MICHELIN 2000 WORLD RALLY CHAMPION.
In Australia, with its partner Peugeot, Michelin clinched its 29th World Rally Championship title*. This weekend in Wales, the French tyre specialist could add a 30th crown to that score if Marcus Gronholm succeeds in finishing on top of the 2000 Drivers' table.
Winning such a fiercely fought championship as the one we have seen this year is a season-long business and, for a tyre manufacturer, above all demands a full range of competitive, proven products. For in no other form of motor sport does such a staggering variety of surfaces and parameters come into play.
In 2000, Michelin tyres finished first in no less than ten of the thirteen rounds run to date and won over all the types of terrain encountered in the course of the season, from dry and damp asphalt, snow and ice, to smooth and rough gravel.
Success for Michelin on all surfaces in 2000. * Wintry conditions
While the Monte Carlo Rally demands an extremely broad range of products to match this event's often complex combinations of stage conditions, the predominantly snowbound or icy Swedish Rally calls for just two pattern. But success in the Warmland - where Michelin won this year for the ninth time in ten years - depends much on the quality of the bond between the studs and tyres.
2000 Results Monte Carlo: 1st, Makinen/Mannisenmaki (Mitsubishi-Michelin) Sweden: 1st, Gronholm/Rautiainen (Peugeot-Michelin)
* Smooth gravel
Despite a new regulation this year that has limited teams to just two patterns on gravel events, the all-round qualities of Michelin's tyres meant the firm's partners could rely on a range of competitive and reliable products for both hard and soft ground. In New Zealand and in Finland, Michelin-equipped cars led from start to finish, while in Portugal Marcus Gronholm finished second just 6.5 seconds behind the winner!
2000 Results *Portugal: 1st, Burns/Reid (Subaru)
Argentina: 1st, Burns/Reid (Subaru)
New Zealand: 1st, Gronholm/Rautiainen (Peugeot-Michelin)
Finland: 1st, Gronholm/Rautiainen (Peugeot-Michelin)
Australia: 1st, Gronholm/Rautiainen (Peugeot-Michelin)
* Rough gravel
The latest evolutions of the Michelin ZB triumphed over the punishing, sun-baked tracks of Greece and Cyprus, with Ford-Michelin collecting one-two finishes on both events. The strength and performance of Michelin's products was reinforced by the stage-winning efficiency of its ATS system. The only false note was Kenya where the value of this system is still limited. Needless to say however, Michelin is already busy preparing for the 2001 Safari.
2000 Results Safari: 1st, Burns/Reid (Subaru)
Greece: 1st, McRae/Grist (Ford-Michelin)
Cyprus: 1st, Sainz/Moya (Ford-Michelin)
Michelin won all this year's asphalt rounds to secure its second consecutive "grand slam" on sealed surfaces. Unbeaten since its launch in October 1998, the Michelin N 'FP' ('Fort Potentiel', or 'Strong Potential') has emerged as the most sophisticated asphalt tyre in the World Championship.
Catalonia: 1st, McRae/Grist (Ford-Michelin)
Corsica: 1st, Panizzi/Panizzi (Peugeot-Michelin)
Sanremo: 1st, Panizzi/Panizzi (Peugeot-Michelin)
Michelin's 2000 season in figures *
29 The number of world titles (15 "Manufacturers", 14 "Drivers") won by Michelin since the creation of the World Championship in 1973 (Drivers' championship created in 1979). Marcus Gronholm could take this score to 30 this weekend...
10 The number of wins by Michelin's partners in 2000.
5 The number of all-Michelin podiums, including one 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 result (Finland), one 1-2-3-4-5-6 (Sanremo), one 1-2-3-4-5 (New Zealand) and one 1-2-3-4 (Sweden).
3 The number of Michelin one-two finishes (Monte Carlo, Greece, Corsica).
70% The percentage of stages (all surfaces) won by Michelin's partners.
82% The percentage of asphalt stages won by Michelin's partners.
65% The percentage of gravel stages won by Michelin's partners.
(*) after 13 rounds (up to but not including the Rally of Great Britain).
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 Great Britai raditionally the final round of the WRC season, this rally regularly proves the decider in either the Drivers' or the Manufacturers' title chases. And often both. The pressure is therefore very much on, while the stages themselves demand faultless performance from tyres and cars alike. For Michelin's engineers, easing up as the year ends is clearly out of the question.
Michelin's solution - optimised torque Aime Chatard, manager of Michelin's rally programme:
a.. "If only because of the inconsistent nature of its stages, which switch continuously between hard ground and mud, this rally always springs a few surprises. And today, even though it has become entirely focused on South Wales, its special demands require us to take a full range of compounds for each of the two main patterns we will have there.
b.. "One of the big difficulties we face of course is finding sufficiently representative conditions during pre-event testing which, for calendar reasons, takes place back in September. Having said that, for the first time since 1997, we were able to benefit this year from one cold day (4C) which allowed us to look at some new solutions for cold, wet, slippery ground.
c.. "In such conditions, the role of the tyre is obviously critical, notably in terms of grip (which, once the mud has been cleared by the tread, is generated by the reaction of the rubber's molecules over the unevenness of the ground). However, the key parameter is the performance of the car, and more specifically the smoothness of engine torque delivery. For it is only if this torque is permanently optimised and evenly split between all four wheels that the qualities of such proven products as the Michelin ZA and the Michelin ZE can really come into their own."
The tyre's importance in Great Britain, as seen by.
"The main qualities you're looking for here are grip and traction, plus an open tread pattern to clear loose mud and gravel as efficiently as possible.
You've also got to understand the incredible variety of conditions you can get on this event. For nowadays you are restricted to just two patterns on any given rally and these must be chosen four weeks before the start.
The problem is that pre-event testing often takes place in conditions that are often nothing like those you get on the day. On top of that, you can never entirely rule out such extremes as ice or even snow*. It can even turn out completely dry!
Given all these possible variants, I can't overstress the importance of the contribution of gravel note crews!"
(*) Note: as an exceptional measure this season, the clerk of the course may authorise the use of a snow pattern. This must be a Monte Carlo-type maxi snow pattern. without studs.
Michelin's WRC partners in Great Britain:
FORD MOTOR CO. LTD:
Colin McRae/Nicky Grist (GB/GB); Carlos Sainz/Luis Moya (E/E); Tapio Laukkanen/Kaj Lindstrom (FIN/FIN)
MARLBORO MITSUBISHI RALLIART:
Tommi Makinen/Risto Mannisenmaki (FIN/FIN); Freddy Loix/Sven Smeets (B/B)