Pirelli Takes On The Land Of The Rising Sun

Rally Japan was new to the World Championship last year, but it has already established itself as one of the biggest challenges on the calendar. The event consists of narrow gravel stages, which are frequently composed of fast straights leading into tight, 90-degree corners. There are very few run-off areas, and only a tiny margin for error. The weather conditions will be unpredictable, with both sunshine and rain a possibility. These tricky conditions traditionally suit Pirelli, with the Subaru of Petter Solberg winning by nearly a minute last year. Japanese manufacturers are well-represented on the World Rally Championship, and the Japanese public is wildly enthusiastic about rallying. The rally also contains the longest stage of the World Championship, at 50 kilometres , which is used twice and will put the accent heavily on tyre performance. Japan is the last of four rallies this year where teams have to choose just one tyre pattern for the entire event (the others are Sardinia , Argentina and Finland ) due to new FIA rules. Pirelli's three partner teams - Subaru, Peugeot and Mitsubishi - will have two types of tyre suggested to them for Japan : the K and the KP. As always, the P Zero range is equipped with Pirelli's EMI anti-deflation system. FOR STAGES WITH SOFT AND SOMETIMES WET GRAVEL K (Size: 205/65-15) Steps: 2,4 and 6 (with evolution) Description: The K has a proven track record on hard and compact gravel, as is often found in Japan. It works at its best on stages with little loose gravel, and is the closest a gravel tyre comes to being a slick asphalt cover. Three compounds are available in order to cope with a wide range of temperatures. In case of softer surfaces or rain, the tyre can be hand-cut in order to work more effectively. KP (Size: 205/65-15) Steps: 4 and 6 (with evolution) Description: The KP is an alternative tyre choice for Japan , which works at its best in slightly wetter or softer conditions than those ideally suited to the K. Again, a wide selection of compounds is available to cater for an ample range of temperatures, and the tyres can be hand-cut to disperse water and loose gravel more effectively. These were the tyres with which Solberg won Rally Japan last year. NB. The higher the step number, the softer the tyre compound. THE PRODUCTION CAR WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP Japan is the seventh round of the Production Car World Rally Championship, for Group N cars. Championship leader Toshi Arai (Subaru) will use a specially-reinforced KP tyre (the championship rules do not allow anti-deflation mousse). The majority of the other competitors will use KM rubber, which works at its best in slightly wetter conditions. More information and photographs on Pirelli's motorsport: www.pirellicompetizioni.com