For the first time a round of the FIA World Rally Championship will be held in Belgium, taking in two of the country’s most famous motorsport venues: the tricky asphalt stages of the Ypres Rally and the iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit, also home to Formula 1’s Belgian Grand Prix. For the top category, Pirelli will supply its P Zero WRC asphalt tyre in soft and hard compounds as well as the Cinturato full wet tyre, with the potential for any of the three options to be favoured depending on the weather conditions.
THE PIRELLI TYRES IN BELGIUM
P Zero RA WRC RC1: Pirelli’s asphalt rally tyre is offered in two different compounds on sealed-surface events. In Belgium the first choice will be the soft compound for mixed dry and damp conditions, providing the best grip in cooler or slippery conditions. The hard compound will be available for drier and longer stages, or higher temperatures.
P Zero RA RC2: Pirelli’s asphalt tyres for the support categories also come in soft compound (RA7+) for mixed dry and damp conditions and hard (RA5) for dry conditions. They feature many of the same characteristics of the WRC tyres fitted to the top cars.
Cinturato RWB: A dedicated rain tyre available to all categories for wet conditions on asphalt roads, with a specific tread pattern that is particularly effective at clearing standing water to reduce aquaplaning.
Terenzio Testoni, rally activity manager: “Ypres might be a new challenge for the WRC but it’s one that we are very familiar with as this is one of Europe’s most popular and demanding rallies. Alongside the many ditches and telegraph poles lining the route, the biggest challenge for the crews is the amount of dirt that gets brought onto the road with each passing car, which makes the surface extremely slippery in places. For this reason our soft compound P Zero tyres are the main choice, but the weather in the region is always difficult to predict and the hard compound and full wet tyres could also see plenty of action. We’re also looking forward to the final day at Spa-Francorchamps, which falls two weeks after the Spa 24 Hours – Pirelli’s biggest motorsport event of the year – and two weeks before the Belgian Grand Prix. If it’s dry, the grip available from the track surface at Spa will be much greater than the rest of the rally route, which could give the teams something to think about ahead of the deciding Power Stage.”
PIRELLI IN NUMBERS
Pirelli will bring around 3100 tyres to Belgium, of which 750 will be for the top class of World Rally Cars.
Each of the WRC drivers can use up to 26 tyres during the rally, with a separate allocation of four tyres for shakedown. For the rally, each car has a total allocation of:
- 26 P Zero WRC Soft
- 24 P Zero WRC Hard
- 12 Cinturato RWB
Pirelli will also supply 2000 tyres to the other four-wheel drive cars in the event, including those entered in WRC 2 and WRC 3:
- 24 P Zero RA7+ (soft)
- 22 P Zero RA5 (hard)
- 12 Cinturato RWB
- Again, there is a separate allocation of four tyres for shakedown
Round four of the Junior WRC season will also take place in Belgium, for which Pirelli will supply a further 350 tyres.
- 16 P Zero RA7+
- 12 P Zero RA5
- 12 Cinturato RWB
- A maximum of 22 tyres are allowed to be used (including shakedown)
WHY TYRE STRATEGY MATTERS
Grip is very important on the slippery Ypres stages, meaning drivers are likely to favour the soft compound. But with the mid-August date there is the potential for high temperatures, as well as the year-round threat of rain at almost any moment. Teams and drivers may therefore be reliant on the latest information coming from their route-note crews and meteorologists to make their tyre choices – rather like they are at Rallye Monte-Carlo.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
A fast-paced Friday. The opening day of the rally is also the longest in terms of competitive distance, with 135.34 kilometres and eight stages crammed into the afternoon and evening in a compact route. This accounts for nearly half of the rally’s total competitive distance, giving the drivers little chance to ease into the event. Look out also for the national class cars competing in the top category in Belgium: these too run on Pirelli tyres as part of the highly-competitive Belgian championship.
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