Kubica concludes season in top 10 on Wales rally Great Britain
Polish star Robert Kubica has concluded Rally Great Britain, and the 2015 World Rally Championship, in the top 10. During a year in which the Polish star continued to learn plenty about what he described as “probably the hardest form of motorsport in the world”, he set nine fastest stage times throughout the season, on surfaces as diverse as snow, gravel and asphalt. Throughout the season, he was assisted by his Pirelli tyres: which allowed the Pole to underline his status as the fastest privateer of the year, able to match the factory teams.
Great Britain – an event that is characterised by mud, rain, fog and frequent grip changes – proved to be one of the most challenging rallies of the year once more. Despite these hazards, Pirelli’s other privateers also showed themselves capable of running in the top 10, with Lorenzo Bertelli and Martin Prokop also in the fight for points, until they suffered varying misfortunes. In Prokop’s case, he was eliminated by a bizarre accident on a road section, when he was involved in a collision with another competitor after both had made a navigational error. Bertelli eventually finished just outside of the points but commented: “Even though the conditions were terrible we had good grip; I really enjoyed it.” In the WRC2 section, where Pirelli was strongly represented once more, one of the stars of the event was former Finnish Motorsport Federation Rising Star Teemu Suninen, who put in a stunning performance to take a real fight to the leader, despite being equipped with an ageing Skoda Fabia S2000 as opposed to the more modern R5 machinery of his rivals, and being stuck behind another competitor with a problem for five kilometres on day one. “Definitely the tyres have helped me,” said the Finn. “I was able to feel confidence even when the grip was changing a lot and I think we could show plenty of performance on these stages. It’s not easy as the grip is changing all the time so it is very easy to be caught out.” There was more success for Pirelli when Gianluca Linari won the WRC2 Production class and clinched the title for the Italian firm, after a strong run throughout the year. Underlining Pirelli’s philosophy of supporting up-and-coming young drivers, the Pirelli-backed ACI Junior Team demonstrated the skills of rising Italian star Fabio Andolfi, who not only finished second in the WRC3 category, armed with just a Peugeot 208 R2 against a plethora of local experts, but also clinched RC4. “I’m very happy: I did not expect this result,” said Andolfi. “Many thanks to all my backers, and to Pirelli.” The drivers had Pirelli’s Scorpion K tyres at their disposal on Wales Rally GB, in both KSA soft compound (specifically developed for Rally GB) and KHA hard compound. Because of the cold and muddy conditions, the soft KSA compound was mainly used throughout the rally. As well as a compound that is extremely effective in these conditions, the strength of the tyre as well as the unique tread pattern came into its own. The tread pattern has been specifically designed to evacuate water, mud and loose stones as quickly and effectively as possible. Even though the latest ‘K’ tyres are brand new, this has always been a Pirelli trademark, as Pirelli’s former world champion Petter Solberg – watching the rally in his capacity as the official ‘Rally Legend’ – can attest. “This is never an easy rally to win, but we were fortunate to have fantastic tyres from Pirelli as well,” said the 2003 champion. “We used the K or KM tyre in the soft compound. It was amazing how much grip you could get from that tyre.” After 19 demanding special stages, Pirelli’s product manager Terenzio Testoni concluded: “Even by Rally GB standards, these conditions were extremely tough, with mud, storms and fog. Our tyres nonetheless provided extreme durability, grip and confidence, as can be seen by the achievements of a number of our drivers. Congratulations to Fabio in particular, who overcame a lack of experience to score a significant result, and to Teemu Suninen, whose performance was a highlight of the rally. One of the stage winners here was also Ott Tanak: he first came to prominence on the World Rally Championship through the Pirelli Star Driver scheme. Central to our philosophy is investing in young talent for the future.” Pirelli’s next major rally engagement will be the Monza Rally in Italy during the first weekend of December.
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