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GP Week : Issue 16
It means that the results of rallies are not influenced by punctures “ Have drivers had to change their style of driving because of the stiffer construction? “Obviously drivers are trying to go as fast as they can, so they do not want to modify their style, and I suspect because they now know how effective the tyres are against punctures, they are driving in the same way as before! “The stiffness of the tyres creates a new challenge for the engineers, however. I think the set-up of the cars is different because the tyres are stiffer than in the past.” What is the onwards development programme? “Development for the 2008 tyres finished in October 2007 at the end of official FIA testing with the teams and, unless we get an official request to make a change for 2009 from the FIA we will carry on as now.” Why are tyres leased to teams and not sold? “This is to make the invoicing of tyres easier. It means teams only pay for the tyres they actually use. We did this thinking mostly about privateers rather than the factory teams but it applies to everyone. “When a team goes to a rally, they collect the tyres from our distribution centre at the event, then they bring back all the tyres, used or unused, and we bring all the tyres back home afterwards. “If they choose to buy tyres in advance, like for testing, then they pay for all they buy and collect them from the tyre warehouse in Italy.” Are WRC tyres exclusive for the world championship? “Yes, at the moment, so when we go to non-WRC rallies like Portugal, for example, we supply normal customer competition tyres. “I do not know whether we will be allowed to sell the WRC tyres to everybody in the future, but don’t forget that the tyres used in the WRC are less performance-based than the tyres available normally to customers. In the WRC we need other qualities which do not apply elsewhere – reliability, resistance to punctures and so on. “Relative performance is not important with the WRC tyres because everybody is using the same products. When rival tyre manufacturers are present you need performance!” Chewing the fat with DR: Isola deals with the WRC heavyweights, like Dave Richards, above, on a regular basis. He says Jordan was the toughest rally of the year so far, and it took its toll on Matthew Wilson’s Pirellis, above left. M ar tin H olm es WRC INSIGHT >> 45