IRC: BFGoodrich Monte Carlo preview

BFGOODRICH AND THE MONTE CARLO CHALLENGE The 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge kicks off with the world's most famous rally, the Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo. The 77th edition of this winter classic promises to be a fiercely fought affair,...

BFGOODRICH AND THE MONTE CARLO CHALLENGE

The 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge kicks off with the world's most famous rally, the Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo. The 77th edition of this winter classic promises to be a fiercely fought affair, with a route that stretches all the way from the Principality of Monaco to France's Ardèche region and back again. BFGoodrich, whose tyres won the 2006 and 2007 Montes, is more than ready for this year's challenge.

The route of the 2009 Rallye Monte-Carlo visits such legendary regions as the Mercantour, the Pays du Buech, the Ardèche and the Vercors, as well as some of the stages that have forged the event's legend over the years, including Laborel, Saint Jean en Royans and Saint Bonnet le Froid. And given the recent wintry weather, it could well even turn out to be a 'white' Monte featuring the infamous freezing Ardèche winds, snowdrifts, snowy climbs and icy descents, a cocktail that will make getting tyre choices right more vital than ever...

The event stands out as a real challenge for BFGoodrich: "This year's event sees the return of some of the traditional features of the past, including some legendary stages. This represents a big shift in the basic equation we tyre manufacturers face," says BFGoodrich's IRC Programme Manager Jacques Morelli. "A decade ago, each driver had some 250 tyres available for this rally and was able to choose from a range of maybe 10 different products just before the start of each stage."

"Today, tyres must be chosen at the preceding service halt for groups of two or three tests at a time. The decisions are made sometimes hours ahead of the start of stages situated a long way from the service park in question. It is consequently important to try to predict how the weather will turn, which is never easy in this part of France in the midst of winter," underlines Jacques Morelli.

BFGoodrich has adapted to such situations by producing ever more versatile products and, above all, by preparing meticulously for the event during pre-event testing.

"We will have five different types of tyre for the Monte," explains Patrick Letort, Chief BFGoodrich Technician. "On an event like this, it's all about finding the ideal compromise because there is no ideal choice. On the same loop, drivers can come across a mix of dry, wet, snowy and icy conditions in varying proportions! Pre-event testing is therefore crucial since it enables the drivers and BFGoodrich's technical staff to determine the conditions for which each type of tyre is suited."

Indeed, the tyre choice for the very first group of stages on Wednesday January 21 promises to be particularly complex since the two tests are separated by some 200km. This group is followed by a visit to the classic Saint Jean en Royans test that could well be snowy.

THE BFGOODRICH TYRE RANGE for the 2009 Rallye Monte-Carlo

Dry asphalt

g-Force Profiler 110F
Size: 225/40-18 -- Compound: extra soft
Use: dry or damp asphalt, low temperatures

g-Force Profiler A03
Size: 225/40-18 -- Compound: soft
Use: dry or damp asphalt, low/medium temperatures

g-Force Profiler A11
Size: 225/40-18 -- Compound: hard
Use: dry asphalt, medium/high temperatures

Damp asphalt

g-Force Profiler M01
Size: 225/40-18 -- Compound: extra soft
Use: the tread pattern of this 'intermediate' tyre can be 're-cut' to turn it into a full wet tyre, depending on how much water needs to be cleared. This tyre was introduced in 2008.

Snow and/or ice

g-Force Winter
Size: 215/45-18
A tyre for icy asphalt with a siped tread pattern. The tread can be equipped with one or two rows of studs depending on the amount of snow and/or ice on the stage.

WINTER TESTING

Peugeot, Skoda and Abarth all organised test sessions in the south of France in December, and again in January. The drivers were able to work with the full range of BFGoodrich tyres in particularly wintry conditions.

ROUTE CHANGE

The recent severe winter weather has led to the road from Sospel to La Bollène being closed to traffic because of landslides. The 'Turini' stage has consequently been modified and will now start from the Col de Braus and will reach the Col du Turini via Peira-Cava before the descent to La Bollène (34.68km). The section from Col de Braus to Peira Cava was previously used by the Monte Carlo Rally two or three years ago. The stage is on the shady side of the mountain and could well be icy.

BFGOODRICH DRIVERS TEAM

France's motor sport governing body, the FFSA, received 75 applications for the BFGoodrich Drivers Team drive on the Monte Carlo, and an initial shortlist of five drivers was produced, namely Sebastien Ogier, Alex Bengue, Jean- Seb Vigion, Yohan Bonato and Bryan Bouffier. A panel of experts comprising representatives of the media, BFGoodrich, Kronos Racing and the FFSA finally nominated the reigning Junior World Champion Sebastien Ogier who will get to contest the legendary Rallye Monte- Carlo for the first time. The occasion marks the return of 25-year old Ogier to the Peugeot camp following his success in the 2006 Volant Peugeot before switching to a Citroen C2 for the 2008 J-WRC. His first outing in a WRC car on last November's Wales Rally GB saw him figure at the top of the leaderboard throughout the first morning, ahead of world class rallying's top stars. Sebastien Ogier has never previously contested the Rallye Monte-Carlo but he hails from the Hautes-Alpes region and has watched the rally as a spectator many times. This year will see him take part in the event in the competitive package of the 207 S2000 running on BFGoodrich tyres.

BFGOODRICH AND THE RALLYE MONTE-CARLO

The 2006 Rallye Monte-Carlo marked BFGoodrich's debut in the World Rally Championship, with Marcus Gronholm (Ford) giving the American tyre brand its first WRC win. On the following year's event, victory for Sebastien Loeb handed BFGoodrich its second consecutive success in the Principality.

BFGOODRICH STAGE OBSERVERS

Two teams of BFGoodrich observers will drive through the stages ahead of competitors with a view to providing BFGoodrich runners with information concerning the road and weather conditions before they choose their tyres. Each of these teams of observers will be equipped with a computer and telecommunications system designed to transmit all the data (graphs, percentages of ice, etc.) to BFGoodrich's base in the service parks. This information will then be handed to the firm's partner teams to help them make their tyre choices.

2,800 BFGOODRICH TYRES

BFGoodrich will have 2.800 tyres available for the 37 cars that are running on its products on the 2009 Rallye Monte- Carlo. The firm's staff will work out of a truck workshop and a mobile office.

-credit: bfg

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Marcus Gronholm , Sébastien Loeb , Alex Bengue , Sébastien Ogier , Bryan Bouffier
Teams Citroën World Rally Team