A clean sweep for BFGoodrich tyres in 2006 In addition to the Drivers' and Manufacturers' crowns recently secured by Sebastien Loeb and BP-Ford respectively, BFGoodrich came to Wales Rally GB with the intention of adding a further win to its...
A clean sweep for BFGoodrich tyres in 2006
In addition to the Drivers' and Manufacturers' crowns recently secured by Sebastien Loeb and BP-Ford respectively, BFGoodrich came to Wales Rally GB with the intention of adding a further win to its 2006 record which would give it an historic clean sweep of the calendar's 16 rounds.
The feat was by no means a foregone conclusion however. The muddy, slippery stages of South Wales are renowned to be amongst the most treacherous of the series, while the mixed bag of conditions associated with the British round represented a fresh challenge for the BFGoodrich g-Force Gravel and the brand also faced stiff opposition from its principal rival which was on a run of four consecutive wins on this event.
The task of seeking out grip over the notoriously slimy stages fell to the soft and very soft compound versions of the g-Force Gravel, the tread pattern of which was re-cut to varying degrees with a view to clearing as much of the stages' watery top-coating as possible. Indeed, it was these tyres that helped Ford pair Marcus Gronholm and Mikko Hirvonen take control from the outset and it looked at one point as though the young Mikko still buzzing from his recent maiden WRC win in Australia last month was going to give his two-time World Champion team- mate more than just a good run for his money. On the morning of Day 1, however, he was excluded when scrutineers deemed that his roll-cage had been too severely damaged in an impact with a big rock at the very end of SS1.
Even with his Ford Focus sparring partner out of contention, Gronholm was still under a certain amount of pressure from Petter Solberg (Subaru) who completed Day 1 just 25 seconds behind the Finn. The following day though, the Norwegian, who has won the British round on four previous occasions, dropped around half a minute at the end of Leg 1 after sliding into a ditch before losing further time at the end of the second day when he damaged his steering in a collision with a gate-post.
All these misfortunes gave Marcus Gronholm a free hand to conclude his 2006 campaign just as it had begun on January's Monte Carlo Rally... with a win. Today's success is the Finn's 25th WRC win, his seventh of the season and the second of his career on the championship's British round.
Meanwhile, Petter Solberg's troubles played nicely into the hands of Manfred Stohl (2nd, Peugeot/BFGoodrich) who finished on the podium for the fourth time this year. The result also gives the Austrian 4th place in the 2006 Drivers' championship and makes him the best-placed M2 category representative.
The final standings give BFGoodrich yet another one-two finish this season. They also mean that the firm has triumphed over all the different types of terrain encountered in the course of the season, from the wintry asphalt of the Monte Carlo and Sweden's snowy stages to the high-speed gravel of Finland and Australia, the rocky tracks of Greece and Cyprus, the dry asphalt of Spain and Corsica, the wet asphalt of Germany... and the muddy conditions encountered this weekend in Wales. If one adds to that list the sand of the Dakar Rally and the broad spectrum of surfaces found in the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup, then BFGoodrich can truly claim to have become international rallying's benchmark tyre brand.
Frederic Henry-Biabaud (Michelin Group Competition Director): "2006 has been a very successful year for BFGoodrich. The firm has invested considerably in the WRC with a view to expanding its brand awareness in Europe. Our two titles and the historic clean sweep we have achieved this year have helped increase the brand's spontaneous and prompted awareness and the firm is looking to improve these figures further still by its continued presence in the WRC. I believe our success stems from the continuing rigorous and professional approach of our engineers, technicians and fitters. Our products have evolved considerably in the course of the season and we have endeavoured to make them increasingly versatile in order to cover the wide variety conditions often encountered on events. Even when tyre choices have been extremely delicate, our tyres have always been a match for the situation without compromising any of their performance and durability. Finally, I would like to thank all our partner-teams and drivers who have given us this opportunity to showcase the added value of our competition range which directly benefits BFGoodrich's road tyres like the g-Force Profiler."