It’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere with ambient temperatures unlikely to exceed 15 degrees centigrade, while rain is also expected.
Solberg, who like Latvala is a previous New Zealand winner, admits tyre selection could therefore be key to success on the gravel event. Tyre firm Michelin, which supplies the bulk of the leading crews, has nominated its hard compound tyre with 10 soft compound tyres available for use in wet and muddy conditions as the option. In total, crews are restricted to a total of 35 covers.
“There’s a good chance the temperatures will be low and rain is likely,” said the Norwegian former world champion. “That will make it hard to generate heat into the hard compound tyres, which will be our primary option for the rally. It’s the same for everyone and there’s nothing we can do about it, but the other side of the coin is that the Fiesta RS WRC works well with hard compound rubber.”
Tyre wear is rarely an issue in New Zealand due to the smooth nature of the farmland roads. However, if the weather is particularly bad the stage surface could deteriorate and supplies of Michelin’s soft compound tyre could soon be depleted.
There will be no such problems for Ford privateer Jari Ketomaa. He will use DMACK tyres in New Zealand and will have an ample supply of soft compound rubber available after the Anglo-Chinese firm nominated the soft version of its new DMG+2 tyre as its primary option for the event from 21-24 June.