Pirelli leads overall and clinches hat trick of WRC2 victories with one-two success at home in Sardinia
Pirelli is focussing on customer competition this year, and a third straight victory in the WRC2 category on the Rally d’Italia-Sardinia has underlined the success of this strategy. Pirelli drivers Yuriy Protasov and Paolo Andreucci finished first and second in WRC2, driving a Ford Fiesta R5 and Peugeot 208 T16 respectively. Not only that but both drivers actually finished in the top 10 overall, scoring driver points for the World Rally Championship and defeating much more powerful opposition. Protasov, in a private WRC2 car, also managed to beat strong factory-backed rivals in the same class.
The gravel stages in Sardinia are renowned for being among the harshest and most destructive in the world, with a sandy gravel surface often giving way to sharp stones and rocks, which frequently cause punctures. In particular, Friday’s stages had probably the hardest gravel surface of the whole championship, similar to the old Acropolis Rally. Adding to the challenge is intense heat, which on Saturday peaked at 36 degrees centigrade ambient and 52 degrees ground temperature. This leg also contained the longest distance of competition seen all year, with more than 200 kilometres of demanding stages in just one day. These factors put together added up to an incredible challenge for the tyres, which unlike any other motorsport competition tyres, have to be road legal as well. In order to combat these challenges, Pirelli brought the Scorpion KH Reinforced hard compound as the main tyre, and the Scorpion KS Reinforced as the option, for cooler and less aggressive conditions. As well as featuring an incredibly tough construction, these tyres also have a specifically designed tread pattern that is capable of rapidly dispersing loose stones and gravel, helping to provide more grip. In the main WRC section, the Pirelli-equipped privateer Ford Fiesta RS WRC of Martin Prokop led overall after the opening special stage, Citta di Cagliari, the first time a Pirelli-equipped car has been in the overall lead of a World Rally Championship event since the company was sole supplier of the WRC from 2008-2010. Prokop also added to Pirelli’s growing total of stage wins this year, demonstrating once more how a privateer driver with the right tyres can take the fight to the top factory cars. For Pirelli this was a perfect way to celebrate not only its home rally, but also a top result for test driver Paolo Andreucci, who recently celebrated his 50th birthday but shows no sign of slowing down. “It was a fantastic, and absolutely incredible rally,” said Andreucci. “We did a good job to select the right set-up, and also the right Pirelli tyres, which were absolutely perfect from start to finish.” Pirelli senior engineer Matteo Braga commented: “Our tyres rose to the challenge of one of the most difficult events on the championship in exactly the way we intended them to, and the strength and performance can be seen in the final results. As well as congratulating our drivers, I would also like to congratulate Hayden Paddon on behalf of all of us at Pirelli. Hayden was the undisputed star of the rally, and of course he made his break onto the World Rally Championship through the Pirelli Star Driver scheme back in 2010, when the potential was already very clear. We are a great believer in supporting young talent in Pirelli, both in rallying and circuit racing, so it is fantastic to see the Star Driver scheme doing its job.” The next round of the World Rally Championship will be Rally Poland, from July 2-5.
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