2015 WRC - The new MICHELIN Pilot Sport H5 and S5 tires: efficiency and versatility in Corsica’s extremely demanding conditions
The 2015 Tour de Corse ended in Ajaccio, Corsica, France, today after three dramatic days of competition that will no doubt be talked about for many years to come!
After Thursday evening’s rainy official send-off ceremony, a level-two weather alert was issued for the Mediterranean island ahead of storms which swept over the mountains during the night before the start. The next morning, crews woke up to find parts of the island devastated by torrential rain and flooding.
The opening stage near Ajaccio (29km, Plage du Liamone-Sarrola Carcopino) was damp with some patches of running water, following which competitors were directed to an extended regroup after the day’s second test (Casamozza-Ponte Leccia) was cancelled. After the service halt, crews concluded Friday with SS3 (Francardo-Sermano 1) where varying conditions had a big influence on the early leaderboard.
At this point, the standings were topped by M-Sport’s Evans/Barritt (N°5 Ford Fiesta WRC), more than 10 seconds clear of Hyundai i20 WRC pair Abbring/Marshall and 23 seconds ahead of Latvala/Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC).
The second day took place in much clearer weather, with some sunshine beginning to appear, but the second visit to Casamozza-Ponte Leccia (SS4) was struck off the list because the road was still impracticable. Despite this setback, the drivers continued their battle on Leg 2’s other two tests which saw Volkswagen Motorsport drivers claim the fastest times on SS5 (Francardo-Sermano 2) and SS6 (Muracciole-Col de Sorba). By the end of Saturday’s action, Finns Latvala/Anttila were in front, chased by Evans/Barritt et Mikkelsen/Floene.
The final day’s stages took place under fine blue skies and temperatures in the mid-20°C mark which ensured far more favourable conditions. Even so, the mountain roads were still damp in places and the teams tried differing tire strategies.
For this year’s Tour de Corse, the WRC drivers benefited from a total allocation of 30 hard-compound MICHELIN Pilot Sport H5 tires, plus 24 softer S5s, with the authorisation to use a total of 30 for the entire event. The soft option was the exclusive choice for Friday’s extremely wet tests since it was important to clear the running water to eke out good grip in the slippery conditions thanks to their compound. Saturday’s lengthy dry portions, then Sunday’s essentially clear conditions prompted the crews to try a variety of combinations.
“Because of the exceptionally variable conditions encountered in the course of the 2015 Tour de Corse, the drivers faced some hard tire choices. Despite the meticulous work of the ‘safety crews’, it wasn’t always easy to choose between the hard- and soft-compound options. It’s in unpredictable conditions like this that the versatility of Michelin’s WRC tires stands out as a big asset because the stage times that were set over the weekend were extremely fast on both types of compound,” noted Jacques Morelli, manager of Michelin’s FIA WRC programme after the event.
After the 244km of competitive action that were effectively covered (332km initially planned), the 2015 Tour de Corse saw victory go to Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, ahead of Evans/Barritt and Mikkelsen/Floene.
The next round of the 2015 World Rally Championship will take teams to Spain’s mixed-surface (asphalt/gravel) Rally RACC Catalunya-Costa Daurada (October 22-25).