04 Jun 08
Mario Isola, Pirelli’s Rally Manager, says that his company’s hard compound Scorpion tyre stood up well to the battering it faced on The Acropolis Rally of Greece.
Isola said the rocky Greek stages were the toughest yet faced by the tyre, which has been the only one available on this year’s rounds in Mexico, Jordan, Argentina and Sardinia. But despite the scorching temperatures and razor sharp rocks of the Acropolis, Isola said the Scorpion had fared well, even compared to tyres used in previous years when anti-deflation systems were legal.
“For a long time these Greek stages have been a tyre’s worst enemy,” he said. “This situation has not changed since we went to a single tyre formula. Furthermore, although people adopted different strategies back then, it’s important to realise that we picked up fewer punctures this time than we did in the days when drivers were allowed to use anti-deflation mousse. Yes we had more punctures and problems than previous events, but it is what we expected. There is nothing strange; these are the most extreme conditions we have found in the championship.”
Isola said the most successful drivers on the rally were those who best adapted their speed to the limits of their car and tyres, while those who believed the tyres were indestructible had problems. “On the previous events this year we had very few punctures and some drivers perhaps felt they could push a lot harder with these tyres because they thought the tyre cannot be destroyed; but this is not true,” he said. “We saw a lot of mechanical damage, broken wheel rims and also punctures in Greece. In such conditions almost any component in the rally car package could have problems.”
Isola said conditions in Greece pushed the performance limit of the hard compound tyre, which has to perform across a wide range of conditions. “If we have to use a single tyre which is a compromise for many different events it means that, in Greece, drivers have to be careful with the tyres to manage the wear and to finish the loop of stages. We saw this especially on Saturday,” he explained.
The drivers who were first and second on the rally agreed with Isola’s assessment of the weekend. “We drove with the idea of preserving the car and the tyres on an incredibly rough surface,” said rally winner Sebastien Loeb. “The tyres were able to resist stages that were truly a massacre, so the overall conclusion is very positive - particularly considering that these tyres do not have anti-deflation mousse and that they have to adapt to a very wide range of surfaces. The strength of our C4 WRC and a strategy that concentrated on looking after our car and tyres did the rest.”
Second placed Petter Solberg agreed: “The result went beyond our wildest expectations for a brand new car like our Subaru, on what is probably the roughest event of the entire year. The tyres backed us up well, and looking at the type of surfaces we had to deal with this year, I would say that the hard compound tyres coped more than well with the conditions.”