CROATIA RALLY, DIRT ON THE ROADS COMPLICATES DRIVERS' WEEKEND
Loose gravel and loose stones lowered grip and increased the risk of punctures
Quite different tyre strategy among the teams with often opposing choices
Testoni: "The P Zero tyres ensured maximum reliability and endurance on very rough surfaces".
At the Rally Croatia, Toyota won with Elfyn Evans a tough, almost gravel-like race in which the tyres had to do a super job to ensure grip, resistance, and durability at the same time. The most common choice of tyres was a mix of P Zero hard (prime) and soft (option), although differently combined between the various teams, with the soft prevailing now and then the hard. There was no shortage of prime, option and wet tyres all together, particularly on Friday, when the traditionally unstable Croatian weather threatened rain. In the end, there was little or no precipitation throughout the weekend and even the dreaded humidity was less than expected, due to the generally high temperatures during the day. The only truly counter-intuitive choice of the entire weekend was made on Sunday morning by Thierry Neuville, who went out with four soft without a spare to aim for the power stage victory. A gamble that turned out to be a winner for the Belgian.
THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE RACE WEEKEND WERE:
- The slipperiness of the road surfaces on which the search for grip was one of the biggest challenges for the drivers, especially on the second passes where soft was chosen, even though the surfaces were dry
- The surfaces covered with a lot of debris, due to the continuous and often deep cuts, so that they presented sections more typical of a race on gravel than on asphalt
- The not infrequent damage to the rims and mechanical parts of the car, due both to the presence of stones on the ground and to the differences in level between the asphalt surface and the roadside; emblematic in this respect was what happened in SS2 (perhaps the toughest of the entire Rally) to Sebastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanpera, who suffered damage to their rims and consequently to their tyres in the same corner and at the same point.
TERENZIO TESTONI, PIRELLI RALLY ACTIVITY MANAGER:
“The really decisive element of this race was the dirt that characterized all the special stages, determining at the same time a lowering of the grip, already quite poor, on the loose gravel and an increase in the risk of punctures and damage to the wheel system, due to the many stones on the track. Worth mentioning is the double work of the soft tyres, which were used not only on wet surfaces, but also on those full of loose gravel, especially in the second passes, which were in fact generally slower. The evolution of our asphalt range completed last year proved once again that it can ensure maximum performance and reliability even in such situations. All in all, I would say it was a very complex race for everyone, with some unfortunate episodes, such as those of which Ogier and Rovanpera were victims”.
In RC2, whose teams largely replicated the strategies of the top category, Yohan Rossel dominated, while in the Junior WRC, Kelly Eammon came out on top.