RALLYE MONTE-CARLO: OGIER AND SOFT TYRES DOMINATE AN UNPRECEDENTED RACE
Unexpected dry asphalt conditions put the P Zero SA tyres to the test
Good performance also from the new supersoft tyres, making their debut in the Principality
Testoni: "There is no such thing as a risk-free rally; although these were conditions for the hard tyres, the softs ensured great reliability".
This was an unusual Rallye Monte-Carlo, due to unusual temperatures and asphalt conditions. It ended as it had begun: with the domination of Sebastien Ogier, who on Friday stretched out a lead over his rivals and then wisely managed it until the end, leaving his pursuers behind. The soft tyres were also the undisputed protagaonists of the first world championship rally (the option choice in Monte-Carlo), which confirmed great versatility and reliability even in typical hard conditions. A good debut also for the new supersoft tyres, often used by the drivers to save the soft compound tyres, as well as to deal with the specific hazards of the special stages.
The unusual weather conditions and, consequently, those of the asphalt roads immediately raised the bar of the challenge for all the drivers, who were called upon to manage the tyres allocated to the maximum possible extent. All 18 special stages were characterised by good weather and dry road surfaces, the likes of which is rarely seen at Monte Carlo, and temperatures higher even those initially forecast. Added to these conditions, typical of a pure asphalt race, were the pitfalls arising from deep cuts, dirt on the road after each passage and the presence of stones on the racing line, so that on Saturday afternoon in particular the risk of tyre damage was high.
THE TYRE CHOICE
The tyre strategy was in fact forced by circumstances: on Saturday, the drivers aimed to save as many soft tyres as possible, i.e. those that were best suited to the conditions expected for Sunday. The feat was successful, so much so that the Toyota and Hyundai drivers faced the final day's practice with five new soft tyres each and the M-Sport drivers with four. The situation on Friday was different. In the morning the preferred choice of tyres was 4 soft and 2 supersoft, but there was no shortage of those who opted for the 3-3 combination (Kalle Rovanpera, Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo); in the afternoon the approach was reversed, with the majority of teams preferring to go out with an equal number of P Zero SA and P Zero SSA.
The winter specification, the Pirelli Sottozero, was never even considered by the drivers (except for Loubet on Friday afternoon).
Terenzio Testoni, rally activity manager: "The soft tyres were put under a lot of stress, and I have to admit that I too was a little surprised by their performance, which went beyond expectations, especially in terms of wear and endurance, even though they were not the most suitable choice for these conditions. The drivers would have preferred a harder tyre, because it was more stable, but at the same time they appreciated the soft's low degradation. In the end, they were able to read the situation with a good balance and make the most of what they had at their disposal, which is the main quality of a professional driver in this discipline, with so many unknown circumstances. Let's hope that Sweden does not hold any particular surprises for us and that it can be the typical winter race that we traditionally know”.
Below a graphic summary of the race