Drivers will face more than 300 competitive kilometres, over 21 special stages.
Milan – Rally Sweden, based in Karlstad this weekend, is round two of the World Rally Championship and one of the toughest tests of the year for any tyre.
In order to tackle the specialised stages, which consist of layers of snow and ice on top of fast gravel tracks, drivers will rely on specially studded tyres that bite into the loose surface to generate grip.
In total there are 384 studs with Tungsten tips, protruding seven millimetres, which are locked into the tyre (preventing stud loss) in a unique vulcanisation process patented by Pirelli. The tyre comes in 205/65-15 size, so that it can be mounted on the same rim as used for gravel tyres: a compromise between the traditional narrow shape of a snow tyre and the dimensions of the gravel rim. Drivers will face more than 300 competitive kilometres, over 21 special stages.
This brings the Sottozero Ice even closer to Pirelli’s road car tyres, which all benefit from the lessons learned in competition. Unlike Pirelli’s other competition tyres, the Sottozero Ice has to cope with temperatures that often drop as low as minus 30 degrees centigrade.
Leading Pirelli drivers in Sweden
Pirelli is represented in all the classes, with highlights of the entry including Robert Kubica – the star of the Monte Carlo Rally – and Pirelli’s reigning WRC2 Production champion Max Rendina:
16 Robert Kubica/Maciek Szczepaniak (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)
17 Yuri Protasov/Pavlo Cherepin (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)
18 Michal Solowow/Maciek Baran (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)
21 Martin Prokop/Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)
33 Max Rendina/Mario Pizutti (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10)
37 Lorenzo Bertelli/Giovanni Bernacchini (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)
38 Anders Grondal/Roger Eilertsen (Citroen DS3 R5)
41 Valeriy Gorban/Volodymyr Korsia (MINI John Cooper Works S2000)
42 Oleksii Kikireshko/Kuldar Sikk (MINI John Cooper Works S2000)
44 Jaroslav Koltun/Ireneusz Pleskot (Ford Fiesta R5)
45 Gianluca Linari/Nicola Arena (Subaru Impreza)
81 Simone Tempestini/Matteo Chiarcossi (Subaru Impreza)
85 Joan Font/Oriol Julia (Mitsubishi Lancer)
The tyres available and the rules
The WRC and WRC2 drivers are allowed 28 tyres for the whole rally under the latest regulations. Only one type of tyre is allowed for Sweden. Pirelli will bring the studded Sottozero Ice tyre, specially developed for the snow and ice conditions. Rally Sweden is the only outing for this tyre all year.
Matteo Braga, Pirelli senior tyre engineer: “After an exciting start to the season in Monte Carlo, where Robert Kubica put in a stunning performance to win four stages, we’re hoping for more success in Sweden. The Sottozero Ice tyres have been developed specifically to offer complete control even on the most slippery surfaces, and thanks to our patented production process, the 380 studs remain in place over the entire length of the stage, giving the drivers better consistency of grip and therefore confidence. As always, there is the risk of warm weather making driving conditions difficult, due to a lack of snow, but even in these conditions the Sottozero Ice has proved to be very effective, as we have seen already.”