The IRC visits Portugal, rally territory The people of Portugal have long been passionate about their motor sport and BFGoodrich has notched up an impressive list of international successes in the country on events like the Rally...
The IRC visits Portugal, rally territory
The people of Portugal have long been passionate about their motor sport and BFGoodrich has notched up an impressive list of international successes in the country on events like the Rally Transiberico, the Vodafone Rally de Portugal and the Rali Vinho Madeira, as well as on the Dakar which started from the capital, Lisbon, in recent years. The Vodafone Rally de Portugal counted towards the World Rally Championship in 2007 and this year sees it figure on the calendar of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, using a practically identical route which stands out as perhaps the toughest of the season for tyres.
It was last year, when the Rally de Portugal counted towards the World Rally Championship, that BFGoodrich's engineers and technicians got their first taste of the Mediterranean Oak-lined stages through the hills of the Algarve.
"It's a very hard wearing rally for tyres," recalls Chief BFGoodrich Technician Patrick Letort. "The hard-packed ground and buried stones take their toll on the rubber. The stages tend to be fast and the weather can be hot at this time of year, so that only adds to the wear. Mousse run-flat systems were authorised last year, but they are banned this time round. "
Re-cutting likely The main choice for BFGoodrich runners consequently promises to be the hard compound g-Force Gravel ZS6. The pattern of this robust, competitive tyre will frequently be re-cut at service, however, since the Portuguese stages tend to be covered by a top coating of loose gravel which the tyres will need to clear if there are to provide maximum grip.
Those drivers running amongst the first on the road can expect to sweep a clear line for those further down the start order and will be especially handicapped on the Friday and Saturday morning loops which total 58 and 65km of stages respectively.
"Because of this phenomenon, if the conditions are dry, the first driver on the road stands to lose up to around a second per kilometre compared with the tenth driver through," says BFGoodrich's IRC Programme Manager Jacques Morelli. "Our technicians promise to play a big role when it comes to advising our partner-teams about how best to re-cut patterns as a function of the conditions and running order. Re-cutting is done by hand in the service park."
The Portuguese on home soil The 2008 Rally de Portugal is sure to be a fiercely fought affair and the list of potential winners includes all the IRC favourites, those who came away from Turkey empty-handed, the gravel specialists and a number of 50-odd-year-olds making their comeback.
That said, the event's tricky and technically challenging stages could mean that local knowledge is decisive. The top Portuguese drivers can consequently be expected to figure well, including the likes of three-time Rally de Portugal winner Armindo Araujo, last year's top S2000 finisher Bruno Magalhaes, and Jose Pedro Fontes.
Also present will be the BFGoodrich Drivers Team driver, Miguel Campos, who will attend his first test session on the 5th of may in Faro. The 2003 European Rally Championship runner-up was selected by his national ASN, a panel of journalists, BFGoodrich and Kronos Racing to drive the Peugeot 207 S2000 which will fly the colours of both Portugal and BFGoodrich.
"The Portuguese motorsport body received 48 applications for the BFGoodrich Drivers Team operation which aims to make a competitive car available for a local driver on certain rounds of the 2008 IRC," says the Michelin Group's Competition Director Frederic Henry-Biabaud.
"This is not meant to be a young talent spotting operation. It is an initiative that seeks to promote the Intercontinental Rally Challenge and the BFGoodrich brand in countries where motor sport and rallying are popular," Henry-Biabaud explains. "Miguel Campos is 35 and combines the necessary experience, reliability and speed to get this operation off to a flying start."
BFGoodrich will truck 1,357 tyres to Portugal in four semi-trailers. Three BFGoodrich technicians will be in attendance to help and advise the brand's partners on tyre choices and re-cutting.
* Tyre patterns can be re-cut in the service park to enhance their ability to clear loose gravel and/or mud.
* Run-flat mousse is not permitted.
* Cars may carry two spare wheels/tyres.
BFGOODRICH DRIVERS TEAM
Five rounds of the 2008 Intercontinental Rally Challenge will see BFGoodrich and Kronos Racing join forces to give a selection of drivers a chance to contest their home round of the IRC in a Peugeot 207 S2000. The operation begins with the Rally de Portugal (May 8-10) with Miguel Campos, the first driver elected.
1,357 BFGOODRICH TYRES
BFGoodrich will truck 1,357 tyres to Portugal in four semi-trailers. Three BFGoodrich technicians will be in attendance to help and advise the brand's partners on tyre choices and 're-cutting'.
BFGOODRICH WINS IN CENTRAL EUROPE
BFGoodrich won the inaugural Central Europe Rally which was organised by ASO to replace the 2008 Dakar. After seven days of fierce competition in Hungary and Romania, the spoils went to Carlos Sainz (VW/BFGoodrich) ahead of St-phane Peterhansel (Mitsubishi/BFGoodrich). Going into the final day, the gap between the two was just 18 seconds! The BFGoodrich Rock T/A claimed 10 of the 12 stages.
After the first two rounds of the 2008 Portuguese championship (the Rally Torri- and the Rally FC Porto), BFGoodrich dominates the standings with Bruno Magalhaes (Peugeot Portugal), winner of both events.
BFGOODRICH WINS IN TUNISIA
The first round of the 2008 FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, the Rallye de Tunisie, was won by Dominique Housieaux et Jean Michel Polato (Buggy Schlesser) competing on BFGoodrich Rock T/A and Baja T/A tyres.
BFGOODRICH DRIVERS TEAM IN BELGIUM
After Portugal, the BFGoodrich Drivers Team operation will be run in Belgium which hosts the Rallye dÕYpres (June 27-28). The fortunate driver will be chosen on Wednesday May 28 and will get a chance to test the Peugeot 207 S2000 on June 18.
The fourth round of the 2008 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (July 11-12) is the Rally Russia which is based in Vyborg near the border with Finland. Its route will be almost identical to that of last year, although the service park has been switched to a new location. This will be the last dirt round before November's China Rally.
IRC SUPPORTER BFGOODRICH CHALLENGE
Two new fixtures have joined the list of events looking to join the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in 2009: the Rally Poland, the world's second-longest existing rally, and Hungary's BFGoodrich Veszprem Rally which takes place near the shores of Lake Balaton. BFGoodrich has decided to support the organisers of events looking to be part of the IRC by offering tyres to drivers in exchange for the payment of a small sum to the organisers.