Pirelli-supported Lorenzo Bertelli continues to lead the WRC2 category, aimed at privateers, following round seven of the World Rally Championship in Poland. Yuriy Protasov, another Pirelli runner, is still second – despite the fact that neither actually took part on the demanding gravel event.
Instead, Pirelli’s lead driver was Bernardo Sousa, the winner of last month’s Rallye Acores, a round of the European Championship, in his familiar Ford Fiesta Regional Rally Car. The talented Portuguese driver finished fifth in WRC2 and 16th overall.
|Sousa flew high for Pirelli in Poland
There was more success for Pirelli in the WRC2 Production standings, where Italy’s Max Rendina extended his lead in the division, with another class win in Poland. “I learned a lot, like I do on every new rally, and I was very pleased to complete the stages without problems,” said Rendina, who like Sousa made the most of his Pirelli tyres in challenging conditions.
Having been absent from the WRC calendar since 2009, Rally Poland returned to the series this year with the added element of a partial day in neighbouring Lithuania. This effectively made it two rallies in one, with conditions ranging from stony gravel with a hard base, to a soft and sandy surface. In both cases, exposed rocks increased the risk of punctures.
Pirelli supplied its soft compound Scorpion XR7 tyres for soft and damp surfaces but also made available its harder Scorpion XR5 option for very warm conditions.
Matteo Braga, Pirelli’s senior WRC tyre engineer, commented: “Our focus this year, which is the first season of our return to the WRC, is firmly on customer competition – so to be leading both WRC2 categories, overall as well as Group N, is a good achievement: even though we didn’t actually have that many entries on Rally Poland. The rally went well for us: we experienced every type of conditions, from a hard surface, to sand, to loose gravel. Some of the stages were very broken up – which even led to their cancellation – and that increased the risk of punctures from loose stones, while we also had wet conditions as well. So it’s fair to say that this was a proper workout for our tyres, but in spite of this we had no punctures or problems. Wear was also very contained on both compounds, with the drivers giving us positive feedback about the overall performance of the product.”
The next round of the WRC is Rally Finland, the fastest and most spectacular rally of them all, which takes place on gravel stages close to Jyvaskyla from July 31-August 3.
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