IRC: BFGoodrich Rallye Sanremo preview

BFGoodrich to celebrate Sanremo's 50th! Following its dropping from the WRC in 2004, the 50th edition of the legendary Rallye Sanremo will take place within the framework of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. In the course of its ...

BFGoodrich to celebrate Sanremo's 50th!

Following its dropping from the WRC in 2004, the 50th edition of the legendary Rallye Sanremo will take place within the framework of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. In the course of its glittering history, the Italian fixture has been the scene of many landmark moments at both world class and national levels, from the Lancia era to Miki Biasion's title-winning year, and from the Peugeot 'affair' to Michele Mouton's triumph in 1981. Tyre brand BFGoodrich, which will have many partners in action this weekend, and which has also entered a Peugeot 207 S2000 in the colours of the BFGoodrich Drivers Team, is proud to be a major player of the 50th Rallye Sanremo.

Every year, rallying enthusiasts and professionals ask the same question: what is it about the Rallye Sanremo that we like so much? The quaint charm of the Italian Riviera resort? Its pleasant autumn weather? Its bustling streets? Its majestic casino? Its belle epoque hotels? Or perhaps the truffle pasta served at the Il Toscano restaurant, the aroma of Dall'ava olive oil... or the smell of castor oil on such classic stages as Monte Ceppo, Bajardo, San Romolo or Colla di Langan?

This year, one of its main draws is undoubtedly its route, and above all Thursday evening's night-time loop, the awesome 59.99km Ronde test, a metre shy of 60km in order to stay on the correct side of the regulations. The first car is due to start this great stage at one minute before 11pm...

"It promises to be an unforgettable experience for the drivers," enthuses BFGoodrich's IRC Programme manager Jacques Morelli. "A big bravo to the Sanremo organisers. Long, selective stages like this are a sign of how the IRC is returning to the sport's roots. That said, it won't be an easy stage for us. The prospect of tackling 60km on such abrasive asphalt without interruption, with the likelihood of damp portions under the trees, promises to be a major challenge, but we accept it gladly!"

The 2007 event saw BFGoodrich's partners pull out a decisive advantage over their rivals over the night-time loop which was a 'mere' 44km long twelve months ago. "The durability of the soft compound g-Force Profiler A01 enabled Luca Rossetti and Giandomenico Basso to pull out a gap ahead, while Vouilloz moved up five positions overall," recalls Jacques Morelli. "The second leg then saw the hard compound g-Force Profiler enable BFGoodrich runners to secure the top four places overall at the finish."

This time round, BFGoodrich's partners will have four types of tyre available: the soft compound A03 (which won in Belgium in the hands of Loix), the hard compound A11, which took the spoils in Madeira and the Czech Republic, the M01 intermediate tyre (winner in Spain) and the W00 which is always competitive in the wet.

The Rallye Sanremo could well decide the IRC title chases, and will most probably serve to settle the outcome in the Italian Championship. A win for Luca Rossetti this weekend would hand him his first national crown and also rekindle his chances in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, towards which each driver's best seven results count at the end of the year. Nicolas Vouilloz is in a strong position, but Rossetti, Loix and Basso will all need to start discounting results. In the Manufacturers' championship, on the other hand, it seems very likely that Peugeot will retain the trophy for a second year.

50th Rallye Sanremo

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

g-Force Profiler A11
Size: 225/40-18 (hard compound)
Use: dry asphalt, medium or high temperatures

g-Force Profiler M01
Size: 225/40-18 (soft compound)
Use: damp or wet asphalt

g-Force Profiler W00
Size: 225/40-18 (soft compound)
Utilisation: damp or wet asphalt


BFGoodrich will take some 1,500 to Sanremo for this weekend's encounter (1,482 to be exact). They will travel from Clermont-Ferrand (France) in a fleet of three semi-trailers, to which the firm's Italian distributor will add another two trucks. Two new g-Force Profiler dry weather tyres will be introduced this weekend in readiness for the 2009 season: the very soft compound g-Force Profiler 110F and the hard compound 50L.

The Rallye Sanremo's stages are probably the most abrasive of the IRC calendar, and consequently the hardest-wearing for the tyres. The drivers will have to pay especially close attention to wear over the long 60km stage and select their tyre pressures very carefully. The BFGoodrich technicians promise to play a particularly key role in this domain.

Following its win in Spain, the factory Abarth team wants to give itself the best possible chance of scoring further success in Sanremo. A test session was organised earlier in September with a BFGoodrich technician in attendance with a view to testing the Abarth Grande Punto with different setups on g-Force Profiler tyres.

The 1994 World Champion Didier Auriol, who is also the joint record holder for the highest number of Sanremo wins (three), could hardly stay away from the 50th edition of the Italian even. He will share an Abarth Grande Punto S2000 with Denis Giraudet. Their last Sanremo participation dates back to 2003 (12th, Seat Cordoba WRC).

The last European round of the 2008 IRC calendar is Switzerland's Rallye du Valais (October 23-25) which features stages near Martigny and Sion. As in 2007, the event's mountain roads, on which frost is always a possibility, could well prove decisive in the Drivers' championship.


The fifth and final phase of the 2008 BFGoodrich Drivers Team operation has been extremely successful to date, with no fewer than 133 applications received by Italy's motor sport governing body. Andrea Torlasco, 24, was finally nominated to drive the Peugeot 207 S2000 on the 50th edition Rallye Sanremo. Andrea started rallying in a Renault Clio Williams as soon as he was old enough to have a licence. He has remained loyal to the French make since and has successively campaigned a Group N Clio RS, a Clio R3 and, this year, a Clio S1600 on Italian events. In 2005, Andrea finished second in his country's 2WD asphalt Group N Cup. This season, he has notably made a name for himself by winning the two-wheel drive category and coming 10th overall on the Rally Mille Miglia.


Once again, the Italian championship has produced a gripping battle, not only between the teams and drivers, but also between tyre firms. Last year saw the crown go to Basso and BFGoodrich. This year, Luca Rossetti and BFGoodrich enjoy a clear lead going into the Sanremo, the penultimate clash of the series which began in March. The first two rounds (Ciocco, San Marino) were won by Piero Longhi (Subaru/BFGoodrich), but the Team Aimont drivers - Longhi and Aghini - have since suffered and both retired again recently in Sardinia. Paolo Andreucci (Mitsubishi) has won three events. However, thanks to a score of two wins and eight podium finishes from eight, Luca Rossetti currently enjoys a 17-point lead over Andreucci.

-credit: bfg

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Didier Auriol , Miki Biasion , Denis Giraudet , Nicolas Vouilloz , Michèle Mouton , Luca Rossetti , Paolo Andreucci , Piero Longhi , Giandomenico Basso
Teams Williams