. You’d imagine this might be easy in Africa but the temperature was only in the mid teens, pretty much typical of a British spring day. Remember them?

The tyres also coped well with the bumpy surface and occasional damp patch. During the photo-shoot on the fast bends just north of Mac Mac Falls on the R532, the pace just about reached knee-down and the DRC2s coped well with the mid-corner bumps.

We didn’t really get to try them properly in the wet, just two-thirds of a lap when the heavens opened towards the end of the final session. All I can say is no-one stacked it, so we’ll need to get a set of these fitted to one of the Visordown long-term test bikes for some guaranteed cold and wet British testing.


There was a fair bit of emphasis that these are the latest tyres for the latest breed of big sports bikes. But don’t let that put you off if you own an older machine — these are such a good all-round sports option that you’d be mad to ignore them, whatever you ride.

Most people won’t ride hard enough on the road to exploit the vast amount of grip and at £278 a set (though we’d expect to see generous discounts from the bigger dealers) they’re very much a premium option. But for the majority of road riders with track day aspirations, these are ideal.

Tyre warmers won’t be necessary in the summer months and they’ll work in pretty much any weather condition so you can ride to and from your track day without the need for a van loaded to the gunnels with stands and warmers.

Not only that, but unlike full-on race rubber, heat cycles aren’t a problem either, so the performance should remain constant until they’re almost down to the canvas — suddenly that big price tag looks like decent value for money.

Available now, priced from £278 for a 120/180 pair

* Author Hoyles is a multiple Thundersport GP1 race winner and ex-National Superstock 1000 racer…