Pirelli's Hard Compound Scorpion Tyres Ready for Antipodean Challenge
From the warm weather of Germany, the World Rally Championship crews now travel to New Zealand, where conditions will be almost wintry. It is a dramatic change of scene and also another change of tyre: the hard compound Pirelli Scorpion rubber, seen on several occasions earlier in the year, makes a return.
Milan, 23 August 2008 - New Zealand has become one of the classic events on the FIA World Rally Championship, and the competing crews there will have to face conditions that are practically the polar opposite of what they experienced a couple of weeks ago in Germany. Having had three days of warm weather on the Rallye Deutschland, next up is the distinctly chillier climate around Hamilton: the base for Rally New Zealand.
In Germany the cars were running on PZero asphalt tyres, whereas in New Zealand the crews will use Pirelli Scorpion rubber for hard gravel - which has already been seen many times earlier this year since making its debut on the Rally Mexico. The road surfaces in New Zealand are quicker and less abrasive than those of Greece or Italy, for example, but this does not make them any less demanding. These rollercoaster stages represent yet another big challenge for Pirelli's covers, which have shown themselves to be extremely tough so far this year. In fact there have been very few punctures, and the Italian rubber is now renowned for its resistance to sharp rocks and impacts.
A major talking point has been the return of Francois Duval to asphalt rallying in New Zealand. The Belgian driver is standing in for the injured Gigi Galli at the wheel of the Stobart team's Pirelli-equipped Ford Focus WRC. The last gravel event that Duval took part in on the other side of the world resulted in a victory, which he celebrated on the 2005 Rally Australia. Francois is then scheduled to drive the second factory Ford Focus WRC alongside Mikko Hirvonen in Spain and in Corsica.
Pirelli's Rally Manager Mario Isola commented: "Rally New Zealand is shaping up to be another fascinating event, thanks to the characteristics of the route - made up of fast and flowing stages - and the vagaries of the weather. We can expect temperatures of between eight and 14 degrees Centigrade, plus the risk of rain on some stages.
The hard compound Scorpion tyres have already been extremely competitive on several occasions up to now, and I am sure that they will underline their capabilities once more on the stages around Hamilton. This was certainly the case for the PZero tyres in Germany, which allowed drivers to set quicker times than they had managed in 2007 - when we had development tyres and anti-deflation mousse."