Joint venture tyre evaluation and development programme announced Through the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship, Pirelli Tyres have joined forces with the Forestry Commission to carry out an evaluation and tyre development ...
Joint venture tyre evaluation and development programme announced
Through the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship, Pirelli Tyres have joined forces with the Forestry Commission to carry out an evaluation and tyre development programme with the aim of reducing damage to forest roads.
One of the major objectives for the organisers of the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship is the provision of sustainable solutions to the environmental impact of rallying in the UK. Following on from the introduction of a "greener" control fuel, a partnership set up by the BRC with Pirelli and the Forestry Commission will examine tyre technologies with a view to finding a solution which will have positive economic and environmental benefits.
The sport has long recognised that action needs to be taken to avert the threat of exponential increases in the Forestry Commission charges, due to pressure imposed on the management of forest tracks and the rising costs of repairing the roads. Indeed a Concordat drawn up at the beginning of 2005 between the Motorsport Association and the Forestry Commission pledged to find a solution to reduce the damage, examine vehicle performance and tyre technologies.
Now nearly three years on, Pirelli Tyres, the official tyre suppliers to the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship have funded an initiative and have partnered with the Forestry Commission to conduct a trial evaluation of tyre technologies. They will compare current tread patterns and compounds to help in the development of a tyre designed specifically to reduce the damage to the surface of a gravel road.
World Rally Championship control tyre manufacturers Pirelli have experience of tyre design solutions in Sweden and the WRC. Pirelli will provide technical support, the measuring of data and immediate access to factory tyre design and manufacture facilities to provide a solution.
In a highly competitive environment and without specific regulation, tyre manufacturers strive to provide the best traction solutions with obvious consequences to the road surface. The modern open tread patterns and sharp edges are designed to create the maximum "bite" into the track, discarding the loose surface construction which displaces the road material which is often lost in the undergrowth. The replacement stone has to be brought by road from quarries outside of the local area further adding to the environmental impact.
Dick Cormack from Pirelli Tyres explained, "Current modern loose surface pattern rally tyres are designed to provide maximum traction and performance without any regard to the damage they cause to track surfaces. Coupled with powerful four-wheel drive systems, more efficient braking, active transmission and suspension systems, they provide aggressive traction for modern rally cars both in acceleration, cornering and braking areas."
In Sweden, where most of the loose surface tracks are used as public roads, the need to stop major damage to the road surface included a regulatory change in tyre tread, prescribing a closer tread pattern and the implementation of track protection methods which included placing posts in the apex of corners and the use of "bunds".
Two sections of comparable road will be chosen by the Forestry Commission and their engineers and forest managers will be on hand to measure data and observe the evaluation processes. Prodrive has agreed to supply a car and Mark Higgins will be drafted in as the test driver with witnesses from the MSA and press invited.
"The Forestry Commission is keen to support this trial. We are always conscious of the impact of our business on the environment, and any initiative which helps to support sustainability is very welcome. We are pleased to work with BRC and Pirelli to try to find a long term solution to reducing costly road damage within forests," said Chris Probert from the Forestry Commission.
"The organisers of the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship hope that any new development favoured by the Forestry Commission will not only have positive impact on the environment, but will have a beneficial affect on the costs to competitors, reduce average rally speeds and be more mechanically sympathetic to transmissions, making for smoother, less damaging road surfaces."
"We have been in dialogue with the Forestry Commission for some time now discussing ideas that may address the damage and repair to forest roads." said BRC Manager Mark Taylor.
"I am really excited by this new initiative, as it has the potential to deliver major benefits to the sport, the competitors, rally organisers and our relationship and partnership with the Forestry Commission. There are lots of positive win win messages to come from this and I hope that in the short term a successful outcome would be viewed favourably in the Forestry Commission rates charged to rallies and championships that adopt any new regulation."