WRC 2018 - Spain - MICHELIN's range and people play key role in Catalonia tyre strategies
This year’s RallyRACC Catalunya turned out to be colder and wetter than the recent Wales Rally GB, which is certainly saying something!
Action kicked off with a super-special in the streets of Barcelona on Thursday evening before crews returned to the service park in Salou, some 80km south of Catalonia’s capital.
Spain’s round is the only mixed-surface fixture of the FIA World Rally Championship, with Friday’s leg an all-gravel affair followed by two days on asphalt on Saturday and Sunday. This specificity means teams need to change the configuration of their respective cars on Friday evening, since the suspension parts, transmission systems and settings they use are different for sealed-surfaces.
To cover the weekend’s unique mix of surface and weather conditions, Michelin’s partners were able to choose between two distinct tyre ranges, namely the H5 (hard compound) and S6 (soft) versions of the MICHELIN Pilot Sport for the asphalt stages, plus the MICHELIN LTX Force H4 (hard) and MICHELIN LTX Force M6 (medium) for the day on dirt. Meanwhile, the French firm’s WRC2 competitors had a choice between the RH3 (hard) and RS (soft) versions of the MICHELIN Pilot Sport asphalt tyre, and between the MICHELIN Latitude Cross H90 (hard) and S80 (soft) for gravel.
When heavy rain swept over the region on Saturday, crews also had the option to fit the MICHELIN Pilot Sport FW3, the specific tread pattern, high ‘sea-to-land’ tread block ratio and oblique lateral water-clearance grooves of which are designed to combine performance on wet roads with resistance to aquaplaning. This ‘full wet’ alternative was ideally suited to the situation but, in line with the rules, only eight were available per car, which led to some understandable head-scratching when it came to making the most judicious choice for the different competitive loops.