Sebastien Loeb, his co-driver Daniel Elena, the Kronos Total Citroen team and BFGoodrich tyres earned themselves a place in the Rallye de France-Tour de Corse record books today by claiming victory in the 50th running of the Mediterranean ...
Sebastien Loeb, his co-driver Daniel Elena, the Kronos Total Citroen team and BFGoodrich tyres earned themselves a place in the Rallye de France-Tour de Corse record books today by claiming victory in the 50th running of the Mediterranean island classic. As in Spain a fortnight ago, Marcus Gronholm and Dani Sordo joined the Frenchman on the all-BFGoodrich podium. The result also means that BFGoodrich tyres have now won every round of the 2006 World Championship organised so far.
Two weeks after Sebastien Loeb's win in Catalunya, Corsica was Marcus Gronholm's chance for revenge and the early part of the rally was effectively an extremely close contest between the two former World Champions. But in the end, the Frenchman was able to pull irresistibly clear with every stage, extending his 20-second lead after Day 1 to 40 seconds by Saturday evening before controlling his rival from in front. Indeed, Loeb was in imperial form throughout the weekend in Corsica.
As in Spain, Marcus Gronholm (Ford/BFGoodrich) was forced to settle for 2nd spot which hands him eight additional Drivers'championship points. Meanwhile, a breathtaking scrap developed in his wake for 3rd place between Citroen/BFGoodrich's Spaniards Dani Sordo and Xevi Pons, Finland's Mikko Hirvonen (Ford/BFGoodrich) and rising Frenchman Alexandre Bengue (Peugeot/BFGoodrich).
Although Bengue succeeded in finishing Leg 1 on the podium with his privately-entered Peugeot 307 WRC, Spanish youngster Dani Sordo profited from a perfect run over the tighter and twistier roads of the Cinarca region north of Ajaccio to steal provisional 3rd. A score of one fastest time and three second-bests from a possible four put him clear of Hirvonen who also enjoyed a good second day.
After securing his first WRC podium finish on home ground at the end of March, Sordo (Citroen/BFGoodrich) went on to collect a second bronze medal this afternoon in Corsica.
While six BFGoodrich runners monopolised the top six places in Catalunya, seven BFGoodrich drivers finished inside the top-seven in the French round. The g-Force Profiler has effectively dominated all the asphalt encounters of the early part of 2006 and has helped the firm's factory and privately-entered partners to figure consistently at the sharp end of the leaderboard. Until the WRC's next port of call on sealed surfaces in Germany in August, the series returns to gravel in Argentina where Petter Solberg is likely to join Sebastien Loeb and Marcus Gronholm in the fight for supremacy.
Sebastien Loeb (Kronos Total Citroen/BFGOODRICH): "This year's Tour de Corse wasn't easy. First of all, I had to push very hard to keep Marcus Gronholm at bay. Secondly, I had to make sure I made the most of the tyre package I selected for this weekend's event. I chose it with the thought that the weather could have been a little poorer, but in the end it proved hot and sunny throughout. Even so, my BFGoodrich tyres were once again competitive and durable, especially during the first loop on Saturday for which I voluntarily chose a slightly softer compound in order to save my stock of medium compound tyres. That choice even enabled me to claim the best time over the most aggressive stage of the rally [Vico, 34km]."
Aime Chatard (Manager of BFGoodrich's Rallies Programme): "We always feared the trip to Corsica because it really is the toughest event of the year for tyres. Tyres for the asphalt of the island have to stand up to higher constraints than their counterparts in any other form of motor sport. At the end of the long 34km stage, you could see by their faces just how drained the drivers were by the effort they had to produce. Well it's exactly the same for the tyres. When analysing their 'marks', temperature (more than 120C) and pressure, BFGoodrich technicians are able to get a very accurate picture of how much the tyres suffer. And in Corsica, they suffered very much!"
BFGoodrich g-Force Profiler '2' and '2+': BFGoodrich runners principally used the medium compound (2) g-Force Profiler for the morning loops and the harder compound (2+) g-Force Profiler for the afternoon when temperatures were higher. Drivers registered for the Manufacturer 1 & 2 championships had to nominate their tyres on the Monday prior to the start when the weather forecasts were talking in terms of unsettled weather. This led certain drivers to take the possibility of damper conditions into consideration and they consequently had to manage their tyre stocks with extremely care.
FOUR CORNERS... The Tour of Corsica is the most demanding asphalt rally for tyres which are exposed to enormous constraints from the start to finish of every stage. A 'sports' road tyre, of whatever brand, but of the same dimension (225/40x18), would stop responding to the driver's instructions via the wheel after only four corners if it was run on a WRC car in Corsica! The amount of roll would be such that the driver's only option would be to slow down. The g-Force Profiler used in rallying allows the WRC drivers to cover 60km of stages at full song!
EXTREMELY USEFUL MOUSSE! Thanks to the mousse insert fitted between the rim and the tyre of WRC tyres, Sebastien Loeb was able to win Stages 1 and 7 despite picking up a puncture on both occasions.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DIFFERENTIALS... BFGoodrich technicians did not note any abnormal wear this year on the cars fitted with passive differentials on the first runs through the stages. In the more soiled conditions of the second runs, however, the rate of wear recorded was a little higher than in 2005.
A BIG BRAVO TOO... to the production g-Force Profiler tyres that the WRC drivers used - and appreciated - during their recce for this year's Tour de Corse. This work in the wings also played its part in the final result.
JWRC... Victory for Frenchman Brice Tirabassi (Citroen C2) in the Junior World Rally Championship ahead of Umo Aava (Suzuki). BFGoodrich is a partner of the JWRC.