Acropolis Rally: BFGoodrich preview

With the new g-Force Gravel H2, BFGoodrich makes Hercules' dream come true! The Acropolis Rally marks the midpoint of the 2006 World Rally Championship which has so far been dominated by the partners of BFGoodrich. This weekend sees the American...

With the new g-Force Gravel H2, BFGoodrich makes Hercules' dream come true!

The Acropolis Rally marks the midpoint of the 2006 World Rally Championship which has so far been dominated by the partners of BFGoodrich. This weekend sees the American tyre brand launch the new, stronger g-Force Gravel H2 which has been designed and developed to take Greece's notoriously punishing tracks head on.

For this weekend's visit to the land of the Gods, it was only normal that BFGoodrich should seek to produce a tyre worthy of the heroes of antiquity and capable of soaking up the terrible punishment dished out by the Hellenic tracks. The g-Force Gravel H2 is born!

The 53rd Acropolis Rally has traded its former base in Lamia for new headquarters near Athens and the Corinthian Gulf. While certain stages on this year's menu used to be used some years ago, others are totally new. The recce visit of BFGoodrich's engineers and technicians to the region confirmed that these tests are particularly rough and hard-wearing, and the long Kineta stage (37.33km) promises to be particularly challenging. For when drivers cover a series of short tests, they are able to see how much their tyres wear for themselves between each stage and can then take this into account in the way they drive. On long stages, however, they have no means of knowing how much their tyres have worn at any given moment.

"This has led us to develop the g-Force Gravel H2, the first 100% BFGoodrich tyre," says BFGoodrich's Rallies Programme Manager Aime Chatard. "We lacked an extremely strong a product in our WRC range for second attempts at stages. That was confirmed recently in Sardinia where we were close to the limit in terms of wear after the afternoon loops which were marked by swept-clean tracks and higher temperatures. The times show that there was a marked increase in pace between the first and second runs. and that led to even more wear."

The g-Force Gravel H2 is an all-new tyre . with a new construction, a new tread design and new compounds . and the results of testing in Sardinia and Greece were particularly encouraging. "We noted a 15 - 20% gain in resistance to wear with no significant fall-off in performance, which is something you always fear when you improve the strength of a tyre. It shouldn't be forgotten, however, that we are talking about testing here. What you find in the heat of the action on the event itself can be very different," adds Aime Chatard. "Also, this tyre is designed for "clean" surfaces, and not for clearing aside a loose top coating." June 2-4, 2006

In parallel to the g-Force Gravel H2, BFGoodrich will also have the g-Force Gravel H1 which is a wider version of the familiar g-Force Gravel and some drivers have preferred to nominate this option for Greece. "There are two ways of looking at it. The H2 is an allnew product which prepares the way for 2007. We have profited from this year's Acropolis Rally, which this year permits two types of tread pattern, to make it available to our drivers. Our objective is to look ahead to 2007 when just one type of pattern may only be permitted for rough rounds. The H1 is an evolution of the g-Force Gravel as seen in Sardinia and is a short term project that takes onboard our findings with the H2. It is likely to disappear from the range quite soon."


Sebastien Loeb's co-driver and record holder for the highest number of WRC wins for a co-driver

"Tyres are a key part of every rally. Although final tyre choices are always down to the driver, it's the co-driver who checks and inspects the tyres before and after every stage. Before the start, I adjust the tyre pressures to the values recommended by the BFGoodrich technician who works with the Kronos team. It's an important job. At the same time I quickly inspect the condition of each tyre to see if there's perhaps a cut, or even a puncture which, with the mousse system we use, you don't always notice. At the end of every stage, I check the pressures again and pass on the information to our engineers. Finally, Seb and I swap the front and rear tyres between stages. In addition to calling out the notes and looking after time-keeping, tyres are the biggest part of my job as a co-driver."


QUOTA. Manufacturer 1 and 2 entered drivers have a total quota of 65 tyres each, 40 of which may be used during the event (including shakedown). Two types of tread pattern are authorised. Tyres had to be nominated by Wednesday May 24 and were immediately loaded onto the trucks that had just returned from Sardinia.

TWO SPARE WHEELS... The Acropolis Rally is an exception inasmuch as it authorises two spare wheels to be carried. This represents an additional weight of around 20kg (not included in the minimum weight), and that can change the handing of the car. as well as the driver's feeling at the wheel!


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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Sébastien Loeb
Teams Citroën World Rally Team