Cyprus Rally: BFGoodrich preview

BFGoodrich, 22 years after... Prior to the start of the 2006 season, Cyprus was the only conventional European-style rally BFGoodrich tyres had won. That success dates back to 1984 when John Buffum and Fred Gallagher took their ...

BFGoodrich, 22 years after...

Prior to the start of the 2006 season, Cyprus was the only conventional European-style rally BFGoodrich tyres had won. That success dates back to 1984 when John Buffum and Fred Gallagher took their BFGoodrich Motorsport-entered Audi Quattro to top spot on the event which, at the time, counted as a qualifying round of the European Rally Championship. Twenty-two years later, BFGoodrich are back on the Mediterranean island to take on the challenge of its punishing, rock-strewn tracks.

With a personal score of 11 national ProRally/SCCA ProRally titles and 117 wins to his name in North America, John Buffum stands out as the most successful USA-based rally driver of all time. He was also the first American to win a round of the European Championship -- the Sachs Rally in 1983 -- before going on to repeat that performance a year later in Cyprus. John enjoyed success at WRC level too, notably claiming 5th place on the 1984 Acropolis Rally, 6th place on the 1983 RAC Rally and 3rd place on the 1988 Olympus Rally. He looks back here at his success with his BFGoodrich Motorsport Audi Quattro in Cyprus in 1984.

"After finishing 5th on the Acropolis Rally with my codriver Fred Gallagher, I believed a good result in Cyprus was possible because the terrain was practically identical. I have always enjoyed and gone well over the sort of rough and twisty tests you get there. On paper, the powerful, all-wheel drive Audi Quattro had a big advantage over the majority of its rivals of the day, such as the Opel Manta and the Lancia 037. However, the entry list was quite impressive, with Colin's father Jimmy McRae driving an Opel Manta, Carlo Capone with a Lancia 037 and Russel Brookes in another Opel, plus a number of other well known European names who were drawn by the event's top European Championship coefficient status.

"The 1984 Cyprus Rally took place at the end of September in searing heat and Fred and I did a lot of fitness training both before and during recce, although we still found time to sample the local produce, like the wine! Some people predicted that our standard BFGoodrich tyres would be a big handicap over the rough stages but I didn't agree given how well their open tread pattern had just performed in Greece.

"Despite an ignition problem, Fred and I led the rally from start to finish. After the final true stage, which was run high in the mountains, representatives of BFGoodrich drove preceded us down the highway back to Limassol, throwing out BFGoodrich stickers to the spectators who rushed to pick them up without taking any notice of the traffic. For us, it was the most dangerous part of the rally! The event ended with a quick dash round Limassol's horseracing course which preceded the podium ceremony. But for us, the rally didn't finish with prize-giving but much later in the night! I have very fond memories of the rally."

"The majority of the stages were run at night and hanging dust was a problem," recalls John Buffum's co-driver of the time, Fred Gallagher. "But that didn't stop us from leading from flag to flag. In one stage, we posted the fastest time more than a minute clear of the guy who came 2nd, yet our average speed was only 47kph! Although the stages were so rough, we didn't pick up a single puncture. Not bad for road tyres!"

THE CYPRUS RALLY SEEN BY? Aimé Chatard, Manager of BFGoodrich's Rallies Programme

"Compared with the average speeds of 120kph we saw in Finland, the average speed of the Cypriot stages is about 60kph! But that doesn't mean Cyprus is twice as easy. On the contrary, it is hell for tyres! The drivers spend most of the time using their car's torque to the full in 1st, 2nd and 3rd gears. That produces wheelspin which in turn leads to wear. So our priority in Cyprus is to combat wear and optimise traction.

"This year, the drivers are able to choose two types of tread pattern for hard-wearing rallies like Cyprus, but just one type will be authorised from 2007. For this year's event, BFGoodrich's driver partners have essentially chosen '9' (medium) and '9+' (hard) compound g-Force Gravels, plus either the g-Force Gravel H2 or the g-Force Gravel H1 for the second passes. The H2 is a new tyre which was used for the first time on the Acropolis Rally. It has since evolved, while the H1 gave good results in Greece in the hands of Sordo."


QUOTAS: All Priority 1 drivers had to nominate their tyres for Cyprus (a total of 65, 42 of which may be used) before September 11. Two types of tread pattern are authorised for the Cyprus Rally.

-credit: bfg

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers John Buffum , Jimmy McRae