Sebastien Loeb wins a dramatic rally Great Britain with PIRELLI
The very first World Rally Championship of the Pirelli era has drawn to a close in Wales today, with the recently-crowned five-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb breaking his own record by claiming his 11th win in one season. Citroen-Pirelli has now taken the 2008 World Championship for Manufacturers, thanks also to a strong third place for Loeb's team mate Dani Sordo.
Ice and frost was once again the order of the day for the final day of the Wales Rally Great Britain, which marked the end of the first World Championship held under the single tyre rule with Pirelli as the exclusive supplier.
Despite these wintry conditions, the soft-compound Pirelli Scorpion tyres worked well in the tricky weather, contributing to a dramatic finish. The factory Ford Focus-Pirelli of Jari-Matti Latvala led from the opening day, but Loeb overcame the deficit on the final stage to win the rally by only 12.7 seconds and give Citroen its third manufacturers' title.
The final day's action consisted of two loops of two stages, totalling 96 competitive kilometres. With temperatures having dropped as low as minus six degrees centigrade overnight, there was plenty of ice and frost on the roads to catch out the competitors.
Nonetheless the soft compound Pirelli Scorpion tyres proved that they had the capacity to heat up to temperature as quickly as possible, providing the drivers with as much grip as surfaces would allow. MotoGP ace Valentino Rossi (Ford Focus WRC) finished 12th his third WRC event.
The Production Car World Rally Championship (PWRC), which equally is exclusively equipped by Pirelli, was also settled on the Rally Great Britain. Austria's Andreas Aigner finished second in the class, which was enough for the Mitsubishi driver to claim his inaugural PWRC title. The PWRC victory on the tricky roads of Great Britain was claimed by Patrick Flodin in a Subaru Impreza, the marque's first Group N World Rally Championship victory in over a year.
Mario Isola, Pirelli's Rally Manager, concluded: "As could maybe have been expected, conditions on the Rally Great Britain in December were very cold and slippery. Nonetheless, our Scorpion tyres have coped well with the challenge and demonstrated a high degree of driveability, as has been the case throughout the whole of the year. It's clear that when you have exactly the same tyre that needs to be used in a wide variety of places and weather conditions, it becomes a question of finding the best compromise - which we believe that we have found. It is also worth nothing that, contrary to some peoples' fears before the start of the season, there has been an extremely limited number of punctures over the course of the year and this was also the case on the Wales Rally Great Britain. In conclusion, it has been an extremely successful first season for Pirelli, and now we look forward with optimism to 2009."