Michelin tires contribute to a spectacular show in Mexico
The Rally Guanajuato Mexico 2015 ended today, Sunday, March 8, with another victory for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. The French duo put their N°1 Michelin-equipped Volkswagen Polo R WRC on the top step of the podium after a polished display. Helped by a bold but effective tire choice, they pulled out a useful lead on Friday before their cushion was extended as their biggest threats encountered a variety of problems.
A high number of front-runners were effectively caught out by the slippery stages and few WRC crews didn’t have to make use of the Rally2 ruling to reach the finish.
Ogier/Ingrassia were joined on the podium by two Norwegians who revelled in the slippery conditions, since Citroën DS3 WRC pair Mads Ostberg/Jonas Andersson and Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene were second and third respectively.
Rally Guanajuato Mexico 2015 was an important event for Michelin whose new MICHELIN LTX Force H4 and S4 gravel tires were making their first appearance on the North American round.
Gravel rallies are the most frequent on the World Rally Championship calendar, with nine out of 13 rounds in 2015. Each one throws up its own unique challenge because of its specific stages, profile and weather.
In Mexico, when the conditions are dry, the surface is generally coated in a covering of loose sand and gravel which makes ‘road sweeping’ a particularly influential parameter. This year, the stages were slippery for the second passes, too. The twisty tests also featured a high number of steep climbs and descents, while the weather is generally hot and sunny because of the high altitudes visited by the event. Together, these factors are a tough test for tires.
Jacques Morelli, the manager of Michelin’s FIA WRC programme, was upbeat about the performance of the MICHELIN LTX Force H4 and S4 tires after the finish: “Our new tires were perfectly up to the task and delivered good grip despite the slippery conditions, as well as excellent durability on the long, hot stages. They were consistently the most competitive tires in the WRC1 class and they also took a handsome victory in WRC2.”
The WRC2 class was won by Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah and his co-driver Matthieu Baumel (Ford Fiesta RRC) who reaped the benefits of a fast, consistent run.
In addition to the hot weather, competitors were given a warm welcome by the spectators who turned out in their tens of thousands on the stages and in the service park in Leon where Michelin provided them with an entertaining stand in the paddock.
The next round of the 2015 FIA WRC will take teams to Villa Carlos Paz for Rally Argentina on April 23-26. This time, the nominated tire will be the soft-compound MICHELIN LTX Force S4 tire, while the harder H4 variant will be available if the weather is exceptionally hot for the time of year.