Despite the World Rally Championship running a control tire, Pirelli engineer Matteo Braga says the drivers can still make a big difference to the performance of their covers on this week's Rally of Portugal.
The conditions in the lead-up to the sixth round of the World Rally Championship have been hot and dry, leaving the roads inland from the event's Algarve base dusty and abrasive. A neat and tidy style is a must for drivers to get the most out of the tires – particularly on Saturday afternoon's repeated loop when the ambient temperature will be higher and the competitors return to the event's longest two stages.
All of the crews will use Pirelli's hard-compound Scorpion tire, which cannot be modified under the regulations of the control tire.
"We saw in Portugal last year that some drivers would complete a stage with 40 percent more wear than other drivers, even though the tire is the same for all and they were not the fastest," said Braga. "Like Pirelli's road car tires, the WRC tire is designed to be very durable while maintaining a strong level of performance. On hard and abrasive roads we have to expect significant tire wear and some damage to the tread pattern but it really does depend on how the drivers use the tires."
"Conditions look as if they will be hot and dry and that will be tough for the tires," said Ford's Mikko Hirvonen. "On the second pass, once the loose stones have been swept away, the grip will be good, but abrasive, so we'll have to manage our tires well."