Pirelli set for Australia WRC challenge with new KHA and KSA tyres
Six drivers will benefit from Pirelli’s championship-winning tyre technology when the WRC heads to Australia this weekend (September 10-13). After the asphalt of Rallye Deutschland last month, Australia is all about gravel for the World Rally Championship contenders. The stages in New South Wales are a mix of fast and flowing and tight and twisty gravel roads often run through areas of thick vegetation on hardwearing surfaces, putting a strong focus on tyre performance and durability. This will be emphasised on Saturday’s second leg when two passes of the 50.80-kilometre Nambucca stage are run.
Pirelli will supply its new hard compound KHA Reinforced tyre for use in warm and dry conditions and its KSA Reinforced soft compound alternative if temperatures drop and road surfaces are damp. An evolution of the tyres is permitted under the FIA’s ‘Joker’ regulations, which allow tyre manufacturers to introduce a limited number of innovations during the season. In total crews will tackle 17 stages around host city Coffs Harbour over a competitive distance of 311.36 kilometres. Leading Pirelli drivers in Australia: Lorenzo Bertelli will represent Pirelli in the headlining WRC1 class in his FWRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC, with Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Yuriy Protasov and Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari competing in Pirelli-shod Fiesta RRCs in the WRC2 division. Gianluca Linari (Subaru Impreza WRX) and local hero Nathan Quinn (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX) will also be relying on Pirelli tyres in WRC2 on Rally Australia. Robert Kubica has decided to miss Rally Australia in order to concentrate on testing for the forthcoming asphalt rallies. 37 Lorenzo Bertelli/Lorenzo Granai (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) 31 Yazeed Al-Rajhi/Michael Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC) 38 Yuriy Protasov/Pavlo Cherepin (Ford Fiesta RRC) 40 Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari/Marshall Clarke (Ford Fiesta RRC) 43 Gianluca Linari/Nicola Arena (Subaru Impreza WRX) 44 Nathan Quinn/David Calder (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX) The tyres available and the rules: Pirelli’s World Rally Car class contenders Lorenzo Bertelli/Lorenzo Granai can use a maximum of 24 tyres during Rally Australia with covers used in shakedown not included in the overall quantity allowed for the event under WRC rules. The Italian can choose from 24 of the first choice 205/65R15 KHA Reinforced and 16 of the 2015/65R15 KSA Reinforced. Pirelli’s five WRC2 contenders can select from 22 of the 205/65R15 KHA Reinforced and 16 of the 205/65R15 KSA Reinforced. Quotes: Terenzio Testoni, Pirelli product manager:“Australian gravel is particularly challenging and quite a tricky surface to adapt to for non-local drivers, so it’s important to supply a tyre that delivers plenty of grip and confidence. We’re expecting weather conditions to be quite warm and there are some long stages as well, so durability will be just as important as performance, which is why the hard compound is nominated as our main tyre. We’re introducing our new KHA and KSA tyres, where we’ve been working particularly on strength and performance stability. Australia is the ideal place for this, as it’s characterised by abrasive surfaces and high temperatures. Lorenzo is aiming to learn and gain experience, but we will be aiming again for a top result in WRC2, having already enjoyed plenty of success in the category so far this year.”
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