Pirelli on the verge of European Rally Championship title
|Luca Rossetti will give ERC debut to Toyota GT86 R3 on Pirelli tyres|
This weekend’s all-asphalt round of the European Rally Championship, the Barum Czech Rally Zlin, offers the first opportunity for Pirelli’s Kajetan Kajetanowicz to clinch this year’s title, driving a Ford Fiesta R5 run by the Lotos Rally Team. Kajetanowicz can clinch title just with a day podium: The Polish driver, who comes to the event with a 76-point lead over fellow Pirelli driver Alexey Lukyanuk and 81 points over Latvia’s Ralfs Sirmacis, only needs to finish ahead of his rivals to guarantee a second consecutive title. If his direct rival retires, then Kajetanowicz – co-driven as always by Jaroslav Baran – can become champion with just the leg points for third place, or eighth overall by the end of the rally. This would make him mathematically impossible to catch in the points table, with two rallies still left to go after the Czech Republic. ERC Junior title will depend on dropped scores: This rally is also the penultimate round of the ERC Junior Championship, a series reserved for young drivers, where Pirelli is the exclusive tyre supplier. Again, it could well turn out to be a decisive weekend in the intense duel between Opel team mates Chris Ingram and Marijan Griebel. The Englishman and the German are the only drivers left in contention for the title, and with both Adam drivers having already reached their maximum scoring opportunities (in accordance with the championship rules), it will now all come down to dropped scores. In practice, the fight for the title is wide open, as the 11-point advantage that Ingram has over Griebel is effectively cancelled out by the German’s most advantageous dropped score. So there’s everything to play for. Pirelli at the forefront in ERC2 and ERC3: Pirelli is also well represented in the ERC2 category (for Group N cars) and ERC3 category (for two-wheel drive cars). In ERC2, Italy’s Giacomo Scattolon, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer, will try to hunt down the almost uncatchable Wojciech Chuchala. The Subaru Poland driver has claimed five class wins out of five participations in his Pirelli-equipped Impreza, with Scattolon choosing the Italian tyres as well. One of the most exciting arrivals in the ERC3 category this weekend is three-time European Rally Champion Luca Rossetti from Italy, who will be driving a Toyota GT86 R3 on Pirelli tyres – with victory in the ERC3 category as his firm objective. The rally: It’s a classic event run on Skoda’s home territory, which will be present with its factory team as a natural favourite for a home victory. The rally is also a round of the Czech championship. The route: The route consists of extremely fast asphalt stages, which are frequently bumpy. A particular hazard for the drivers to look out for is dirt on the roads, spread by previous cars and also agricultural traffic. There are a number of forested sections under trees that are hazardous as well, as they can contain damp and slippery patches. The weather: Rain is a frequent and tricky variable, although for now good weather is predicted throughout the weekend. The tyres and the rules: FIA regulations stipulate that each of the top crews is allowed 18 tyres for the rally, in 18-inch size. The ERC Junior and ERC3 competitors will have 12 tyres at their disposal, in 16-inch size. Pirelli will make the entire range of P Zero RK tyres available, from RK5A (hard compound) and RK7B (medium compound) to RK9A (soft compound). For damp and/or wet conditions the RKW7A tyre is available. At the moment, the regulations do not permit the use of the new Pirelli Cinturato RW for heavy rain, although on this event tyre cutting is allowed for wet conditions. The 16-inch tyres available to the ERC Junior drivers will be RK5 (hard compound), RK7 (medium compound) and RKW7 (damp-wet compound).
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