Pirelli PZero Tyres Face Up to the Challenge of Corsica
Coming just a few days after the end of the Catalunya Rally in Spain, the next round of the World Rally Championship takes place in Corsica, with the Rally de France-Tour de Corse. This event has always been a landmark in the history of the WRC series, and it is notoriously tough on tyres. The event takes place on abrasive, narrow and sinuous roads that push the rubber to its limits. Nonetheless, Corsica has always been kind to Pirelli: all the victories that have fallen to Scandinavian drivers on the island (two wins for Markku Alen and one for Petter Solberg) have been achieved on the Italian covers.
Ajaccio, 7 October 2008 - Even though the Catalunya Rally has only just ended, the World Rally Championship is still high up the sporting agenda, with the Rally de France-Tour de Corse taking place this weekend on the mountain roads around Ajaccio. The French round of the World Rally Championship - which is also the final asphalt event of the season - will present an extreme challenge for Pirelli, as the PZero tyres will have to cope with massively difficult conditions. The stages are run on twisty and narrow mountain roads that push tyres to their limits. There are many areas of heavy braking, which make life even more difficult for the rubber, not to mention bumpy surfaces that are often characterised by abrasive asphalt.
Despite all these obstacles, Pirelli's asphalt tyres are more than ready for the challenge. Sebatien Loeb's praise of the PZero rubber after his win in Spain has been extremely encouraging, but in Corsica there will be one extra variable: the weather. The local climate in Corsica is famously unpredictable, which is yet another reason why the event is one of the most respected on the entire WRC calendar.
Corsica has often been an important event for Pirelli: for example in 1974 when the Italian firm helped Lancia to the manufacturers' title thanks to a victory on the island for the Stratos-Pirelli driven by Jean-Marc Andruet. More recently, a win there in 2003 was crucial to Petter Solberg's subsequent conquest of the drivers' World Rally Championship. Whilst Corsica has always been a happy hunting ground for Europeans, the Scandinavians who have won there have only ever managed to do so with the help of Pirelli: Markku Alen claimed victory twice (Lancia Rally, 1983 and 1984) and Petter Solberg (Subaru Impreza WRC, 2003).
The correct tyre choice will be more important than ever on the tricky asphalt of Corsica, as it is vital to an effective strategy - which also needs the flexibility to be altered at a moment's notice. The WRC priority drivers will have at their disposal 36 soft compound tyres and 40 hard PZeros for the event, including the shakedown. A close eye will be kept on variables such as tyre wear and weather conditions, as all the teams fight to come out on top of the final asphalt round of the 2008 FIA World Rally Championship.