BFGoodrich claims its first WRC victory! * Marcus Gronholm and Timo Rautiainen (Ford/BFGoodrich) collect their first Monte win and put Ford back on top of the rallying world * BFGoodrich marks its WRC debut by monopolising...
BFGoodrich claims its first WRC victory!
* Marcus Gronholm and Timo Rautiainen (Ford/BFGoodrich) collect their first Monte win and put Ford back on top of the rallying world
* BFGoodrich marks its WRC debut by monopolising the podium... with three different partners
After years chasing after his first ever asphalt win, the two-time World Champion Marcus Gronholm finally succeeded in achieving that feat on probably the most complex sealed surface round of them all, the legend ry Monte Carlo Rally. The two-time World Champion finished clear of the triple Monte winner Sebastien Loeb (Citroen/BFGoodrich) and fellow-Finn Toni Gardemeister (Peugeot/BFGoodrich) who was once again a strong contender in the Alps of southern France.
The 2006 Monte Carlo Rally was marked by extremely taxing conditions which constantly switched from dry to wet and frequent patches of ice, with some snowy portions. Tyre choices, which were made at service in Monaco for groups of three stages at a time, were consequently both difficult to call and decisive. Subaru's Petter Solberg lost all hope of victory, for example, when he made a poor choice for Friday's opening group of stages before being sidelined for good by engine trouble at the end of Leg 1.
The same group of stages saw Sebastien Loeb (Citroen/BFGoodrich) make a judicious tyre choice (half-studded g-Force Winters). The Frenchman then went on to build up a gap of 1m 16s over his closest chaser but was then caught out by one of the event's countless hazards on SS6. He resumed Leg 2 in 8th position and eventually fought back to collect 2nd place at the finish thanks in part to a series of six consecutive fastest times.
Marcus Gronholm (Ford BP WRT/BFGOODRICH): This has been the toughest Monte Carlo Rally I have done but I don't think we were ever wide of the mark when it came to tyre choice. Perhaps on the first day I could have opted for half-studded 'Winters', but that's easy to say afterwards. It was tight all the way to the finish because we had to start the last stage with a flat tyre. Thankfully, the run-flat mousse worked perfectly. I am very happy for the Ford team and for BFGoodrich who gave me a very competitive package for this rally."
Aime Chatard (BFGOODRICH Rallies Programme Manager): "I would put this event in the 'very difficult'category. The conditions were delicate from start to finish. Despite Gronholm's handsome cushion, the leaderboard could have been turned on its head because of the tough tyre choice drivers had to make for the final loop. Manfred Stohl's time shows that the g-Force Profiler 0 was the right choice."
g-Force Winter: specifically developed for the Monte Carlo Rally. Features a siped tread pattern and modular studding (0, 1 or 2 rows of studs according to conditions). This tyre was used by Loeb on Friday morning and by the majority of BFGoodrich runners (half-studded option) on Sunday.
g-Force Profiler Dry: for dry asphalt. Its tread pattern can be re-cut in case of damp conditions. It is also available in a choice of compounds (very soft, soft, medium). This was the tyre chosen by the majority of BFGoodrich runners for Leg 2 and by Stohl (soft compound) for the last part of the rally.
Col du Turini (31 km) / Loeb: a time of 24 minutes. BFGoodrich's ice-note crew: 1 hour! A big bravo to BFGoodrich two ice-note crews who noted the 366km of stages in minute detail in what proved to be extremely delicate conditions. For the first time, a new computerised system was used to transmit the data they collected from the stages to the firm's technicians back at service.
-3C to +3C
It's in this range of ground temperatures that tyre choice is the most delicate on this event. Any colder, and the Winter tyre stands out as the obvious choice. Any warmer, and the Profiler tends to take over. However, the three days of competition basically took place in this difficult range of temperatures.
100 times longer
It is estimated that the time spent preparing the Monte Carlo Rally represented a hundred times the total time spent on the stages by the winner, that is to say more than 400 hours. This includes preparation of the individual tyre loads, loading the trucks (2,000 tyres), fitting the tyres to the rims, the work of the ice-note crews, etc, etc..).
For the Swedish Rally, BFGoodrich's partner teams will use the g-Force Ice (380 studs per tyre) which was tested in December. Meanwhile, the BFGoodrich containers loaded with g-Force Gravel tyres for Mexico have already set sail.
Next round: Swedish Rally (February 3rd-5th)