• Share to Facebook
  • Share to Twitter

Pirelli at the Safari Rally

Milan, 22 February 2000 – And now to gravel! The same gravel
that last year gave Subaru and Pirelli five wins from the last
seven gravel events from the summer to the end of the season. After
the fine performances in Monte Carlo and a very strange Swedish
Rally with almost no snow two weeks ago, the World Rally
Championship now flies to Kenya for the Safari Rally (February
24-27) for the surface that will last to the end of the year with
the exception of just three asphalt events; Spain, Corsica and San

The Safari Rally is no longer the legendary challenge of a few
years ago with its extremely long length and a format which very
often went beyond the kenyan borders. Today’s event is very close
to the modern ideal with a few competitive sections and very long
‘recovery’ times but it retains the same atmosphere and attraction
of a huge African marathon. These long sections are run at very
high speed on a surface that constantly changes and which is always
very sensitive to weather conditions. It brings to the championship
one of the most difficult technical and sporting challenges, not
just in rallying but also of any form of motorsport.

Pirelli has won many times in Kenya and in 1997, when Colin
McRae’s Subaru was victorious, the ‘long P’ recorded its historic
100th win in the World Rally Championship. This year the
expectations are high thanks to the competitiveness already shown
by the Subarus, also the considerable technical progress made by
SEAT since it joined the championship and Pirelli’s gravel

Pirelli will be in Kenya with a PZero range comprising
approximately 1000 tyres with two tyre tread patterns targetting
maximum durability and resistance to wear and the high temperatures
generated by the hard gravel surface. Last year these tyres gave
Richard Burns some extraordinary results on this event and he was
dominating the rally before being forced to retire with mechanical

Pirelli Desk in Nairobi during the Safari Rally:
Keith Oswin tel. + 254 2 860202


About 1000 tyres in Pirelli’s latest gravel specification will
be in Kenya with a special concern for maximum durability will be
the weapons used by the Pirelli ‘army’ on the Safari Rally. The
PZero gravel range for Kenya is designed primarily to survive the
demands of this unique event and its high speed sections, thanks to
the construction of the tyres made specially for this event. This
construction is designed to balance strength and performance.

Also the development work on the Safari version of the EMI
anti-deflation system continues and it will be available for use on
some competitive sections in Kenya.

This is the PZero range for Kenya in detail:


XR(Size 225/55-15)

Type: A tyre for dry gravel
Compund options: One
Description: This tyre has a very ‘full’ tread design and is
constructed to the maximum width allowed by the regulations. New
technical developments have brought high durability and performance
in any conditions.


K(Size 205/65-15)

Type: A tyre for damp and/or wet gravel
Compound options: One
Description: This has a narrower tread than the XR tyre for maximum
handling and traction on soft surfaces. If there is the presence of
deep mud this tyre can be hand-grooved.


3 Subaru Impreza WRC: Burns-Reid , Kankkunen-Repo and
2 SEAT Cordoba WRC: Auriol-Giraudet, Gardemeister-Lukander
1 Mitsubishi Lancer Gr.N: Stvhl

Pirelli will also be supporting other teams not contesting the
World Championship


Last year I was leading before my suspension broke and so I’m going
back to finish the job I started in 1999. The route has changed a
lot this year with many stages being run the opposite direction to
last year. We can only recce in standard cars and so a lot of
things will be new to us. At least I know I can rely on the tyres.
I start every rally with the intention of winning but in the case
of the Safari I’ve got more confidence of success than on some
other rallies.

We had the best tyres for the event last year but because of a
frustrating electrical problem I never got the chance to see just
how much better they were. You only had to look at Richard’s
performance to see that we can go back to Kenya this year with
every confidence of winning the rally. Of course anything can
happen on the Safari but that’s the nature of the event.

This will be the first time I have used the latest Pirelli tyres on
the Safari so I can only rely on what people have told me about how
good they are for this event. Tommi Makinen has shown it’s possible
to win while driving flat out but I think you still have to be very
careful and save your tyres for when you can completely trust the
conditions. It’s a very dangerous rally on open roads.

This is my first Safari as a competitor. Last year I drove a gravel
car for Harri Rovanpera and so I’m not a complete stranger to the
event. It’s going to be difficult finding the right speed to go
quickly without taking big risks. So many things can happen in
Kenya but I’m confident that Pirelli will provide the best tyres
for us to be competitive.


Monte Carlo 20-22 January Asphalt/snow/ice
Richard Burns (Subaru-Pirelli) was in second place and chasing a
possible victory when his car failed to start the second day. Juha
Kankkunen (Subaru-Pirelli) finished third after setting a stunning
fastest time on Sisteron while SEAT-Pirelli’s young Finn Toni
Gardemeister was acclaimed as a star of the rally in fourth.

Sweden 10-13 February Snow/ice/gravel
Richard Burns claimed a few stage wins as well as being extremely
competitive during the first leg and looking to challenge the
leader. Unfortunately the high speeds of the event did not allow
following drivers to close on the leader’s pace. Subaru finished
fifth and sixth while SEAT suffered a few technical problems in

Safari 24-27 February Gravel
Portugal 16-19 March Gravel
Catalunya 30 March-2 April Asphalt
Argentina 11-14 May Gravel
Acropolis 8-11 June Gravel
New Zealand 13-16 July Gravel
Finland 17-20 August Gravel
China 7-10 September Gravel
Corsica 28 September-1 October Asphalt
San Remo 12-15 October Asphalt
Australia 9-12 November Gravel
Great Britain 23-26 November Gravel