16 May 08
Pirelli says that the flat tyres suffered by Jari-Matti Latvala and Gigi Galli on Friday morning were caused by the tyres being forced off the wheel rims, rather than puncturing in the traditional sense.
The two most significant tyre related incidents of the rally so far occurred on the second stage, when Latvala and Galli both slid wide at the exactly the same point, and slammed their left-hand rear wheels into a bank.
“In both cases it looks like the tyre was pushed clean off the rim, rather than punctured,” said a spokesman for Pirelli. “Latvala’s tyre lost all its air almost immediately and was badly damaged by the end of the stage, while Galli appears to have slowed for the remaining 20km to preserve the rubber. At this stage of the rally, however, we are satisfied with the performance of the hard compound Scorpion, as well as the feedback we have received from the drivers.”
At the service park in Olbia rally leader Sebastien Loeb said he was satisfied with the performance of the tyres so far. But he warned that the afternoon might be more difficult. “The tyres are not so bad - in fact after three stages they look like new,” he said. "But on the repeated stages there will be more ruts in the road, the surface will be more abrasive and there’s a good chance rocks will have been pulled onto the road.”