Vintage Miata claims record for most hairpin curves in 12-hour drive

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This first-generation Mazda MX-5 (Miata) drove through 2,900 hairpin turns in 12 hours on a set of Pirelli Collezione tires | Pirelli photos

Where are the folks from Guinness when you need them? 

We ask that question because the Pirelli Collezione, a line of modern tires for vintage and classic cars, claims to have set a record for negotiating the most hairpin turns in a 12-hour span.

Pirelli says the record run was organized in mid-July (though just now is the news being shared) by Mazda Motors GmbH of Germany and was done with a first-generation Mazda MX-5 (Miata) as part of the celebration of that model’s 30th anniversary. 

A specially prepared Miata, carrying rally-style lights, was driven by race or rally drivers Cyndie Allemann, Jan Spiess, Niki Schelle and Auto Bilt test driver Stefan Novitzki, who each took one-hour stints in the car, which was equipped with Pirelli Collezione P Zero Asimmetrico tires.

At the finish line

“After 12 hours, the team had completed exactly 2,900 hairpin bends, far surpassing the 1,500 required for the record,” Pirelli said, adding that the test was conducted under “the strict supervision” of the Hamburg Record Institute for Germany.

The roadway used was in Austria and features 29 hairpins turns over its 16-mile length. The road also challenges with nearly a mile in elevation change as it leads to the Kaunertal glacier.

“The Mazda MX-5 was equipped with a set of P Zero Asimmetrico Pirelli 205/50ZR15 86W from the Pirelli Collezione range for vintage cars and modern classics,” Pirelli said.

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“This tire, manufactured with racing technology, features exactly the high performance required for the record in terms of strength, durability, grip, steering precision, performance and safety on wet roads,” Jorg Schafer, head of outdoor driving tests and dynamic instrument testing for Pirelli Germany, was quoted. 

“The tread pattern of the P Zero Asimmetrico is the original pattern from the P Zero tire, which has been very successful for more than three decades. This tread pattern was used for rally cars as early as 1986, under a different name, and its design is optimized for high lateral loads.”

However, to provide tires with current technology, “Pirelli engineers use modern construction processes and compounds that are currently used in ultra-high-performance tires to withstand the extreme loads during cornering,” the company said.

As part of the preparation for the record run, engineers programmed the road profile of the Kaunertal Gletscherstraße (Glacer Road) onto computer software for an 18-hour digital test that included loading wheels to 150 percent of their “maximum” capacity, Pirelli added.

 

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I have a second gen Miata, but doubt it could manage 1600 miles in 12 hours, despite its vastly superior horsepower, and my astounding driving skills. Are you sure your math is correct? If so, my apologies for doubting you, and the Miata.

    • Looks like an average speed of 134-135 mph. A race prepped first gen might do this- but. Hairpins demand hard brake then slingshot acceleration. I’ve got a built ’04 GTO (408ci LS1, cam, aftermarket computer/fuel pumps/injection system/brakes/6spd/Centerforce twin disc clutch) and I couldn’t do this.
      Of course, I will be wrestling 4000 pounds; maybe the Mazda cats did it, but I diddled the math six ways from Sunday and can’t see how. Are first gens this fast?

    • Yeah something’s way off. In stock form first gens can’t even manage 134mph on a straight, it takes days just to get over 120. And the corners on that road are likely 30mph corners so… Would need to run like 200mph on the straights LOL

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