Pirelli-supported WRC Academy set for thrilling final-round showdown

The inaugural FIA WRC Academy draws to a close on Wales Rally GB this week (November 10-12), with two young and talented drivers – Estonia’s Egon Kaur and Irishman Craig Breen – in contention for the title. For the first time, Pirelli’s K6 tyre will be used: designed for soft gravel and low temperatures, typical of the conditions found it Wales at this time of year. Kaur, the winner of the first three rounds this year, starts with a 20-point advantage but with a maximum of 42 points on offer (25 for winning the rally, plus an extra point for each of the 17 stages won) there is everything still to play for. Rally GB is one of Pirelli’s most successful events, with the Italian company having racked up eight overall victories in Wales since 2000, as well as the World Rally Championship title there on four occasions. Conditions are usually cold, wet and muddy, with fog limiting visibility early in the morning and late in the evening. This year, the rally has a completely different look to it compared to previous seasons, with the start on Thursday afternoon in the northern seaside resort of Llandudno, two runs through an all-asphalt stage, and some stages used in north and mid Wales that have not seen competitive action since the 1990s. In order to find grip through the slippery surfaces, the K6 gravel tyre will be used for the first time: a harder version of the K4 tyre seen in Italy, Portugal and Finland. Its tread blocks are designed to bite through mud and gain the maximum possible traction, both in a straight line and through corners, by rapidly dispersing surface gravel. The soft compound means that it heats up quickly even at low temperatures: including the conditions close to freezing that are likely to be seen in Wales. The drivers will have 18 sets of tyres to use in total for the event, plus two spare sets for the shakedown. Among the WRC Academy intake are the six Pirelli Star Drivers, who are competing this season through a scholarship from the FIA, motorsport’s world governing body, Pirelli. The Pirelli Star Drivers for 2011 are Sweden’s Fredrik Ahlin, Craig Breen from Ireland, Czech Jan Cerny, Italian Andrea Crugnola, plus Australians Brendan Reeves and Molly Taylor. Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented: “Rally GB is always a huge challenge for drivers and tyres, because of the constantly-changing levels of grip and the typically British weather at the end of the year! There’s no better or more challenging place for our inaugural year of the WRC Academy to come to a close, and the person who wins it will thoroughly deserve the recognition they achieve after what has been a thrilling battle throughout the season. This year’s Rally GB also marks the 10th anniversary of the title won by Richard Burns, on Pirelli tyres. There are a number of charitable initiatives taking place to support the Richard Burns Foundation on the rally, which I would urge everybody to support.” As usual, the WRC Academy action draws to a close on Saturday night – when the winner of the series will be known and the title celebrated. For further information contact: Anthony Peacock +44 7765 896930 anthony@mediatica.co.uk