The MICHELIN LTX Force H4/S4 (WRC) and the MICHELIN Latitude Cross H90/S80 (WRC2) tires end 2016 on a high note
The 44th FIA World Rally Championship concluded with a thrilling contest in Australia where Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jaeger Synnevag steered their Michelin-equipped Volkswagen Polo R WRC to victory. The event was the swansong WRC appearance of Volkswagen Motorsport which bows out after winning four Manufacturers’ world titles in association with the French tire maker.
First included as a WRC qualifier in 1989, Rally Australia is always a popular fixture and its later-than-usual slot in this year’s calendar made it even more of a challenge, as temperatures soared to a good 10°C higher than they would have been in New South Wales in September. Competitors consequently had to cope with additional tire wear on the region’s aggressive stages.
For the last time this year, the WRC runners benefitted from the versatility of the soft- (S4) and hard-compound (H4) versions of the MICHELIN LTX Force tire, while the French firm’s WRC2 partners were able to choose between the MICHELIN LATITUDE Cross H90 (hard) and S80 (soft) tire. These four tires have starred on all the year’s world championship gravel rounds and have taken a uniquely wide range of weather conditions and surface types in their stride thanks not only to their strength, but also to the consistency of the performance they deliver over sometimes very long loops of stages. These properties helped Michelin to showcase the superiority of its solutions against fierce opposition.
First of all, I would like to congratulate and thank Volkswagen Motorsport with whom we enjoyed a first class working relationship during the four seasons we spent together. On the Kennards Hire Rally Australia, they showed they were as motivated and intent on winning as ever. This event, which is always one of the finest of the year, posed several additional challenges due to its later date which led to far hotter weather and higher wear rates on the drier, harder stages. As expected, though, none of our partners had any problems over the three days and they were able to establish their respective strategies in complete peace of mind. Our hard-compound options were understandably the preferred choice but use of the softer variant allowed them to fine-tune their plans at key moments. This year again, our tires played crucial roles on many rounds of the world championship.
Second place behind Volkswagen’s Norwegian crew went to team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, while Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) made it an all-Michelin podium. The Clermont-Ferrand manufacturer came out on top in WRC2, too, thanks to Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm (Skoda Fabia R5).
FIA World Rally Championship action will resume with the Rallye Monte-Carlo on January 18, 2017.