ERJ staff report (TP)
Monte Carlo, Monaco − Pirelli made its return to the World Rally Championship after a year’s absence at the Monte Carlo Rally last weekend, fighting at the forefront of a competitive WRC2 field, reported Paddock Talk.
The Italian firm was sole supplier to the World Rally Championship between 2008 and 2010 and then supplied the WRC Academy until 2012. For the company’s return, Pirelli has proposed a range of rally tires for customers that have been created entirely from scratch, enabling privateers to fight at the front of their classes.
One of the highlights of the weekend was a remarkable third-fastest time overall with a Super 2000 car on only the third stage, thanks to Swiss driver Olivier Burri.
The normally-aspirated Super 2000 cars have a considerable performance deficit to the headlining turbocharged WRC class, yet Burri’s Pirelli tire choice enabled him to set a time that outclassed all the regular WRC stars such as reigning World Champion Sebastien Ogier.
Pirelli’s return this year is aimed at private entries, complying with the latest tire regulations that impose strict limits on the quantities and tread pattern design of the tires available.
Pirelli took eight class victories out of the 14 stages that were run competitively, setting a number of top-ten times overall without even having a car in the WRC class.
Monte Carlo is one of the toughest tests for drivers and tires all season, with the outcome revolving heavily around the tire choices on each stage. Conditions can range from dry asphalt to slush to heavy snow: with all three much in evidence this year for Pirelli’s return.
The Italian firm equipped five runners in the WRC2 category; while in the Production class, there were two Pirelli runners.
The tires available were the Sottozero and RK, in the softest compound available (RK9). The Sottozero comes in two versions: studded, for snow and ice, and without studs – like a normal winter road car tire. The RK was used for dry and damp asphalt, with the Sottozero used for snow and ice: typical of the conditions seen on the famous Turini stages that conclude the rally.
Pirelli’s senior tire engineer, Matteo Braga, said: “Our intention in returning to the World Rally Championship this year was to provide our customers with competitive tires that will enable them to fight for top positions. Even on our first event, the new tires showed plenty of potential, as our class positions and stage times show.”
“The conditions, as always, were extremely difficult this year meaning that not just pure speed but also the adaptability of the drivers and the tires to the changing conditions held the keys to success,” he added.
Pirelli’s next World Rally Championship outing will be Rally Sweden from 5-8 February, when the new Sottozero Ice will be seen for the first time.
This is an external link and should open in a new window. If the window does not appear, please check your pop-up blocking software. ERJ is not responsible for the content of external sites.
Full story from Paddock Talk