Performance demanded, performance delivered Arising generation of young drivers, a new wave of increasingly potent cars, changing formats for the events themselves, including the introduction of longer stages: the World Rally...
Performance demanded, performance delivered
Arising generation of young drivers, a new wave of increasingly potent cars, changing formats for the events themselves, including the introduction of longer stages: the World Rally Championship is undergoing a period of change. And Michelin is accompanying the movement with a service and product range tailored to meet the current trend.
From the virtuosity of the front-runners to the battling in the pack for potentially crucial championship points, right up to the surprise finale, spectators on the recent Sanremo Rally were treated to yet another first class show...
Like everything, the WRC is evolving, and the fight at the sharp end seems to be getting more and more intense by the event. The eleven rounds already organised this year have produced no fewer than five different winners, including three who had never tasted victory champagne prior to 2002. The new generation has well and truly made its mark and, what is more, at the wheel of awesomely efficient cars.
At the same time, the rallies themselves are also evolving, including the probable use of remote service parks from 2004, as well as the likelihood of longer stages with up to 80km of uninterrupted, against-the-clock action. Indeed, the Sanremo Rally gave a glimpse of this shift by programming the longest asphalt test seen at WRC level in many years.
Just as they have adapted to the latest cars, the younger drivers have clearly taken this new challenge in their stride too. And Michelin, through the development of technologically sophisticated solutions made possible by ongoing efforts of its research staff and chemists, continues to provide them with the means to show off their skills.
Achieving the impossible. The Sanremo Rally's long 'Teglia' stage (52 km) provided a foretaste of the anticipated trend towards the use of more stages of this length -and probably longer - from 2004.
However, the way testing is done makes it extremely difficult to cover such distances non-stop in order to rigorously validate new tyres upstream of events.
The rallies themselves are therefore likely to become the place where this vital work is carried out, as was the case with the launch of the new '2+' compound of the Michelin N 'FP' in Sanremo. And this in turn means that reactivity is poised to become a key factor in the performance stakes.
"The new product we took to Italy lived up every bit to the expectations of our developers," confirms Aim