Round 13: Rally Australia (November 9th - 12th 2000)
GRAVEL TO DECIDE THE CHAMPIONSHIP.
Peugeot's one-two finish in Sanremo in October brought Michelin its second consecutive grand slam on World Championship asphalt, a performance achieved this year with three different manufacturer-partners: Mitsubishi-Michelin (Monte Carlo), Ford-Michelin (Catalonia) and Peugeot-Michelin (Corsica and Sanremo).
For the moment, however, until next year's hostilities begin, the calendar has finished with sealed surfaces, and the last championship of the century will close with two gravel rounds (Rally Australia then, less than a fortnight later, Rally Great Britain). Both the 2000 Drivers' and Manufacturers' titles will therefore be decided on the loose.
Prior to Australia, Michelin's partners figure on top of the two points tables and, on paper, the French firm could well come away from Perth with one, or even both crowns safely secured.
For Peugeot-Michelin and Ford-Michelin effectively enjoy a lead of twenty and eighteen points respectively over their closest chaser in the Manufacturers' leaderboard, while in the Drivers' standings Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot-Michelin) has pulled out a cushion of five points over Richard Burns (Subaru) and six points over Ford-Michelin's Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae. Yet nothing is by any means set in concrete and the battle in Western Australia has all the makings of being yet another fast and furious affair.
Nobody will be surprised therefore if the decision ands up going all the way to the heart of the South Welsh forests at the end of November, and some would even argue that such a scenario would be a fitting way to conclude what has been one of the most fiercely contested championships in a long, long time!
I N T E R N E T
Don't miss a beat of Rally Australia. Join Michelin at www.michelinsport.com or http://mchwap.mdeo.com (new WAP site) for stage times as they come in,
On the technical front Tyres and the World Rally Championship Experience, speed of reaction, a comprehensive, competitive range, a permanent research and development programme, close technical collaboration with our partners.
Michelin's success in the World Rally Championship is founded on its expertise and the high standard of service it provides. However, every event poses its own particular challenge and success often hinges on the quality and accuracy of the response to each situation.
The challenge of Australia While the drivers' priority in Australia . often involves jockeying for a favourable position on the road before . mounting a full-scale attack on the final day, the main challenge for . Michelin is to have a product that is competitive over Bunnings' taxing. marbles .
Michelin's solution - control on the marbles
Aime Chatard, manager of Michelin's rallies programme:
a.. "Except in the rain, a fairly rare occurrence here, Australia is essentially two events in one. The first phase covers the first two days when the drivers tend to play at cat and mouse - without allowing too big a gap to open up - in an attempt to benefit from a favourable start position for the final leg. In contrast, the last day is regularly a question of all out attack to a backdrop that has come to epitomise Rally Australia: the Bunnings forest complex.
b.. The special feature of the tracks that criss-cross this region is of course the marble-like stones that form a loose carpet that winds its way between the trees. In reality, this top surface conceals a hard-packed base on which these stones act almost like a lubricant under the cars' wheels.
c.. In these unique conditions, our job is to develop tyres that are capable of optimising grip and traction, either by seeking out the hard base or by momentarily imprisoning the marbles in the tread thanks to the form of its pattern. Finding the ideal compromise demands considerable experience of this terrain on which Michelin has won on seven occasions in the past ten years. d.. Last year, we launched a new product here that gave an immediate glimpse of its potential: the Michelin ZE, the pattern of which can obviously be re-cut to match exact ground conditions and/or the prevailing form of the stones."
The tyre's importance in Australia, as seen by.
"Along with Portugal, Rally Australia is certainly the event where the Michelin ZE really comes into its own, especially in the Bunnings complex where you often get the impression that you're driving on marbles.
More than anything else, you're looking for a tread here that gives you good mechanical grip with as little block movement as possible over the broken-up, medium-sized gravel that has become the hallmark of this rally. A 'cut' Michelin Z can give a similar result to the ZE in terms of grip but at the cost of extra movement.
Meanwhile, although the re-cutting of treads has traditionally formed a big part of the challenge in Australia, the pattern of the Michelin ZE has to an extent done away with the need for this technique.
The biggest single feature of this event is of course the importance of running order through stages since the first cars tend to brush the top surface clear for cars starting further down.
Although this phenomenon is less critical in the wet since rain tends to bind the surface together, it remains a vital factor in the dry, even though it is very difficult as a driver to build any sort of plan into your overall strategy before the start to try and optimise your start position."
Michelin's tyres in Australia
Prevailing conditions Type of tyre theoretically the most suited Dimension Technical description
Clear, hard ground Michelin Z 17/65x15 The rigidity of the Michelin Z's tread blocks limits their mobility on aggressive stage surfaces. All these products are available in two compounds according to conditions: 9 (for warm weather and/or hard wearing stages) and 8 (for colder or wet weather).
Damp, soft or loose stages Michelin ZA 17/65x15 A relatively open tread pattern to penetrate the loose top surface in search of more compact ground deeper down.
Soft ground or loose gravel Michelin ZE 16/65x15 or 17/65x15 Used successfully for the first time last year in Australia. It differs from the Michelin Z and ZA by its more open tread pattern. Available in two widths.
Michelin has a total staff of 18 in Australia. The total number of covers available for the event is 1,950 shipped out by boat and plane. All are fitted with Michelin's ATS system (Appui Temporaire Souple).
Michelin's WRC partners in Australia:
FORD MOTOR CO. LTD:
Colin McRae/Nicky Grist (GB/GB); Carlos Sainz/Luis Moya (E/E) ; Tapio Laukkanen/Kaj Lindstrom (FIN/FIN)
MARLBORO MITSUBISHI RALLIAR:
Tommi Makinen/Risto Mannisenmaki (FIN/FIN); Freddy Loix/Sven Smeets (B/B)
François Delecour/Daniel Grataloup (F/F); Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen (FIN/FIN); Gilles Panizzi/Herve Panizzi (F/F)
Kenneth Eriksson/Staffan Parmander (S/S); Alister McRae/David Senior (GB/GB) <pre> World Rally Championship
Provisional standings after 12 rounds
DRIVERS MC S EAK P E RA GR NZ FIN CY F I AUS GB Total Marcus Gronholm (FIN) 0 10 0 6 2 6 0 10 10 0 2 3 - - 49 Richard Burns (GB) 0 2 10 10 6 10 0 0 0 3 3 0 - - 44 Colin McRae (GB) 0 4 0 0 10 0 10 6 6 6 0 1 - - 43 Carlos Sainz (E) 6 0 3 4 4 0 6 4 0 10 4 2 - - 43 Tommi Makinen (FIN) 10 6 0 0 3 4 0 0 3 2 0 4 - - 32 Gilles Panizzi (F) 0 - 0 - 1 - - - - - 10 10 - - 21
MANUFACTURERS MC S EAK P E RA GR NZ FIN CY F I AUS GB Total Peugeot-Michelin 0 11 0 9 3 6 2 10 13 4 16 16 - - 90 Ford-Michelin 6 4 3 4 14 0 16 10 6 16 4 5 - - 88 Subaru 4 5 16 10 6 13 4 0 2 4 5 1 - - 70 Mitsubishi-Michelin 12 6 0 2 3 6 0 0 4 2 0 4 - - 39 Seat 3 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 - - 8 Skoda-Michelin 1 - 3 1 0 - 3 0 - 0 - 0 - - 8 Hyundai-Michelin - 0 - 0 0 1 0 3 1 - 0 0 - - 5