The land of BFGoodrich's first motor sport successes BFGoodrich returns to Mexico -- the country that has provided the backdrop to some of its finest moments in motor sport -- as provisional leader of the 2006 FIA World Rally Championship. Indeed,...
The land of BFGoodrich's first motor sport successes BFGoodrich returns to Mexico -- the country that has provided the backdrop to some of its finest moments in motor sport -- as provisional leader of the 2006 FIA World Rally Championship. Indeed, last November saw BFGoodrich tyres collect their twentieth consecutive victory in North America's legendary off-road competition, the Baja 1000. This weekend, however, it's neither buggies nor pickups that BFGoodrich will be supplying on Maya soil but WRC machinery, and the tyre challenge will obviously be very different. Over the wide, technically demanding stages of the Leon region, the aim will be to optimise traction and to limit by how much the cars slide. As the first gravel round of the 2006 season, Rally
Mexico is eagerly awaited by WRC followers to see if a tendency emerges for the campaign ahead. Despite the two successes so far of Marcus Grönholm/Timo Rautiainen and their Ford Focus WRC/BFGoodrich, the Monte Carlo and Swedish Rallies were both so untypical of the rest of the calendar that it is difficult to read any sort of definitive pattern into their results. Rally Mexico, which is based in Leon and the mining town of Guanajuato, a UNESCO world heritage site, features high altitude stages (culminating at 2,737m) and wide tracks that permit spectacular power slides.
However, although welcomed by spectators, such
slides can cost valuable time?
"For Mexico, the drivers want tyres that give good traction with no variations in wheelspin even at high angles of steering lock," says Aimé Chatard, BFGoodrich's Rallies Programme Manager. "Maintaining the ideal speed enables them to control how much the car's rear slides by adjusting the amount of power being delivered to the wheels. That said, a car that slides, even progressively, is often a car that is not at its most effective, and therefore not at its quickest."
Drivers with an asphalt style who like near-racing lines want rear-end stability and therefore seek to restrict how much the rear slides to be able to re-accelerate early out of corners. BFGoodrich's tyres won over the drivers during testing by their ability to do just this.
SEEN BY SÉBASTIEN LOEB (Citroën/BFGoodrich)
"This is an event that has yet to go well for me. In 2004, I was leading when I damaged my sump after a heavy landing. Last year, a suspension mounting broke shortly after the start, although I succeeded in fighting back from 18th to 4th place overall. For this rally's wide stages, I want my tyres to be progressive, with good lateral bite, especially at the rear. This year, we will also have to manage tyre wear since not having active differentials promises to be more of a handicap on the loose. That said, our tests with the g-Force Gravel in Spain proved very encouraging."
QUOTA -- Manufacturer 1 and 2 entered drivers have a total quota of 60 tyres each, 35 of which may be used during the event (rally + shakedown). Just one type of pattern is authorised, compared with two last year. Tyres were nominated on January 17th.
PATTERN/CONSTRUCTION -- While the tread needs to be capable of cutting through the loose top-coating to enable the compound to heat up and provide grip, the construction must cope with the acceleration and braking forces to combat the centrifugal forces that tend to deviate the car from its line... HOT! -- At the end of the 73km loop, the temperature of the tread band surface could well reach 110°C.
TESTING OUTLAWED IN MEXICO -- With overseas testing prohibited, pre-event tests for Rally Mexico took place in Spain in January and February. It was difficult however to test products in identical conditions (different temperatures, type of surface, altitude, etc.). FINAL TESTS -- Marcus Grönholm drove his Ford Focus WRC06 on BFGoodrich's g-Force Gravel tyre on the loose for the first time in Spain on February 22- 23. The test base was reasonably similar to the Mexican stages, but temperatures only got up to 8°C! FORD/BFGOODRICH -- The last two Baja 1000s have been won by Troy Herbst's Smith Built Ford/BFGoodrich. The 2006 event (15-18 November) will be based in Ensenada.
ROUTE NOTE CREWS -- BFGoodrich will provide its partners with detailed and general descriptions of stage surfaces and conditions thanks to its own route note crew.