The MICHELIN LTX Force H4 and S4 (WRC) and LATITUDE CROSS H90 and S80 (WRC2) tires take the spoils in Poland
Compared with the 2014 event, around 90 percent of the route was new but the stages were just as fast, with top speeds of almost 200kph on roads barely wider than the cars, covered by a thin top-coating of sand which concealed a hard-packed, abrasive base. The total route length was 1,204.65km, including 325.15km divided into 19 stages. Along with Rally Finland (July 31-August 2), Rally Poland is one of the fastest and most challenging gravel events of the championship.
Once again, the MICHELIN LTX Force H4 (hard compound) and S4 (soft) tires rose to the occasion to deliver a winning combination of safety, strength, performance and longevity. After Friday’s challenging long leg, which didn’t provide any opportunity to service the cars between loops, Jari-Matti LATVALA (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) was swift to praise his Michelin tires: “I opted for the hard compound and it was a good choice because they held up well. The top three cars are covered by 10 seconds at the moment…”
Michelin’s tires continued to prove reliable until the end of the event which was ultimately won by Frenchmen Sébastien OGIER/Julien INGRASSIA (Volkswagen Polo R WRC), ahead of team-mates Andreas MIKKELSEN/Ola FLOENE and Ott TANAK/Raigo MOLDER (Ford Fiesta WRC).
New WRC2 tires: the MICHELIN Latitude Cross H90 and S80
Two new tires – the MICHELIN Latitude Cross H90 (hard compound) and the MICHELIN Latitude Cross S80 (soft) – made their debut in Poland in the WRC2 class. Everything but the tread pattern is new, including a more flexible crown and side walls. As a result, the WRC2 runners were able to use a softer compound than their WRC counterparts, with a bigger contact patch which helped to combat the phenomenon of wear. These new tires are also 1.9kg lighter than their WRC equivalents (14.5kg vs 16.4kg).
A one-two finish first time out!
Although only seven of the 27 WRC2 starters were on Michelin rubber, the French firm collected its second one-two finish of the season in the class and its first on dirt – the other was on January’s Rallye Monte-Carlo (wintry asphalt).
The Polish round’s WRC2 winners in the Mazurian Lake District in northern Poland were Finland’s Esapekka LAPPI/Janne FERME (Skoda Fabia R5) who finished ahead of their Swedish team-mates Pontus TIDEMAND/Emil AXELSSON. Both cars ran the new MICHELIN Latitude Cross H90 and S80 tires.
Said Jacques MORELLI, manager of Michelin’s World Rally Championship programme: “The Lotos Rally Poland provided a great show for spectators and some very fast stages, like those we will see in Finland in just over three weeks’ time. In the WRC battle, the MICHELIN LTX Force fulfilled its mission to the letter and left our driver partners free to focus on their driving. We are also very pleased with the performance of the new tires we have developed for the WRC2 class. Our first one-two finish of the year on dirt says a great deal about the work carried out by our engineers and I would also like to congratulate the two Skoda crews who posted a number of times that were up with those of certain WRC competitors.”
The nominated tires for the 2015 Rally Poland were the soft-compound versions of the MICHELIN LTX Force (S4) and the MICHELIN Latitude Cross (S80). A number of the harder ‘H’ versions were also available, however, and some crews used them towards the end of the rally, as a function of the occasionally high temperature and the state of the stages which became rutted in places.