Milan, 10 March 2000 – Pirelli flies on to Portugal for the
4th round of the World Rally Championship (March 16-19) from a
brilliant result on the gravel of Kenya’s Safari Rally, Pirelli’s
114th success in the championship. It was an extremely positive
result, not only because of the 1-2 result for the Subaru-Pirelli
Imprezas of Richard Burns and Juha Kankkunen, the third place
achieved by SEAT-Pirelli’s Didier Auriol and Pirelli’s total
domination of the top three Group N places but also because of the
extreme durability of the PZero range of gravel tyres. Only Pirelli
survived Kenya with very few punctures (Subaru suffered none at
all) despite not using the EMI anti-deflation system on the rough
roads and in extremely high temperatures. This result reflected the
PZero tyres’ high technical qualities and renowned durability.
Now the championship returns to Europe and the gravel stages
that form the heart of the competition. In reality there are two
distinct types of gravel in Portugal. One is very hard and
demanding for tyres, typified by the stages in the Arganil region.
The other is sandy and much faster making traction and driveability
crucial. If it is raining then the event can change dramatically.
Pirelli aims to counter these demands with two tread types, K and
KM. Both have contributed significantly to Pirelli’s five wins from
the last seven gravel rallies of 1999.
Pirelli has won many times in Portugal, starting in the 1970s
with Fiat and Lancia before moving through Toyota and in more
recent times with the Subarus of Carlos Sainz (1995) and Colin
McRae (1998). This time again the expectations are high, helped by
the expected debut of the new Subaru Impreza in Portugal.
Pirelli arrives in Portugal with a PZero gravel range of around
1500 tyres in two tread patterns as demanded by the new FIA
regulations for gravel events (with the exception of the Safari).
The Portuguese PZero range is the result of a major test programme
carried out by both Subaru and SEAT in recent months.
TWO TREADS FOR PORTUGAL
About 1500 tyres, the fruit of the evolutions following recent
gravel tests, will be the weaponry available to Pirelli drivers in
Portugal. This time the tyres will all be equipped with the latest
generation EMI anti-deflation system.
This year’s technical regulations demand that each tyre supplier
makes available only two tread patterns for gravel events, each
nominated to – and approved by – the FIA. Within these patterns,
the number of compounds remains free.
This is the PZero range for Portugal in detail:
FOR HARD GRAVEL…
K: Size 205/65-15
Type: A tyre for hard gravel
Compound options: Three: Step 2, 4 and 6
Description This tyre is used on very hard and compact gravel. The
hard compound Step 2 is used in the dry, Step 4 when damp or wet
and Step 6 when temperatures are below 10 degrees Centigrade.
FOR SOFT AND SANDY GRAVEL…
KM: Size 205/65-15
Type: A tyre for soft and sandy gravel
Compound options: Three: Step 2, 4 and 6
Description This tyre will be used on soft or sandy gravel. The
different compunds will be used in the same different ways as in
the K pattern tyre.
NOTE: The higher the compound number, the softer the
THE 11-STRONG PIRELLI TEAM FOR PORTUGAL
2 Subaru Impreza WRC Burns-Reid and Kankkunen-Repo 3 SEAT Cordoba
WRC Auriol-Giraudet, Gardemeister- Lukander and
Rovanpera-Pietilainen 6 Mitsubishi Lancer Gr.N Stvhl, Trelles,
Sanchez, Menzi, Pozzo, Galli
Pirelli will also be supporting other teams not contesting the
OUR DRIVERS SAID…
We will have the new Subaru for Portugal so that is quite exciting
and will give us even more performance. On the tyre front there
shouldn’t be any real problems for us, Pirelli has good tyres for
both dry and wet conditions. I won’t be worried whatever the
There’s no such thing as an easy event but Portugal shouldn’t be a
problem. There are a lot of new things; a new car and some new tyre
developments. We’ve made big steps forward and we’ll be using
similar tyres to those in Australia which worked very well of
course. There’s a big difference between a wet or a dry Portugal
but we are well covered with Pirelli.
Portugal is an event I enjoy but again it’s a new challenge for me
with this new car! It’s not one of the most difficult events and
every time I have finished it’s been in the top three. It’s quite
an easy event if it’s dry but it’s a lot harder when it’s wet,
especially around Arganil where you can also have fog in the
I don’t know Portugal very well. Last year was the first time I
have competed there and I retired quite early so I’ve got some
things to learn. The stages can be quite rough and so we will rely
a lot on Pirelli’s EMI anti-deflation system to avoid
11 MORE ROUNDS TO… THE END OF THE WORLD
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
Burns claimed a few stage wins as well as being extremely
competitive during the first leg and was looking to challenge the
leader. Unfortunately the high speeds of the event did not allow
the chasing drivers to significantly cut the leader’s advantage.
Subaru finished fifth and sixth while SEAT suffered a few technical
problems in tenth.
Safari 24-27 February Gravel
No punctures for Subaru as Pirelli dominated the event from start
to finish. Burns won from Kankkunen while Didier Auriol was third
for SEAT-Pirelli. Pirelli enjoyed absolute domination in Group N.
In a hard event from a technical point of view the durability of
the PZero range was the key to Pirelli’s success.
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