Mikko Hirvonen has admitted the warmer than expected weather at Rally Argentina will test Michelin's soft-compound gravel tire to the limit this week.
The Villa Carlos Paz-based event is the first rally of the season to run the softer Michelin tire and the Finn admitted to being concerned at the durability of the cover after three runs around the shakedown stage this morning.
"I did 18 kilometers at shakedown this morning," he said, "and I was surprised at how much the tire was wearing. I think we're going to be on the limit for this tire, it's going to be close [to wearing out]."
The organizers of the event have installed an additional tire-changing zone after the first Saturday morning stage, which is mostly asphalt.
"If they hadn't done that, it would have been really difficult for the tire," said Hirvonen. "That first stage is twisty and will work the stage quite hard and we then have three more stages after that."
The drivers are concerned about the speed of the asphalt section at the end of the El Condor stage tomorrow, and have requested tight control of the spectators in sections where they will be cutting corners flat in top gear with little or no grip left on the tires. Hirvonen said the 30-mile Ascochinga test on Sunday caused no concern for the tire.
"There's no real mileage around it," he said. "I don't think we'll have to manage the tire at all in there – we can just go flat-out; it's one stage."
The weather in Argentina at this time of the year is notoriously difficult to predict. Few will forget the monsoon-like conditions which hit the event in 2008, when the nominated tire was a hard compound and completely unsuited to the muddy roads.