|Al Attiyah: WRC2 winner with Pirelli
Following his switch to Pirelli tyres, former Production Car World Rally Champion, two-time Dakar winner and Olympic medallist Nasser Al-Attiyah has immediately won in Portugal, claiming the WRC2 category after an intense fight over some new stages.
Having been based in the south of Portugal in recent years, the Portuguese round of the World Rally Championship returned to classic stages around Porto – including the legendary Fafe – for the first time since 2001.
The stages proved to be extremely tricky, with demanding road conditions that demanded a lot from the tyres. Nonetheless, Pirelli clinched its second WRC2 victory on the trot, following Abdulaziz Al Kawari’s win in Argentina last month.
Al-Attiyah won by 37 seconds, having consistently been at the top of the time sheets in his Ford Fiesta RRC. As the result of his latest success, the Qatari driver now leads the WRC2 points standings. “This was a new rally for everybody and there was no experience advantage for any driver,” said Al-Attiyah. “We were really strong and showed that we’re fast and I’m so happy to win again.”
Estonia’s Karl Kruuda was another Pirelli driver who showed plenty of pace, winning two stages before an off-road excursion ruled him out of contention.
|Kubica scored points in new Fiesta
Polish ace Robert Kubica returned to World Rally Championship competition after choosing to miss Rally Argentina. He came back with the latest 2015-specification Ford Fiesta RS WRC, which has benefitted from the biggest set of upgrades since the car was launched in 2011. On his debut in the brand new car, he concentrated on learning its new characteristics and how they matched the Pirelli tyres. Making no mistakes, he finished ninth – with another Pirelli-equipped 2015 Ford Fiesta, in the hands of Martin Prokop, also scoring points in 10th.
“Despite using a new car on new stages, we were able to keep a solid and consistent pace, avoiding any issues on the road or in the service park” said the Pole. “After a break of two and a half months I needed a bit of time to rediscover the feeling behind the wheel, but it was a good weekend.”
The Pirelli drivers all used the Pirelli Scorpion KH Reinforced hard compound as the main tyre in Argentina, with the Pirelli Scorpion KS Reinforced soft as the option (for cooler or sandy stages). These tyres were both based on last year’s K product to make them even more stable and durable for the rally’s 16 gravel stages.
Pirelli senior engineer Matteo Braga commented: “We were delighted to welcome Nasser into our family and even more pleased that his first event with us this year immediately ended up with a win. This was one of the hardest events we have seen for quite a long time: the stages turned out to be extremely rough and challenging, especially for the tyres. The K series has a reasonably stiff construction, a unique tread pattern, and compounds that have been formulated to match a wide range of demanding conditions. These factors put together help to provide a good all-round performance, both on WRC cars – as Robert and Martin showed – and WRC2 machinery. Without supplying factory teams this year we have been focused on developing a good customer product, and so far the verdict has been positive.”
The next round of the World Rally Championship will be Pirelli’s home event in Sardinia, Italy, from June 11-15.
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