No other round of the FIA World Rally Championship presents teams with such a complex challenge in terms of tyre strategy as the Rallye Monte-Carlo.
This year’s shifting conditions and weather made getting tyre choices right a particularly tough exercise. Some calls may have seemed perplexing for those not directly involved in the sport, but they were all driven by the same quest for optimum performance in the mixed-bag conditions.
From Day 1, Michelin Motorsport’s technical team noted some contrasting options.
The very first stage on Thursday evening was 60-percent snow, while the next test featured icy patches, so we expected all the crews to opt for the MICHELIN Pilot Alpin A41 CL which is equipped with 200 metal studs. The main exception was Thierry Neuville who chose four ‘super-soft’ MICHELIN Pilot Sport SS6 asphalt tyres which were ideal for the clearer portions but which provide less grip on snow and ice. Although this aggressive option meant he was likely to lose ground on the snowy and icy sections, it gave him a chance of pulling back a lot of that handicap elsewhere. On SS1, he effectively dropped a handful of seconds but he declared that the Pilot Sport SS6 had given him more grip than he had been expecting, and he went on to post the fastest time on SS2. It was very satisfying for us to see that this was possible and it provided further evidence of the SS6’s exceptional value on this sort of event.