|Bertelli was Pirelli's leading WRC runner
The penultimate round of the World Rally Championship, Wales Rally GB, provided unseasonably warm weather rather than the consistent rain and mud that usually characterise the event. This actually made the surface more slippery than usual, without water to compact the ground that makes up the gravel roads.
Nonetheless, the Pirelli Scorpion KSB and KHB tyres performed well in conditions that they were not ideally designed for. Instead, some of Pirelli’s drivers hit their own problems, as they struggled to adapt car set-up to the different conditions of Wales Rally GB, which was being held a month earlier than usual.
Lorenzo Bertelli, Pirelli’s leading WRC1 runner, finished just outside the points after not finding the right set-up initially. But the Italian then overcame these difficulties to record another problem-free rally to consolidate his experience for the future.
“My goal was just to finish the rally without any problems and so I’m very happy to get another solid finish,” said Bertelli. “It was actually a lot more slippery than I expected, which I think was true for everyone. But in the end I found a nice feeling with the car, and so we had the confidence that we needed.”
Even the Pirelli drivers who had been competing at the top level of the British Rally Championship this year struggled with the unusual conditions, such as Sweden’s Fredrik Ahlin and Scotland’s David Bogie. Ahlin retired his Ford Fiesta R5 with turbo problems on day one, while Bogie hit a rock and damaged the steering before sliding into a tree. Once his car was fixed, he managed to challenge the top drivers in the WRC2 category, trading times with the factory Skoda R5s using his privateer example.
“It was very slippery but our Pirelli tyres were working very well in the conditions,” said Bogie: who has previously won both the British and Scottish national rally titles with Pirelli. “I was really pleased to be able to swap times with some of the best drivers in the world.”
Another Pirelli star on the event was veteran Frenchman Michel Fabre who, despite being around 40 years older than many of his rivals, was still nearly able to clinch this year’s WRC3 title in a Pirelli-equipped Citroen DS3 R3T.
Pirelli’s rally activity manager Terenzio Testoni commented: “The conditions this year on Rally GB were very different to how they are normally, mostly on account of the absence of rain before the rally. This meant that conditions were more slippery than usual, with a loose surface that was difficult to adapt to and not exactly what the Scorpion KSB tyres were specifically designed for. However, our drivers still managed to show their potential and find the confidence to finish what is renowned as one of the toughest events of the year with no issues, again underlining the adaptability of our products to a wide range of circumstances.”
The next and final round of the 2016 World Rally Championship, again held entirely on gravel, is Rally Australia from 17-20 November.