82nd Rallye Monte-Carlo - 2014 FIA World Rally Championship
MICHELIN Pilot Sport and Alpin 4 tyres take Rallye Monte-Carlo elements in their stride
This year saw the Rallye Monte-Carlo live up to its reputation as an exceptionally demanding event where the drivers’ ability to stay one step ahead of the consistently changing weather and make the correct tyre calls played a fundamental role in the final outcome.
Crews found themselves in the thick of adverse weather conditions from Day 1 and, although forecasters predicted snow at altitudes of more than 1,600 metres only, the first stage (Orpierre-Saint André de Rosans 1, which peaked at 1,200m) was covered in a powdery white coating. It was still snowing as the WRC’s elite lined up for the start. Having the right tyres was crucial and those crews who had left service with two MICHELIN Alpin 4s as spares in addition to the Pilot Sport SS2s on their car were at an advantage for the loop.
Thursday’s action finished with an unexpected order, led by BOUFFIER, ahead of MEEKE and KUBICA, while the world champion Sébastien OGIER (VW POLO R WRC) was 47 seconds adrift of the leader.
The Gap-based driver made up for that early deficit on Day 2 which he completed handsomely clear at the top of the leaderboard, 51.1s and 1m38.6s ahead of Bryan BOUFFIER and Kris MEEKE (CITROËN DS3 WRC) respectively. The majority of Friday’s competition took place in pouring rain and the majority of the drivers chose MICHELIN Pilot Sport SS2 tyres for all three loops.
The final day comprised two loops in the mountains north of Monaco. As the coastal region continued to suffer from torrential rain, the icy Col du Turini was under around 30cm of snow for SS12 (La Bollène Vésubie-Moulinet 1). The cars consequently left the service park in the Principality with four studded MICHELIN Alpin 4s, plus two non-studded snow tyres in the boot, with the exception of Elfyn EVANS who opted for two MICHELIN Pilot Sport SS2s as spares. As a result, the crews all benefited from the grip provided by their studs over the infamous mountain pass, before diagonally cross-fitting their non-studded tyres for SS13 (Sospel-Breil sur Roya 1). The same strategy was favoured by most drivers for the second attempt at the same loop, with the exception of Jari-Matti LATVALA who chose to run without any studs at all.
The sharp end of the leaderboard remained unchanged compared with Friday evening’s positions, and Sébastien OGIER and Julien INGRASSIA went on to collect the victory in Monte Carlo. The world champions were joined on the podium by Frenchmen Bryan BOUFFIER/Xavier PANSERI in their M-Sport Ltd-run FORD Fiesta RS WRC and Kris MEEKE/Paul NAGLE in their CITROËN DS3 WRC.
Three of the MICHELIN tyres available for the 2014 Rallye Monte-Carlo were used during the event (all except the harder-compound MICHELIN Pilot Sport S2) and, even though individual allocations were restricted, crews had enough tyres at their disposal to cover all the conditions.
Jacques MORELLI, the manager of MICHELIN’s rally programmes, was pleased with the way the event unfolded on this front: “The exact allocations were established jointly with our partners and the FIA [Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile]. Our calculations proved founded and the drivers were able to cover the mix of conditions they encountered in complete safety.”
“The extreme weather also allowed us to verify the value of our new solutions with a view to carrying them over to both our competition tyres and road tyres.”
The next round of the 2014 FIA WRC will take teams to Sweden and to Norway where cars will compete on 15-inch MICHELIN X Ice-North 2 tyres equipped with more than 380 studs that protrude from the tread by 6.5mm.