WRC

Rally New Zealand: BFGoodrich preview

The Drivers' title for BFGoodrich with Sebastien Loeb*, but the list may not stop there! After making sure of the Drivers' world title* two weeks ago with Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, BFGoodrich could well add the Manufacturers' crown to its...

The Drivers' title for BFGoodrich with Sebastien Loeb*, but the list may not stop there!

After making sure of the Drivers' world title* two weeks ago with Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, BFGoodrich could well add the Manufacturers' crown to its 2006 record with its partner BP-Ford WRT this weekend in New Zealand, venue of the penultimate round of this year's championship. At the same time, BFGoodrich tyres will be looking for a 21st consecutive Baja 1000 success in Mexico.

New Zealand -- or Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud, as the Maoris call it -- will this weekend host the 2006 World Rally Championship's penultimate round which has moved to Hamilton, south of Auckland. New Zealand's fourth biggest town with a population of 130,000, Hamilton is famous for the Waikato Stadium, home to the Chiefs rugby union team which finished 7th in the recent Super 14 tournament. This weekend, however, the pack's forwards will hand the sporting limelight to world class rallying's own heavyweights?

Although this is the event's first visit to Hamilton as host town, the route itself is not entirely new since certain classic tests like Te Akau South, Te Akau North and Whaanga Coast are familiar ground for the current crop of drivers. Other stages, however, including the longest of the weekend (SS2, 43.88km) haven't been contested since the 1990s, or even the 1980s.

"Every year, the trip to New Zealand is the WRC's gift to the drivers," says BFGoodrich's Rallies Programme Manager Aimé Chatard. "The gravel stages are set in magnificent scenery and the roads are essentially fast and technically challenging. Sheer delight."

No stage symbolises the country's breathtaking landscapes better than 'Whaanga Coast' which hugs the Tasmanian Sea shoreline and is possibly the most photographed stage of the series,

although not necessarily the most interesting for the drivers or tyres. "The last 13km are in fact very twisty and quite demanding on tyres, especially second time through. As a rule, the stages south of Auckland tend to be twistier than those to the north we have seen in recent years," says Michel Ducher, Kronos Total Citroën's BFGoodrich technician and the 2006 'Technicians World Rally Champion' with Loeb* and Elena!

"If the weather stays fine, BFGoodrich drivers will mostly use the medium '9' and hard '9+' compounds," continues Aimé Chatard. "BFGoodrich will be looking for its 15th win from 15 starts. The opposition promises to be stiffer but our products have won all the gravel rallies contested so far this season."

(*) subject to the publication of the official results by the FIA

BFGOODRICH NEWS

QUOTA - M1 and M2 priority drivers had to nominate their tyres for Rally New Zealand (a total of 60, of which 45 may be used, including for shakedown) before September 19. A single type of tread pattern is authorised.

UAE DESERT CHALLENGE - The result of the recent UAE Desert Challenge enabled BFGoodrich to collect its 9th FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup thanks to Russia's Sergey Shmakov (Zil Buggy). The final round of the 2006 series was won by Luc Alphand (Mitsubishi/BFGoodrich).

BAJA 1000 - This weekend will also see BFGoodrich tyres competing on the Baja 1000, America's best-known rally-raid. It starts at 6.30am local time on Thursday November 16 and features a 1,047.8-mile route (1,609km) from Ensanada to La Paz at Baja California's southern tip. BFGoodrich tyres have won this event 20 times in a row and will be out for a 21st success. The 434 entrants include the WRC's Skoda Red Bull team manager Armin Schwarz who will drive a Class 1 buggy (N°101).

BFGOODRICH, USA CHAMPS - X-Games phenomenon Travis Pastrana has won the 2006 United States Rally Championship driving a Group N Subaru Impreza equipped with BFGoodrich tyres. Travis won three of the ten rounds, including one (X-Games 12) ahead of Colin McRae. His Vermont SportsCar team-mate Ken Block (Subaru/BFGoodrich) won two rounds.

BFGOODRICH WITH THE CHAMPIONS - BFGoodrich's two 2006 rally champions Travis Pastrana, (2006 USA Champion) and Sébastien Loeb (2006 World Champion) could well find themselves racing head-to-head on December 16 at the Stade de France, Paris, where 16 champions from the worlds of F1, rallying, NASCAR, ChampCar, DTM and WTCC are due to compete in The Race of Champions - Nations Cup.
BFGoodrich is the event's official tyre supplier.

-credit: bfg

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Colin McRae , Sébastien Loeb , Travis Pastrana , Daniel Elena , Ken Block
Teams Citroën World Rally Team