Robert Kubica, using Pirelli tyres on the World Rally Championship this year, kept up his record of winning at least one stage on every rally so far, going fastest on Saturday morning in the hot and rough gravel of Rally Mexico.
Kubica’s pace was underlined in the first two split times of SS4, El Chocolate, when he was 11.4 seconds faster through the first 12.6 kilometres than World Rally Champion and eventual Rally Mexico winner Sebastien Ogier. His pace once again stunned the service park.
The Pole is Pirelli’s most high-profile driver, but many other Pirell-equipped runners also starred in Mexico, proving that the Italian tyres can help privateer squads to challenge the factory teams.
Martin Prokop, for example, claimed another points finish in Mexico, to consolidate his position as the highest-placed private driver in the World Rally Championship, ahead of some factory team drivers. Prokop finished sixth in Mexico as the highest-placed Pirelli competitor, while Kubica was 18th after going off the road.
|Kubica showed stunning pace once more with Pirelli
Lorenzo Bertelli also starred on Pirelli tyres in Mexico, overcoming his lack of World Rally Car experience to set a career-best second-fastest stage time on the opening test of the rally, in front of tens of thousands of fans at Guanajuato. And to underline the pace of Pirelli’s products, two out of the top three on SS6 were equipped with Pirelli tyres, despite only making up a small proportion of the entry.
In WRC2, Pirelli also put in a strong showing with Yuri Protasov leading the category in his M-Sport built Ford Fiesta RRC, holding off this year’s Dakar winner and reigning WRC2 champion Nasser Al Attiyah. Unfortunately, engine problems meant that Protasov lost the lead, but he still finished in the points, along with Pirelli’s reigning Production champion Max Rendina.
The Pirelli drivers used the latest evolution of Pirelli’s Reinforced K tyres, in hard and soft compound. Despite the complexity of the stages, as well as the heat and altitude, the Italian tyres emerged strongly from the ordeal of round three of the World Rally Championship.
Pirelli senior tyre engineer Matteo Braga
said: “It was a very difficult rally, as all the drivers agreed. There was very little grip, and the roads were often dirty and rough. One of the biggest challenges was the constantly changing grip, which contributed to the high number of incidents from start to finish. Robert Kubica once again exhibited truly amazing pace despite a road position that was not always to his advantage, while we also witnessed excellent performances from Martin Prokop and Yuri Protasov, who demonstrated an instant understanding of the car-tyre package to ensure consistent speed that allowed them to be competitive from start to finish.”
The next round of the World Rally Championship is Rally Argentina, held in Villa Carlos Paz from 23-26 April. Pirelli’s latest Scorpion gravel tyres will once more be back in action.
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