Michelin WRC boss, Aime Chatard has pledged that their tyres will be competitive in all conditions this weekend, whatever the Rallye Deutschland throws up.

Germany first joined the WRC back in 2002 and now stands out as an extremely atypical asphalt event.

First of all, it is atypical through the wide variety of stages it features, from the narrow lanes that twist up and down the Mosel Valley vineyards, to the wide, fast roads of the Saarland forests and the cut-up concrete tracks of the Baumholder army ranges.

"The combination of asphalt, concrete and stone is very aggressive on the tyres and calls for a tyre that provides strong resistance to puncturing," explained Chatard. "The roads are cut-up by the continuous passage of military vehicles, while the risk of damage to rims is increased by the presence of cement blocks situated either side of the road. This event is a big challenge for tyres."

Germany is also atypical through its traditional changeable weather and the late-summer storms that frequently break out over the Saarland and Hunsruck regions. The weather is so fickle that tyre choice can be a big problem, a nightmare even. A low temperature tyre for the damp will degrade very quickly on dry roads, while a dry weather tyre is a big handicap in the wet or damp.

"Deutschland Rally competitors can also be likened to single-handed yachtsman who rely on information supplied by their land-based weather routers, who monitor wind changes to calculate the ideal itinerary," added Chatard.

"This weekend, victory will be a driver's victory influenced by the judiciousness of the choices made from the six or seven available options when nominating their individual lists before the event, and also by the best choices made in the service park by the driver, his engineer and Michelin technician. It's very much teamwork.

"But then we might have bright summer sunshine and clear blue skies to 'simplify' things."

Despite these factors though Michelin are nothing less than confident and since their FP range of tyres was first employed on the 1998 Sanremo Rally, Michelin have won every asphalt round in the WRC except one. They have also won the last three events in Germany with Sebastien Loeb and Citroen and as such have every reason to feel confident.

"The Michelin TA wet weather tyre won all the 2004 Deutschland Rally stages that took place in the wet. The same tyre has also won in atrocious rain, such as the conditions encountered in the 2003 Rally d'Espana," continued Chatard.

"On the dry, the Michelin N has gone unbeaten since 1998 - it's most recent win being this year's Monte Carlo Rally with Sebastien Loeb. We have a competitive solution for all conditions. That said tyre choice promises to be decisive this weekend in Germany and decisions will have to be taken at the service park for stages that are scheduled to start up to three hours later. That's a big gap for an asphalt event."

 

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