TERENZIO TESTONI: "WITH THESE POOR GRIP SURFACES, BETTER TO HAVE A CAUTIOUS AND CONSERVATIVE APPROACH"
As predicted, the first day of Rally New Zealand proved to be one of the most challenging of the season. Characterising the six stages, totalling 158.6 kilometres, were the slippery yet highly abrasive road conditions on the west coast of the North Island. Another feature of the day was the rain, at times very intense but irregular, which made grip even more difficult than the drivers themselves had imagined, especially in the morning.
In the first part of the day, all the teams relied almost exclusively on the soft-compound Scorpion tyres (prime), leaving little room for the hard ones, while in the second part the softs were the only choice. In the first passages, dominated by rain, the choice proved to be quite adequate for the situation; in the second passages of the afternoon the conditions were more variable, with sometimes almost dry and sometimes muddy roads, which put a strain on both tyres and drivers. Adding to the stress on the tyres were the characteristic uphill corners, particularly in the Whaanga Coast stage (SS 2 and 5).
Below is a summary of today's features.
Nevertheless, average and top speeds were quite high. The highest average speed was recorded by day's leader Ott Tanak in a Hyundai at 113.5km/h on the 18.53-kilometre SS7 Te Akau North 2.
Pirelli's Rally Activity Manager Terenzio Testoni commented: "The uncertainty of the weather variability is traditionally one of the factors to be taken into account most in this race, which today was very much affected by the unstable weather. The second passage of the Whaanga Coast was emblematic, with an even dusty first part and a wet second part. We are already almost halfway through the competitive kilometres of the rally and the advice I would give to the drivers is to be gentle with the tyres, so as to protect them as much as possible from these very abrasive and slippery surfaces and to make the most of their performance characteristics. I think the victory will go to whoever can best find the balance between speed and regularity".
Below is an overview of the second day of the New Zealand Rally.