ACROPOLIS RALLY, SCORPION HARD AND SOFT SHARE THE STAGE IN THE TOUGHEST RACE OF THE YEAR
World champion Rovanpera wins with careful strategy
Ireland's William Creighton takes the 2023 FIA Junior WRC title
Testoni: "The rain of the previous days highlighted the rocky surface which proved aggressive for tyres and cars"
For Pirelli victory in the Hokkaido Rally with the new Toyota GR Yaris JP4-Rally 2, driven by Latvala
"It's been a long time since we have seen such an eventful and tough rally." This was the most common comment in the service park in Lamia during the weekend that has just ended, which sums up well a race dominated by uncertainty from the eve. First, because of the fires that devastated Greece at the end of August, then the torrential rain that fell until Friday night and, finally, because of the state of the roads on which the race was run. The result was a rally full of twists and turns, changes at the top and surprises mainly due to accidents. As always, in such difficult races as this, definitely the toughest of the WRC season, the winner was the one who made the fewest mistakes and had the fewest problems: Kalle Rovanpera, who with his Toyota took advantage of the misadventures of his direct rivals and consolidated his chances of winning the Championship. World Champion is already William Creighton, meanwhile, who only needed a fourth place at the Acropolis to win the title of the FIA Junior WRC, the series dedicated to young drivers supported by Pirelli. Victory in RC2 went to Andreas Mikkelsen in a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2.
In such a scenario, which cost the cars a great deal of damage, the 24 hard (prime) as well as the 12 soft (option) tyres available played a decisive role in the drivers' strategies, offering reliability and endurance on difficult terrain, especially in the toughest section of all, that of Saturday afternoon, when they got progressively worse. In fact, as early as the morning of the second day, the surfaces were littered with loose stones and rocky dimples, with muddier sections alternating with drier ones. On Saturday's second passages the surfaces were cleaner and even more aggressive on the tyres, showing the typical abrasiveness of Greek roads. The tyre choices gradually adapted to the changing conditions, moving from a predominance of softs on Friday to a majority of hards on Saturday. As stated by the Belgian driver himself, the fortunate tyre choice had earned Thierry Neuville the lead on Friday, when his Hyundai came out in the afternoon equipped with 2 hard and 4 soft. On Saturday, the various drivers in the lead opted for 3 hard and 3 soft in the morning, which became 4 and 2 respectively in the afternoon, with some notable exceptions such as Ford driver Ott Tanak (2 hard and 4 soft in the morning, 6 hard in the afternoon) and Dani Sordo (3 hard and 3 soft both in the morning and afternoon). The softs were back on Sunday morning, given the softer road surfaces compared to the previous day.
Terenzio Testoni, Pirelli Rally activity manager: "The Acropolis Rally proved to be the toughest of the season, and not only for the tyres, which suffered numerous stresses of various kinds, but also for the cars. The biggest difficulties, in addition to the traditional ones in Greece, came from the rain that fell in the previous days, which cleaned the road, removing the dirt and highlighting the rocky surface, which often damaged not only the tyres but also the cars, as happened in Sebastian Ogier's case. In three days we had three different situations, each with its own specific challenges that now the softs and then the hards had to face, often in combination. Both versions of our Scorpions confirmed the reliability that the drivers know by now, guaranteeing the necessary performance in the different race conditions: grip, robustness, resistance to fatigue and wear. In the end, the result was an exciting and interesting race from a show point of view as well as from a technical point of view, from which we and the teams can learn a lot".
SCORPION VICTORIOUS IN HOKKAIDO
Pirelli tyres were also decisive in the victorious debut of the new Toyota GR Yaris JP4-Rally 2, driven by Jari-Matti Latvala on the gravel roads of the Hokkaido Rally. The Finnish driver, who is Toyota's team principal in the WRC, finished with a good margin over Norihiko Katsuta (father of world driver Takamoto) also driving Toyota's debutant Rally2 car, which ran its first full race in Hokkaido.
Below is a graphic summary of the Acropolis Rally.