Here are the facts: each WRC driver can use just 40 tyres from a selection of 30 soft compound asphalt, 20 super soft compound asphalt, 10 non-studded snow and 20 studded snow. And that’s it. Re-use them if you want, but there are no more available.
In this year’s snowy conditions the studded snow tyre has been the pick of the bunch. And it’s likely to be absolutely vital to success on Saturday where fresh snow is forecast and the Alpine roads snake up to an altitude of 1600 metres. However as drivers have already made extensive use of the studs on the opening three days, the question is which ones have best rationed their supply.
The drivers are understandably cagey about what studded tyres they have available. But the team managers are a little more forthcoming.
Volkswagen Motorsport boss Jost Capito told wrc.com that his drivers had been on a stud saving mission since Wednesday. “From the first day we’ve asked them to conserve their studded tyres on the asphalt sections – if you look at the split times you’ll see that they were pretty slow, so they did exactly what we asked them to do. I won’t tell you exactly what we have left, but I think that we are in an acceptable, if not ideal position for tomorrow,”
Citroen Racing head Yves Matton said: “The number of new studded tyres we have depends on the drivers; some have four, some less and some more. It’s not the optimum, because for sure we don’t have enough to do all the stages with new tyres, but the second hand ones we have seem to be in good condition. If we manage well we can achieve our goal.”
M-Sport technical chief Christian Loriaux felt each team had broadly the same number of good tyres left. “We don’t have too many but I think everybody here is in the same boat. Okay, we’re getting a bit short but fortunately we’re allowed to re-use and we have a fair few that are undamaged. Like everybody we will not have all new tyres but we will have reasonably decent ones with studs so I think the fight will be fair.”
But stud rationing aside, Loriaux said this year’s stage conditions had made tyre choices unusually straightforward.
“This is the only Monte-Carlo I’ve done where it’s been pretty much obvious what tyres to use,” he explained. “Usually picking the right ones for the mixed conditions is the biggest challenge here. We spend so much time testing the tyres on different road conditions, and trying various mix options, like studded on the front, slicks on the rear, side to side, diagonally and so on. The possibilities are absolutely massive”
Saturday’s final leg kicks off at 1511hrs with the Moulinet – La Bollene Vesubie test that includes the famous Col de Turini section.