BFGoodrich heads for the Iberian peninsular
The only round of the 2008 FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup to take place on European soil features a 2,743km route through Portugal and Spain, and will start near Estoril, Portugal, on Wednesday May 21. BFGoodrich's partners on the event include the factory Mitsubishi Ralliart squad which has entered Pajero MPR13s for Stephane Peterhansel and Luc Alphand, plus a new diesel-powered MPR14 for Nani Roma.
A fortnight after the Vodafone Rally de Portugal, second round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge and won by BFGoodrich driver Luca Rossetti (Peugeot 207), Portugal turns it attention to another major international motor sport fixture in the form of the Vodafone Rali Transiberico.
"This event bears certain similarities with the recent Central Europe Rally," observes BFGoodrich Cross-County Rally Technician Dominique Bravy. "It lasts practically a week with repeated stages and promises to be contested at fast and furious pace, even though the Volkswagen team, which won the 2007 Transiberico with Carlos Sainz, has decided to skip this year's event."
BMW/BFGoodrich will be out in numbers with five prototypes, including a car for Qatar's Nasser Al-Attiyah who proved particularly competitive in Hungary, but Mitsubishi/BFGoodrich seems to have the best chances of winning the second round of the 2008 FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup. The event starts officially in Mafra, north of Estoril, and competitors will then head for a loop in Spain before returning to the Portuguese casino resort for the finish on Sunday May 25.
"The programme of each day features one stage - of around 150/200km in length - to be covered twice," continues Dominique Bravy. "The tracks used are generally narrow and technically challenging. The first passes tend not to be too hard-wearing for tyres, but the second visits are. Happily, one-hour service halts are planned between the two and these will give teams a chance to change tyres for the afternoon's run." The 2008 route is globally similar to last year's itinerary, although a fifth day has been added this time round between Evora and Estoril.
"Crews must nominate a single type of tyre for the entire event at scrutineering the day before the start. Our partners in the T1 category will most probably choose the Rock T/A. However, depending on the weather conditions, a new BFGoodrich tyre might make its debut on the Transiberico," reveals Dominique Bravy.
The Rali Transiberico starts in Mafra, 40km northwest of Lisbon, on May 21, perhaps to the sound of the town's two celebrated carillons, and competitors go straight into a short super - special. Serious business begins the following day with a 210km stage to be contested twice before an overnight halt in Castelo Branco, near Portugal's border with Spain.