WRC.com caught up with George Black, the Ford World Rally Team’s tyre technician, to gain an insight into the challenges facing DMACK and Michelin, the world championship’s authorised tyre suppliers, and Pirelli, which provides tyres to crews in the WRC Academy as standard.
Why are tyres subjected to such a tough test on the Acropolis Rally?
“It’s down to the shear quantity of bedrock you have to contend with on the stages and the ground temperatures of 40 degrees centigrade. On the Saturday stages last year the tyres were about 80 per cent finished after 60 kilometres but this year we’ve got to do almost 75 kilometres in a single loop. You’ve also got a lot of uphill so it’s really hard for the tyres because of the damage you do when you’re on the power coming out of the hairpins.”
What can you do to counter the tyre wear?
“There’s nothing I can do, it’s down to purely what the drivers can do. We’ve tried various things with geometry and set-up in testing but there’s nothing really that makes a big difference. Instead it’s down to how the drivers control their right feet [on the accelerator pedal] when it’s really difficult for the tyres.”
Looking at the route, when do you expect the major tyre problems to occur?
“It’s not so much one stage but the loops of stages on Saturday are difficult, especially when the ground temperatures are so high and you are climbing all the time. It’s really not easy for the tyres.”