All the WRC roads lead to the 'Second Rome' After the new record for the highest number of wins on the same rally set by Marcus Gronholm earlier in the month in Finland, this weekend could well see Sebastien Loeb established a new benchmark for...
All the WRC roads lead to the 'Second Rome'
After the new record for the highest number of wins on the same rally set by Marcus Gronholm earlier in the month in Finland, this weekend could well see Sebastien Loeb established a new benchmark for the highest number of consecutive wins on the same WRC event. The Citroen C4 WRC/BFGoodrich driver stands to make it six in a row in Germany, an event on which tyre choices are traditionally difficult owing to the often changeable weather encountered on the banks of the Mosel River and in the Hunsruck and Saarland regions.
Since 180 A.D., the Porta Nigra, the landmark monument in the centre of Trier - the 'Second Rome' -, has been visited by the famous and infamous, from Constantine to Charlemagne, from the army of Attila the Hun to that of Napoleon Bonaparte, and from Karl Marx and his theories to Sebastien Loeb and his Citroen. Over the years, emperors, kings, barbarians, philosophers and sportsmen have all passed by this monument whose black stones have been weathered by the centuries.
The weather? Now that's a topic that promises to be on everybody's lips this weekend. Ever since the Rallye Deutschland joined the WRC in 2002, rain has played an important role on this event, making tyre choices difficult, at best, or occasionally a gamble.
"This event can be really complex," says Patrick Letort, BFGoodrich Chief Technician. "The weather has always tended to be quite unstable in the valleys of this region. At the service park in Trier, the drivers have to choose tyres for groups of three or four stages at a time. In the course of the same, loop, certain stages can be perfectly dry while others take place in pouring rain, depending on where the storms break out. Tyre choices are as difficult in Germany as they are on the Monte Carlo Rally and they have always influenced the final outcome to a greater or lesser degree."
In 2006, a bold tyre choice on the opening leg helped Sebastien Loeb lay the foundations for his fifth Rallye Deutschland success. Michel Ducher, the BFGoodrich technician delegated to work with Citroen and who participated in the decision, recalls: "The weather experts predicted the possibility of showers on Friday morning's three stages even though the roads were completely dry as the cars pulled out of service. We opted for the '0+' compound g-Force Profiler, a soft compound dry weather tyre which functions at its ideal temperature in the wet. The rain arrived as forecast and the end of the day saw three Citroens in the top three places: Loeb, Sordo and Gardemeister
On this event which calls for spot-on tyre choices and precision driving over the three different stage types (narrow roads in the Mosel vineyards, wider and dirtier tracks across the Baumholder army ranges and fast roads through the Saarland forests), Sebastien Loeb has gone unbeaten ever since his first participation in the event. Citroen, too, has yet to be beaten on the Rallye Deutschland since it was first organised in 2001.
QUOTA: Priority 1 drivers have a maximum quota of 60 tyres, of which they will be able to use up to 43 (rally + shakedown). These tyres will be registered with the FIA on August 13.
THREE RALLIES IN ONE: The ADAC Rallye Deutschland, which first counted towards the WRC calendar in 2002, is the result of a merger between three former rounds of the German national championship: the Deutschland Rally, the Hunsruck Rally and the Saarland Rally. It consequently features three distinct types of stages, from the narrow lanes that criss-cross the steep Mosel valley vineyards, the soiled, aggressive asphalt of the wide Baumholder tank tracks and, lastly, the flowing stages through the valleys and forests of the Saarland.
A WIDE RANGE OF TYRES: The combination of these very different stage profiles and the often fickle weather conditions dictate a relatively broad range of tyres to cover all eventualities. The week before the start, however, drivers must nominate a list of 60 tyres, that is to say they must select the quantity of soft, mediumsoft and medium compound dry weather tyres and wet weather tyres from which they will be able to choose during the event. Of these, they will only be authorised to use 43 (rally + shakedown).
ASPHALT PREDOMINANT: The final part of the championship places the accent on asphalt events with a total of four sealed surface events from seven (Germany, Spain, Corsica and Ireland). WRC drivers haven't competed on asphalt since last January's Monte Carlo Rally. BFGoodrich tyres are unbeaten on asphalt.
COMEBACKS: Belgium's Francois Duval will drive the second OMV Kronos Xsara WRC/BFGoodrich on this event on which he has always been very competitive. He has been nominated as eligible to score Manufacturers' points. After missing his home event, Finland's Toni Gardemeister will also be back in action in Germany, at the wheel of the PH Sport-run Xsara WRC/BFGoodrich.
THE INFORMATION GAME: The teams' weather experts, safety crews and BFGoodrich's own route observers will have their work cut out for them this weekend as they attempt to predict how the weather and conditions are likely to turn. Certain stages are located up to 100km from the service park in Trier.
REMOTE SERVICE ZONE. An additional, scaled-down service park will be organised in Konken during the second day. Only 12 tyres per driver can be taken from the main service park to the 'Remote Service Zone'.