Pirelli Wins In Japan!
Obihiro (J), 2 October 2005 - Marcus Gronholm, in his Pirelli-equipped Peugeot 307 WRC, has won the all-gravel Rally Japan , round 13 of the World Rally Championship. The event came to a dramatic finish when the Subaru-Pirelli of Petter Solberg, which had led from the beginning, stopped with just one stage to go with broken steering. Pirelli dominated the action throughout all three days, setting 25 fastest times out of 26 stages with all three partner teams (Subaru, Peugeot and Mitsubishi). Gronholm, who took the lead when Solberg retired, has notched up Pirelli's 140 th World Championship rally victory. Conditions throughout the final leg were cool and overcast, after rain showers on leg two and warmer weather on the opening day. The event was characterised by gravelly stages which were repeated in the afternoons, revealing a hard and abrasive base. This meant that tyres had to function well in a wide variety of conditions. Endurance as well as speed was a key to victory, as Rally Japan contained two runs through the longest stage of the World Championship: the 50 kilometres of Kunneywa-Niueo. Pirelli's partner teams used K and KP tyres throughout the rally, hand-cut to deal with water and loose gravel when it was necessary. Under new regulations for some of the events this year, the teams had to nominate just one tyre pattern for the whole rally. Subaru nominated the KP tyre, with which they won in Japan last year, while Peugeot and Mitsubishi chose the K pattern. For the final day all the drivers chose the 6 compound of each tyre, designed for the coolest conditions. Japanese driver Toshi Arai completed a clean sweep for Pirelli, winning the Group N category in his Subaru. Paul Hembery, Pirelli's motorsport director, commented: "Congratulations to Marcus, but we also feel very sorry for Petter and Subaru. All our Pirelli-equipped teams dominated the time sheets and it was a closely-fought battle. I am very pleased with the consistent performance of our K and our KP rubber, which demonstrated a winning pace on not only the short sprint stages, but also the longer repeated stages in the afternoons. This underlines both the speed and the durability of our covers." Rally Japan (13/16) - Final classification 1 Gronholm-Rautiainen Peugeot 307 WRC +3h25m32.0s 2 Loeb-Elena Citroen Xsara WRC +1m22.1s 3 Atkinson-Macneall Subaru Impreza WRC +2m40.0s 4 Duval-Smeets Citroen Xsara WRC +2m59.4s 5 Rovanpera-Pietilainen Mitsubishi Lancer WRC +3m59.8s 6 Gardemeister-Honkanen Ford Focus WRC +4m32.3s 7 Kresta-Tomanek Ford Focus WRC +5m32.0s 8 Carlsson-Andersson Peugeot 307 WRC +6m39.1s 9 Warmbold-Orr Ford Focus WRC +7m39.3s 10 Schwarz-Wicha Skoda Fabia WRC +12m07.4s Drivers Championship: 1 Loeb 107; 2 Gronholm 71; 3 Solberg 65; 4 Martin 53; 5 Gardemeister 50; 6 Rovanpera 31; 7 Duval 29; 8 Kresta 18; 9 Stohl 16; 10 Sainz 11; 11 Galli 10 Manufacturers: 1 Citroen 150; 2 Peugeot 128; 3 Ford 81; 4 Subaru 78; 5 Mitsubishi 58; 6 Skoda 8 Next round: Tour of Corsica (F), 21-23 October