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GP Week : Issue 109
Rally teams in Portugal have been told to expect improved versions of the Michelin gravel tyres in time for the Jordan Rally, to overcome the spate of punctures experienced in earlier rounds of the world championship. Teams have expressed varying emotions at the news and have already satisfactorily tested the new products. Firstly, there is relief that the problems with Michelin tyres experienced in Sweden, Mexico and Portugal looks like being solved, but dismay that the opportunity to introduce a change of specification has been carried out in apparent variation of the contractual supply agreement. The discontent centres around the wording of the FIA agreement with Michelin and DMack tyres, in which only one change (“a joker”) can be introduced during the year. That clause was intended to permit a variation of the available compounds, if specific and unique conditions were likely to be encountered. It was expected the “joker” would be introduced at the end of the year in readiness for cold and wet conditions traditionally found on Wales Rally GB. Teams believe that Michelin have gained the special approval of the FIA to use this joker facility twice, firstly to overcome the weaknesses of Michelin’s originally- supplied tyres, which involves a change of construction of the tyre, and also to introduce another compound option Tyre crisis resolved by double joker? Jordan in the balance? The FIa is expected to make a statement today about the forthcoming Jordan Rally, fourth round of the world rally championship, due to be held 14-16 april. The Citroen team has already announced it would prefer not to go there. Competition director Olivier Quesnel said that the WRC teams had planned to take their equipment by land from the Mediterranean across Syria: “It is a question of safety passing through Syria and, more than that, we do not think it is decent to go through countries where there is unrest just so we can go and play with our cars.” M-Sport competition manager Malcolm Wilson confirmed that Ford were working with Citroen discussing the problem: “ The main issue for us is the fact that the vehicles have to travel through Syria, and whether there is now time to book alternative routings to get to Jordan. The problem for us is the safety of getting there and back, rather than actually being in Jordan itself.” In previous years the equipment has been taken through the Red Sea and offloaded at Aqaba. 46