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GP Week : Issue 129
WRC NEWS >> Now that the Tour de Corse does not feature in the world championship calendar, the event which traditionally is the most prone to sudden weather changes is Germany. This event is held in a region which does not have the constant changes in elevation as Corsica and has none of the weather instability of an island but this does not prevent fast-changing conditions. And because this event allows a choice of tyres, it matters! There are two major challenges. Firstly getting correct weather forecasting for what will happen some hours after a servicing or tyre change opportunity, often a long way away; and, if that fails, how to get the best out of tyres when they are unsuitable for the conditions. Weather forecasting Rallye Deutschland-style is quite a different proposition from, say, Formula 1, which concentrates on short- term local situations. Last year’s Deutschland Rally was unusually weather-friendly. Despite a long time threat of rain, it stayed dry – until shortly after the finish of the event. But that was unusual! The last major weather-crazy WRC rally was Bulgaria 2010. On that occasion the rally was won and lost by tyre choices through good use of available human resources rather than sophisticated meteorological equipment. The Citroen team was able to place informers at varying intervals in elevation on the nearby hills, while Ford relied on information only from the top of the cols. And what to do when the forecast is wrong, or the weather is so variable that no type of tyre will be right? Pirelli rally tyres manager Matteo Braga has available the benefit of three years of control tyre experience in the WRC generally and is now working with the Academy drivers: “If the weather is as usual, drivers must realise that they will not be running on the correct tyres all the time, and that of all the rallies in the championship the Deutschland is the most difficult for this problem. We will advise the Academy drivers to carry two spare wheels of the different tyre type to those on the rest of the car, so they will always have the more suitable tyres on the front of the car.” The Academy cars have a different range of tyres. On the four-wheel-drive WRC cars all the tyres have the same road- homologated tread patterns, so the risk of aquaplaning is not increased by using hard compound tyres. In the two-wheel- drive Academy cars, the hard and soft tyres have different patterns, like the old Junior championship cars used to have. On the two-wheel-drive cars tyre wear is much more severe on the front tyres and driving with the ‘wrong’ tyres on the rear is not such a big issue. On the four- wheel-drive cars the wear is more equally balanced. Welcome to the Weather Casino Deutschland post-script