by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 16
“T HINGS have gone better than we were expecting,” says Mario Isola, Pirelli’s rally tyre manager. “We were worried about what problems might crop up. The product seems to be quite good, the teams are saying they are happy with the service and I think at this point this is as good as we could expect.” The season had started off in the most difficult way possible. The first three rallies of 2008 (Monte Carlo, Sweden and Mexico) all demanded different tyre designs, and even different wheel sizes. And that was just for starters. Whereas normally each rally demands just one tyre design, the special and changeable conditions of Monte Carlo demanded three. Furthermore, Pirelli was obliged to deliver tyres not just to the rally base at Valence, but also during the event to the remote service park as well. All in all, the new control tyre supplier had to deliver, transport and fit about 4500 tyres for that first event. Next up was Sweden, a peculiar event given that it was a winter rally without much snow and ice. And from the sludge and cold of Sweden came the traditionally tough round in Mexico. An induction in fire for sure, but despite the difficult start, hardly anything went wrong for Pirelli. “I do not want to say nothing [ went wrong], but we are in ongoing discussions with the FIA to try to make things easier to manage. Small adjustments can be made to make life easier for everybody. For example, I think the barcode nomination system is too complicated. We can simplify that. “Then the conditions in Argentina, where it had been decided crews would be supplied with hard gravel tyres, were not ideal for these tyres. There was a lot of rain for days and the surfaces were softer than expected. I think we can continue to talk with the teams to find common solutions to these things. Happily, we did not have any accidents or particular problems with the teams having to run tyres which were harder than ideal in Argentina. It was the same for everybody.” Was it difficult to make decisions before the season about which compound of tyres to supply? “It was not easy to make decisions because we had to do this for 2008 while we were in the middle of the 2007 season. The product was completely new for everybody and for us. “For 2009 we will have a clearer idea about how things will work out. Maybe we will be able to make better choices. Certainly for 2009 I would propose soft gravel tyres for Argentina, for example. Decisions will be easier to make when we have a year’s experience behind us! For the rest of this season there is no current intention to make any changes to the plans.” Was the new rally in Jordan the most difficult tyre choice? “Certainly. The information on which we based our decision to run hard compound tyres there was a little bit different from reality. We were told to expect gravel that was not particularly hard, maybe something like Finland. In fact the gravel was very hard, surfaces were very abrasive and we had a couple of very long stages. “We were told the surfaces on that stage would not be so aggressive on tyres but they were! Fortunately we decided on hard gravel tyres as the most conservative choice, and we happened to be right at the end of the day. “Also, the rally was very hot, hotter than we expected. Hot, hard, new for everybody, and of course we are supplying the same tyres to different teams and set-ups and different driving styles.” Will compound decisions for Russia be your biggest worry in 2009? “All the new events are question marks. We will go and check out the new stages with the FIA and manufacturers.” What about the tyre supply for the Production Car and Junior championships? “There have not been any particular problems. With Juniors, we are supplying ordinary customer rally tyres which means tyres which are not specially developed to withstand punctures, but that is like it has always been. “For Production Cars things are better because we are using the same tyres as WRC which are much more resistant to puncturing. Also, there are no asphalt rallies in the PCWRC this year which means we do not have to worry whether teams will run with 17 or 18 inch tyres.” The big success of the Pirelli supply system this year must be the anti-puncture capability for the tyres now that mousses have been banned? “We worked a lot on this. The greatest worry before the season in the teams concerned the ban on mousses. It was a big change for them. We worked on a very stiff construction and it seems the result is very good. Before we come to the really rocky recent rallies we have had an average of only three-four punctures per event, covering maybe 50-55 cars each event, and these usually happened when a wheel was damaged 44