Pirelli’s asphalt RK tyres return in Corsica for the ‘Rally of 10,000 Corners’
After an absence of seven years, a legendary event returns to the World Rally Championship: the Tour de Corse. It’s nicknamed the ‘Rally of 10,000 Corners’ but in reality there are many more than that, allied to constantly changing asphalt surfaces and equally variable weather. It’s one of the biggest challenges of all for any asphalt rally tyre, with a fearsome reputation, and Pirelli will bring the latest evolution of the RK tyre that made its debut on Rallye Deutschland last month.
|Robert Kubica, Rally Germany, 2015|
This tyre is particularly well suited to the varied demands of Corsica, conforming to the latest FIA regulations that stipulate just one tread pattern for both wet and dry conditions. In this way, Pirelli’s World Rally Championship technology becomes even closer to that used to make tyres for normal road conditions, ultimately benefitting the everyday motorist. Pirelli’s focus this year is firmly on customer competition, with the most high-profile customer being former grand prix star Robert Kubica. The famous Pole returns to the action in Corsica after missing the last round in Australia to concentrate on asphalt testing in his 2015-specification Ford Fiesta RS WRC, and he is aiming for a strong result with the help of Pirelli. The Italian tyres have already contributed to a string of fastest times for Kubica this year: a feat he will be hoping to emulate in Corsica, even though the event is brand new to him. Corsica is adopting a very different format compared to other World Rally Championship events. There are just nine stages during the whole event, and they are all very long – going back to the Tour de Corse’s original philosophy. In total, there are 332 competitive kilometres, with the longest individual stage being SS6 (Muracciole-Col de Sorba) totalling 48.46 kilometres Leading Pirelli drivers in Germany: Robert Kubica returns to competition for the first time since Rallye Deutschland, spearheading Pirelli’s attack on the Tour de Corse. Lorenzo Bertelli is also back, fresh from performing zero car duties on the recent Rally Roma Capitale. Pirelli is equipping one of its biggest-ever entries on this classic island event, with an eclectic variety of privateer rally cars that also range from a BMW M3 to a Fiat Punto diesel. The 2015 Tour de Corse has the biggest entry seen on any World Championship event since Finland in 2001. Below is a selection of some of the leading Pirelli runners on the Tour de Corse: 14 Robert Kubica/Maciej Szczepaniak (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) 21 Martin Prokop/Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) 37 Lorenzo Bertelli/Lorenzo Granai (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) 33 Max Rendina/Emanuele Inglesi (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10) 34 Quentin Giordano/Valentin Sarreaud (Citroen DS3 RRC) 40 Armin Kremer/Pirmin Winklhofer (Skoda Fabia R5) 44 Julien Maurin/Nicolas Klinger (Ford Fiesta RRC) 48 Gianluca Linari/Nicolas Arena (Subaru Impreza) 50 Jonathan Hirschi/Vincent Landais (Peugeot 208 T16) 84 Yuriy Protasov/Pavlo Cherepin (Ford Fiesta R5) The tyres available and the rules: The WRC1 drivers are allowed 30 tyres for the whole rally under the latest regulations (four tyres per tyre change opportunity, plus four spares). They can choose from 30 of the first choice RKH and 24 of the option RKS. The RK pattern, for dry and wet asphalt, was introduced when Pirelli returned to the World Rally Championship in Monte Carlo last year, but has since undergone a number of evolutions – most recently for Rallye Deutschland last month. The same type of tyre will also be used for the one remaining asphalt round this year in Spain. For the first time this year, the WRC2 runners have exactly the same number of tyres as their WRC equivalents. Quotes: Terenzio Testoni, Pirelli product manager: “We’re expecting what is undoubtedly going to be one of the toughest events of the year, given how long and selective the stages are in Corsica. And it’s not just a question of individual stages but instead loops of stages: which will often exceed 80 kilometres at a time. This will challenge not only the tyres themselves, but also the cars and the drivers. The challenge comes from many fronts. There are lots of different types of asphalt ranging from new asphalt, which tends to provide low grip, to old, broken up, and abrasive Tarmac that provides high grip: more reminiscent of traditional Corsica stages. Many of the stages are very narrow and bumpy, further reducing grip: especially during the opening leg. The stages on the final leg around Porto Vecchio are a bit different, with more open and flowing roads. Add in the variety of possible weather conditions as well, and we have the perfect all-round challenge for an asphalt rally tyre.”
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