WRC 2017 - A conclusive Corsica test for the MICHELIN Pilot Sport H5 tires
Following the strategy that Michelin Motorsport revealed in Mexico with regard to its gravel WRC tyres, MICHELIN decided to use the 2017 Tour de Corse-Rallye de France as a test for the asphalt tyres that are used this season by the latest-generation World Rally Cars which combine extra power with impressive aerodynamic configurations and an active centre differential that evens out front and rear tyre-wear more uniformly.
Corsica has long been known as a demanding test not only for the drivers, but also for their cars and tires, and Michelin had three solutions for the event, namely the soft- (S5) and hard-compound (H5) versions of the MICHELIN Pilot Sport, plus the 2017-specification of its ‘Full Wet’ rain tire, the MICHELIN Pilot Sport FW3.
In the end, the weekend’s weather turned out to be clear and dry throughout and Michelin’s partners consequently opted for the ‘hard’ MICHELIN Pilot Sport H5 from start to finish.
Its WRC2 runners, meanwhile, benefited from a new hard-compound tire, the MICHELIN Pilot Sport R H3, which Michelin registered with the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) in January and which features a new tread compound. It builds on the successful career of its predecessor – the MICHELIN Pilot Sport R H2 – but gets up to its ideal working temperature more quickly and delivers enhanced lateral grip.
The 2017 Tour de Corse-Rallye de France was a particularly crucial rally for Michelin which used the round as a full-scale test of its new WRC2 tire while at the same time evaluating the performance of its existing WRC tires with a view to steering their future evolution.
The MICHELIN Pilot Sport H5 was developed with the higher performance of the new World Rally Cars in mind and it already had a significant margin for development built into its specification last year. There is clearly less margin this season but we are still amply within the road map we set ourselves. Given the characteristics of this year’s cars, the performance it delivers is nicely balanced, so we have no plans to modify it in the near future. It is fine for the season’s other asphalt rallies, like Rallye Deutschland which tends to be less abrasive than Corsica. With regard to our latest WRC2 tire, the MICHELIN Pilot Sport R H3, we had high expectations. Early feedback from the drivers has been very positive and we took advantage of the scope for improvement it had in terms of durability to upgrade its global performance, notably in terms of lateral grip. The drivers like how it feels and it also climbs to its working temperature more quickly. Given all these positive results, I think we can say that the 2017 Tour de Corse-Rallye de France was a big success for us.