M-Sport calls for more resistant rain tires

M-Sport is asking Pirelli to beef up its wet tires in the WRC after a series of punctures that marred the first two stages of Rally Croatia.

Whatever the identity of the winner, in a few hours the Croatian Rally will be marked by numerous tire problems among the various participants. The wet roads and the deep fog did not help the situation on the Croatian tarmac, the drivers had numerous cuts in their rubbers, real niches for the mud and gravel.

The rain tires supplied by Pirelli have only rarely been used in the championship in the past, which has led to a lack of experience of the drivers and the teams on this type of compound. The latter were also used in competition for the first time only this weekend since the start of the hybrid era.

As a result, no fewer than five of the eleven cars suffered a puncture with the wet tire on Friday, with race leader Kalle Rovanperä joining the list the following day. While the latter has been able to maintain its lead in the event thus far, other entrants like Elfyn Evans haven’t had the same luck.

The Welshman did indeed have the pace in Croatia to aim for the podium, but two punctures at the front left put an end to his top-3 ambitions on Friday morning, while Toyota team-mate Takamoto Katsuta suffered a similar fate in the afternoon, as did Ott. Tänak.

However, the record goes to M-Sport, whose drivers were the main target of punctures. Pierre-Louis Loubet punctured three times in two stages, forcing him to stop on the first day of the rally, while his team-mate Gus Greensmith had to change tires four times.

Little experience of the teams on the rain tire

Unusual statistics, and one that made the head of the British structure, Richard Millener, react. The latter therefore means that Pirelli will have to revise its copy in the future and strengthen its wet tires: “It’s something we need to look at pretty soon”so he indicated to Motorsport.com Friday night. “I want a more resistant tire. We rarely use the wet tire and we knew very well before this rally that it would get wet. So we looked at our history to collect data on this compound, but it must have been a few years since we last used it.”

“If you have a tire that you only use occasionally, you don’t put a lot of money and effort into it, which is completely understandable. But what’s happening here underscores the need to see what we can do with these cars and under these conditions.Even if nothing happens, we need to have a discussion about this because it’s not fair to the drivers and the teams, as we spend a lot of money to race the best we can.Making a mistake is understandable, but when it’s so many drivers and teams, I think we should discuss it together. We should all sit down after the event and give our feedback on it and see what we can do. It’s not an attack on Pirelli at all. It’s the last thing they need, but it is that we have to solve this problem.”

In response to this appeal from the head of M-Sport, Pirelli’s rally manager, Terenzio Testoni, said there were no “no need to panic”and that the number of punctures was not unusual, explaining that the extreme conditions were a contributing factor.

Towards a meeting to solve the problem

Testoni also revealed that Hyundai had used the wet tires without any problems during a test for Rally Croatia, also conducted in poor conditions. “If you look at what happened yesterday, it matches what we expected”explained the Italian manager, also to: Motorsport.com“In total we had eight damaged tires in Rally1, three of which had lug nuts completely destroyed, so for me we really only had five punctures. Five punctures in one day, I’m not sure that should cause a major panic. It’s also the first time in two years that the teams have run with the rain specification.Obviously our team needs to gain experience on this point.But during the test [mené avec Hyundai avant le Rallye de Croatie], everything went well. What we do know is that the conditions are very difficult. If the grip and visibility are very low, you’ll be driving anywhere but the road, and that’s what happens to the tires. Of course we have to wait until the rally is over to really analyze what happened, and of course we are going to meet all the teams to have their opinion on this, but for me there is no need to panic at the moment. I would start to worry if we had about 20 flats.”

And the head of Pirelli’s activities in the WRC adds: “We have not yet strengthened the wet tire in Rally1, for two reasons: firstly because it is only used 5% of the season and secondly because we know from the experience we have in the ERC that it is otherwise very solid. But the fact is that the conditions we had yesterday were very bad. At the moment we are collecting information from the teams, but we are not panicking. We are always looking for new technologies for our wet and dry tires.”

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