The first season of Pirelli’s return as tyre supplier to the top category of the FIA World Rally Championship reaches a climax at the famous Monza circuit, close to the company’s Milan headquarters, with both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ champions still to be decided. Rally Monza mixes stages around the ‘Temple of Speed’ itself with nearby mountain roads in the foothills of the Bergamasque Alps, and Pirelli will equip the drivers for the wide range of possible conditions with several different tyre options.
THE PIRELLI TYRES AT MONZA
P Zero RA WRC: Pirelli’s asphalt rally tyre is available in two different compounds. The new hard compound (RA WRC HA) will be the first choice in Italy after making its debut on the previous round in Spain and demonstrating its reliability over long stages and in higher temperatures. The soft (RA WRC S) will be an alternative choice, providing grip in cooler or damp and slippery conditions.
P Zero RA RC2: The less powerful Rally 2 cars also have two different compounds of P Zero tyres available: hard compound (RA5) for dry conditions and soft compound (RA7+) for mixed dry and damp conditions. They feature many of the same characteristics of the WRC tyres fitted to the top cars.
Cinturato RWB: A dedicated rain tyre used by all categories of four-wheel drive cars for wet conditions on asphalt roads, with a specific tread pattern that’s particularly effective at clearing standing water to reduce aquaplaning.
Sottozero STZ-B: A winter tyre for all categories of four-wheel drive cars in the event of extreme conditions. Unlike the last time the Sottozero was seen in January’s Rallye Monte-Carlo, it won’t be available with studs, which are not permitted on Rally Monza. These are likely to be seen if there is snow on the road, or alternatively in extreme wet conditions with mud, asphalt, and gravel – as was the case last year on some of the Monza stages.
Terenzio Testoni, rally activity manager: “We are pleased to welcome the WRC back to our Monza for the final round of the season. It’s special for us that the championship will be decided at our home circuit: a place where we have a lot of history in both racing and rallying. The stages at the circuit can appear quite simple, but the combination of different types of roads and surfaces used these days makes it a very challenging rally for even the best drivers, especially with the additional pressure of a championship fight. On top of that, as we saw in 2020, the conditions can be very demanding at this time of year: particularly in the mountains. We will be prepared for every possibility with four different tyre options, from the Sottozero through to our latest hard-compound P Zero, which made a successful debut in Spain. Being able to adapt to changing conditions and make the right decisions will be crucial to success, as we say farewell to the current era of World Rally Cars before the new hybrid formula makes its debut next year. Tyre choice will be crucial on Friday and Saturday mornings, with a pair of mountain stages to be run twice before the crews return to Monza.
PIRELLI IN NUMBERS
Pirelli will bring around 5000 tyres to Monza, of which 1000 will be for the top class of World Rally Cars.
Each of the WRC drivers can use up to 28 tyres during the rally, including shakedown. For the rally, each car has a total allocation of:
- 32 P Zero RA WRC HA (hard)
- 24 P Zero RA WRC S (soft)
- 12 Cinturato RWB
- 8 Sottozero STZ-B
Pirelli will also supply, 3500 tyres to the other four-wheel drive cars in the event, including those entered in WRC 2 and WRC 3:
- 30 P Zero RA5 (hard)
- 22 Zero RA7+ (soft)
- 12 Cinturato RWB
- 8 Sottozero STZ-B
THE BIG NUMBER
17. Sébastien Ogier arrives in Monza leading the drivers’ championship by 17 points over his Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans, who is the only rival that can stop Ogier from claiming an eighth world title in his final full season in the WRC. Toyota is looking to secure a championship double, with a lead of 47 points over Hyundai in the manufacturers’ standings.
WHY TYRE STRATEGY MATTERS
Rally Monza will serve up a larger range of different surfaces than any other event on this year’s calendar. The stages at Monza itself make use of the super-smooth grand prix circuit, historic concrete banking and gravel service roads, while the asphalt roads in the mountains could be coated in ice or snow. Tyre choice could be particularly tricky on Friday and Saturday mornings, which will both feature a pair of mountain stages to be run twice before the crews return to Monza.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
The end of an era. As well as deciding the 2021 champions, Rally Monza will bring the curtain down on the World Rally Car era after a quarter of a century. They will be replaced in 2022 by a new generation of Rally1 cars complete with hybrid power.
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