WRC

Rally Australia: BFGoodrich preview

The WRC stars rub shoulders with the roos, but nothing's in the pocket yet! After the mud of Turkey, it's a challenge of a different nature that awaits BFGoodrich in Australia. Over this event's high-speed tracks, the mission of the g-Force Gravel...

The WRC stars rub shoulders with the roos, but nothing's in the pocket yet! After the mud of Turkey, it's a challenge of a different nature that awaits BFGoodrich in Australia. Over this event's high-speed tracks, the mission of the g-Force Gravel tyres will be to provide maximum grip and traction on the top-coating of marble-like bauxite stones that covers the stages.

Once again, BFGoodrich's 'cutters' will have plenty of work in store to prepare tyres for the eight BFGoodrich-shod WRC cars and ensure that their tread patterns match the conditions of the day as closely as possible. Billed as the third and last hard-wearing gravel round of the 2006 campaign, the Rally of Turkey ended up being the 'softest' encounter of the year after repeated downpours turned the Antalya region's stages into highly slippery mud-baths.

For the tyres, the objective was no longer to stand up to the punishing terrain but to clear as much mud and water from under the wheels as possible. Re-cutting of the tread patterns, which is done by hand and at the last possible moment at service, played a key role in the end result. 'Re -cutting' will be just as vital in Australia, but not to clear mud (the forecasts predict mild springtime weather) but to clear the countless marble-like stones that carpet the forest tracks of Western Australia. "Australia is an atypical rally," says BFGoodrich's Rally Programmes Manager Aime Chatard . "The fast, narrow, eucalyptus tree-lined stages demand extreme precision and good lateral bite from the tyres. These round stones also make the surface unstable, with little grip. The regulations do not permit on-site testing and it's impossible to find similar conditions in Europe. To complicate matters further, a single type of tread pattern is authorised. For mechanical grip, we therefore need to 're -cut' the tyres, i.e. add extra grooves to increase the space between the tread blocks as a function of the depth of the top layer."

Up-to-date information concerning the conditions is relayed by BFGoodrich's own route observers who cover the stages before the rally cars pass. However, because of the timing, BFGoodrich's crews have to judge the state of the stages in darkness, which hardly facilitates their job. Western Australia's capital Perth is this year hosting a round of the WRC for the eighteenth and last time. The Rally Australia does not figure on the 2007 calendar, although it could be back in 2008 organised in Queensland. That said, this year's event could well prove decisive in the outcome of the 2006 titles as it has so often done in the past.

BFGOODRICH AND THE RALLY AUSTRALIA

g-Force Gravel g-Force Gravel '9' medium compound (for temperatures between 15 and 25DEGC). The 'basic' choice. The '9-' variant is slight softer. g-Force Gravel '9+' hard compound (hard ground and/or high temperatures). A 'safe' option. g-Force Gravel '8' soft compound (damp conditions, low temperatures). A 'safe' option. Size: 215/70 R15 The fight for the Constructors' crown promises to be as fierce as ever between BP-Ford WRT/BFGoodrich and its all-Finnish line-up of Groenholm (three wins) and Hirvonen (two previous participations) and Kronos Total Citroen's two Spaniards Dani Sordo (first visit) and Xevi Pons (three participations). On the Drivers' front, Marcus Groenholm will be looking for a win to close the gap with Loeb. However, with the Frenchman still absent through injury, the Finn will have to run first on the road on Day 1, something that is never easy here in Australia.

-credit: bfgoodrich

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About this article
Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team