2001 World Rally Championship Round 14: Rally Great Britain (November 22nd Â 25th 2001) Who could wish for a more thrilling finale?! This time twelve months ago, Peugeot and Marcus GrÃ¶nholm were crowned 2000 World Champions and took...
2001 World Rally Championship
Round 14: Rally Great Britain (November 22nd 25th 2001)
Who could wish for a more thrilling finale?!
This time twelve months ago, Peugeot and Marcus Grönholm were crowned 2000 World Champions and took Michelin's title tally to a total of 30 (a record) Tsince the creation of the series in 1979. Going into Rally GB, the French tyre company's partners are once again in the thick of what promises to be an unforgettable finale to the 2001 Manufacturers' and Drivers' championships. With one round remaining, Peugeot-Michelin leads the Manufacturers' series after moving ahead in Australia, while Tommi Mäkinen (Mitsubishi-Michelin) who has led practically all year is one of three men bunched within just two points at the top of the Drivers' table. Spectators in the Welsh forests are in for the treat of their lives!
But whichever way this titanic showdown turns, Michelin has every reason to be satisfied with the way its 2001 season has gone.
Its tyres have finished first in no less than nine of the thirteen rounds run to date and have won over all the types of terrain encountered during the year, from snow, ice and tarmac to smooth gravel and the (very) rough tracks of the legendary Safari Rally (see page 2). On top of that, these nine wins have been the work of six different drivers and three different manufacturers, an eloquent pointer to the quality of the relationship between Michelin's specialists and its WRC partners.
Success on all types of terrain (Michelin's 9 wins so far in 2001)
Asphalt (3 wins from 3) : Another 100% success rate on asphalt for Michelin, its third consecutive grand slam on this type of surface where the huge constraints demand a finely-tuned tyre/suspension package. In the course of the year's three asphalt rounds, only five stage wins escaped the French firm's partners who monopolised the podium each time. Meanwhile, the Michelin N 'FP', the World Championship's most sophisticated asphalt tyre, remains unbeaten since its launch in October 1998.
Catalonia: 1st, Auriol/Giraudet (Peugeot-Michelin)
Sanremo: 1st, Panizzi/Panizzi (Peugeot-Michelin)
Corsica: 1st, Puras/Marty (Citroën-Michelin)
Wintry conditions (2 wins from 2): Michelin products once again proved the benchmark tyres in the frequently complex conditions of the year's two winter rounds. In the French Alps, Michelin's perfectly tailored range helped Tommi Mäkinen clinch a third consecutive Monte Carlo win. Three weeks later, as the thermometer dipped to minus 25°C, Harri Rovanperä profited from the quality of the bond between his studs and his Michelin tyres to record the firm's 20th Swedish win in 22 years!
Monte Carlo: 1st, Mäkinen/Mannisenmäki (Mitsubishi-Michelin)
Sweden: 1st, Rovanperä/Pietilainen (Peugeot-Michelin)
Smooth gravel (3 wins from 5): From the mud of Portugal and Finland's high-speed roller-coaster to the celebrated 'marbles' of Australia, Michelin tyres once again proved their all-round qualities to collect three wins from the five 'smooth gravel' rounds run so far. Two regrets: the importance of the role played by stage start order and tactical games in New Zealand and the problems that all too quickly eliminated Michelin's partners from the battle for first place in Argentina.
Portugal: 1st, Mäkinen/Mannisenmäki (Mitsubishi-Michelin)
Argentina: 1st, McRae/Grist (Ford)
Finland: 1st, Grönholm/Rautiainen (Peugeot-Michelin)
New Zealand: 1st, Burns/Reid (Subaru)
Australia: 1st, Grönholm/Rautiainen (Peugeot-Michelin)
Rough gravel (1 win from 3): Michelin's emphatic one-two-three in Kenya, its 7th Safari win in 10 years, was a particularly satisfying result for the firm's development staff for whom the African round was one of the season's priorities. The latest evolution of the Michelin Z19 proved a winning blend of performance and strength, while the Michelin run-flat ATS system stood up perfectly to the event's hostile terrain, sustained high speeds and searing heat. After its one-twos in Cyprus and Greece on Michelin tyres in 2000, Ford was back in its winning ways on these two events, although Michelin obviously regretted the premature retirements of its main victory candidates both times.
Cyprus: 1st, McRae/Grist (Ford)
Acropolis: 1st, McRae/Grist (Ford)
Safari: 1st, Mäkinen/Mannisenmäki (Mitsubishi-Michelin)
Tyres and the World Rally Championship
Like any tyre (car, truck,...), a World Rally Championship tyre has to fulfil a certain number of functions: grip, absorb, steer, transmit, resist. To be competitive, it must of course combine all these roles. However, the specificity of each round tends to put the spotlight on one or sometimes two of these functions.