2014 WRC - Spain - Sébastien OGIER secures Michelin’s 22nd Drivers’ world championship crown, following a demanding rally that was perfectly ma...
After Volkswagen Motorsport wrapped up the Manufacturers’ laurels at the Coates Hire Rally Australia in September, Sébastien OGIER and Julien INGRASSIA have today similarly clinched the Drivers’ and Co-drivers’ world championship titles in Spain.
For Michelin, the second consecutive coronation of the French driver enriches an already glittering record of success, which now stands at 275 victories, 22 Drivers’ titles and 24 Manufacturers’ honours since 1973. It should also be noted that Julien INGRASSIA is the first French co-driver in FIA WRC history to win multiple championships.
These triumphs came at the end of an edition of the RallyRACC-Rallye de España that was made notably difficult by the diversity and length of its special stages. Saturday in particular was a punishing day for the crews, who found themselves facing two passages through the marathon 50km Escaladei stage (SS9/SS11), designed to celebrate the event’s jubilee. Especially during the afternoon run in temperatures of 27°C (35°C on the ground), drivers had to take extra care of their cars…except for two of them: Sébastien OGIER and Jari-Matti LATVALA (respectively first and second in the 2014 FIA WRC standings). The Volkswagen Motorsport team-mates engaged in a superb duel, putting both their VW Polo R WRCs as well as their tires to the sternest of tests. Ultimately, it was Sébastien OGIER who prevailed, by setting the fastest time through SS11 as the new MICHELIN Pilot Sport H4 tires demonstrated their full potential in terms of both performance and durability. Upon the cars’ return to the service park at the end of the afternoon’s loop, tire wear was within normal limits and adhered to the current regulations, which stipulate that the tread depth must be no lower than 1.6mm.
Jari-Matti LATVALA, second in both the rally and the championship, was quick to underline the attributes of the French tires: "I pushed hard throughout the opening 40 kilometres, before backing off a little over the final 10 kilometres to avoid taking too much out of the tires. At the end of SS11, I checked my tires and saw they were still in perfect condition: I told myself that I should have continued to drive flat-out right the way through to the stage finish!”
The Volkswagen Motorsport driver was not the only one to praise the new MICHELIN Pilot Sport H4 tires. Mikko HIRVONEN (FORD Fiesta RS WRC), who came third in Spain, delivered a similarly positive verdict: “With a good set-up on the car, I was able to push to the maximum and take advantage of the excellent performance of my Michelin tires. I am perfectly satisfied and impressed by their qualities.”
The Spanish round of the world championship was nonetheless tremendously demanding – most notably the final two legs on asphalt. Indeed, the surface was very abrasive, and corner-cutting risked damaging the wheels. The intense heat was another factor that complicated the challenge and put the tires’ durability right to the test: “We are pleased to have been able to demonstrate here in Spain that the new MICHELIN Pilot Sport H4 tire is another step forward in durability over its predecessor,” declared Nicolas GOUBERT, Michelin Motorsport Technical Director.
The final round of the 2014 FIA WRC campaign will take place in Wales on November 13-16.