There is concern among the drivers in the World Rally Championship that they could run out of soft-compound Pirelli tires during this week's Rally of France.
With further rain expected in the Alsace area overnight, combined with temperatures around 14 degrees, the hard-compound rubber is said not to be a viable option for the asphalt stages. Each driver has an allocation of 22 soft tires and 24 hard tires for the 11th round of the World Rally Championship.
The drivers are required to fit new tires at each of the five service points, which means that if they use more than two spare covers they will have to venture onto Pirelli's hard option.
Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala admitted the tire limitations could well be a significant factor in the event.
"We're confident we're going to be on the soft tire for the whole event," he said. "OK, we have enough to fit four new tires at every service, but using the spare is not really an option. We're going to have to be careful, it could be quite tough."
The Ford driver added that the right tires were vital for what he felt could be the fastest asphalt stages in the championship.
"There are some sections of stage four where it's extremely fast," he said. "We will be absolutely flat out and going downhill. It will be really quick. And, if it's raining, then this is going to be very interesting..."
The tire debate was raised at this morning's shakedown stage, when the drivers were forced to run on a hard Pirelli tire as their shakedown allocation comes out of the 22 or 24. Citroen Junior's Sebastien Ogier said: "It was not ideal having to run the harder compound. And as well, the shakedown is not really representative of the stages out here, is it?"
Sebastien Loeb put the argument a little more succinctly, adding: "It wasn't a shakedown stage. It was the car park."
A source at Pirelli acknowledged the drivers' concerns over the tire issue, but added: "The allocation was made a long time ago, with the drivers and teams deciding what they wanted. Clearly, there was a feeling the weather would be drier and warmer and the roads possibly more abrasive. At the end of the day, the teams have chosen which tires they want.
"If needed, we could supply more soft compound tires, we have them in the truck, but this is not the rule. Everybody has enough tires for the rally."