For the penultimate contest in this season’s World Rally
Championship we fly to Australia and its unique gravel surface. The
so-called ‘rolling stones’ have written their own page in the
history books of the sport. The presence of either a large or small
amount of this loose gravel on the surface of the Special Stages
has a dramatic effect – which can be further altered by the weather
conditions – on the times set by the drivers. For this reason,
Rally Australia presents a major and unique technical challenge for
round 13 of this season’s super-competitive season. The final dash
for the titles, all of which remain undecided, takes place on
gravel (including the final contest in Britain later this month)
with 6 points covering the top 4 drivers and with 20 points
covering the top 3 Manufacturers bidding for success.
Unfortunately the San Remo Rally last month saw Richard Burns,
the ‘point man’ for Pirelli in 2000, forced to retire from the
event once again for mechanical problems. Nevertheless the target
remains to give Burns and Subaru the chance to perform at their
best on the final two rounds of the season. So far this season
Subaru and Pirelli have taken three gravel victories (bringing to
116 the total number of wins on the World Rally Championship for
the Italian tyres). The mid-summer problems have cost Burns and
Subaru the top position in the series but both have always shown
great potential for victory on all surfaces and in all conditions
encountered this season. Also Burns has won nearly twice as many
Stages as his closest rival so far this year.
The home stretch of the World Championship re-imposes the 2000
rule where teams have only two tread patterns from which to choose.
The Pirelli PZero range specially created for Australia relies on
the K and KM patterns. Within these patterns there is a diverse
choice of compounds and evolutions designed to offer the perfect
choice for every environmental condition, coupled with high
performance and low tyre wear.
THE ROLLING STONES
A range of 2000 tyres in two different tread patterns (including
the latest evolution KM pattern) – all fitted with the EMI
anti-deflation system in its latest evolution – will be at the
disposal of the Pirelli-equipped teams in Australia. The
characteristic ‘key’ to this event is finding the right rhythm on
the ‘rolling stones’, the small and round gravel balls that
dramatically affect performance on every stage of the event.
Australia sees a return to the 2000 regulation where each company
can choose just two tread patterns although compound choice within
those patterns remains free.
FOR HARD SURFACES AND LIGHT GRAVEL
K (Size 205/65-15)
Type: A tyre for hard and clean surfaces
Compound options: Level 2, 4 (base) and 6
Description: An evolution version is available for the Level 2
compound while all the K pattern tyres are designed to be hand cut
to further optimise traction and lateral grip levels.
FOR DAMP OR WET SURFACES
KM (Size 205/65-15)
Type: A tyre for soft, damp or muddy surfaces
Compound options: Level 2, 4 and 6
Description: Level 2 has an evolution version available and will be
the base tyre for the event. Level 4 is for damp surfaces and Level
6 for wet roads.
NOTE: The higher the compound number, the softer the tyre.
THE PIRELLI TEAM IN AUSTRALIA
4 Subaru Impreza WRC2000: Burns-Reid, Kankkunen-Repo, Solberg-Mills
2 SEAT Cordoba WRC E3: Auriol-Giraudet &
1 Subaru Impreza WRC99: Bourne
1 Subaru Impreza AllStars: Al Wahaibi
5 Mitsubishi Lancer Group N: Stohl, Trelles, Pozzo, Paasonen &
…plus other teams not regularly contesting the World Rally
OUR DRIVERS SAID…
Obviously I was disappointed not to get something from San Remo
after we’d been competitive at the start. However, Australia (and
Rally GB that follows) are two of the strongest events for me, for
Subaru and for Pirelli. I’m going to go out and win both of them -
it’s as simple as that!
Rally Australia is one of my favourite rallies. I’ve competed on
nearly all of the 13 events there and won four of them so I know
how to rise to the unique challenge of the ‘ball bearing’ gravel
that makes this event so tricky. I missed the last two asphalt
events so I’m really keen to get back into the Subaru again.
Because of the special road surface, Rally Australia is one of the
most difficult events. It can be very slippery, even when it’s dry,
and the car’s handling is very important. We will start the rally a
bit further down the order and so the roads should be cleaner for
me than for the other guys and that could be good.
After so many events early in the year that I haven’t done before,
Rally Australia is one I know. I’ve been there twice before and
it’s a good event. I only finished 16th last year with the Cordoba
and so I’ll be hoping to be higher this time. We all enjoy this
event, there’s a great atmosphere and a good party afterwards!
TWO 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 restart 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
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 finished 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
The debut of the Subaru Impreza WRC2000 saw Burns take immediate
command, lose the lead with hydraulic problems, regain it and then
lose it once more before finally taking a winning lead on the final
day. Kankkunen crashed out while SEAT-Pirelli finished ninth and
10th to confirm the performance of PZero gravel tyres.
Catalunya 30 March-2 April Asphalt
The Subaru Impreza WRC2000 proves impressively quick on asphalt. In
a wet first leg, Burns takes command thanks to the N-pattern tyre
before battling for the lead with the Ford of McRae who eventually
takes a narrow win over Burns. Burns, however, consolidates his and
Subaru-Pirelli’s lead in the World Championship.
Argentina 11-14 May Gravel
Home again on gravel and the Subaru-Pirelli team was unbeatable.
Richard Burns gave a driving lesson after overcoming an early
overheating problem with the Subaru Impreza WRC2000, taking command
and holding it to the finish. Once again Group N, with Mitsubishi,
was wholly Pirelli’s domain.
Acropolis 8-11 June Gravel
A difficult gravel contest with the Subarus and SEATs giving their
Pirelli tyres a hard test thanks to the extremely rough Greek
roads. Group N was again the sole domain of Pirelli. Unfortunately
Burns did not make the finish but third place for Juha Kankkunen’s
Impreza WRC2000 ensured a good points score.
New Zealand 13-16 July Gravel
Bad luck for Subaru-Pirelli, especially for Richard Burns. After
suffering through running first on the road for leg one, on a very
dirty surface, the Englishman recovered from eighth to third on leg
two but retired on the third day with an identical mechanical
failure to that of team mate Juha Kankkunen.
Finland 17-20 August Gravel
Until the beginning of leg two Burns was challenging for victory
but a violent accident put his Subaru Impreza WRC2000 out of the
event on the first stage of the second day and his dream
disappeared. Kankkunen scored some fastest times but had an unlucky
event despite the PZero range rising to the Finnish challenge.
Cyprus 7-10 September Gravel
Burns was always in the battle for victory on this event, winning
seven stages, but the Englishman was restricted to fourth overall
by mechanical problems. Despite the problems Burns and Subaru
continue to challenge for the championship. Once again
Mitsubishi-Pirelli dominated Group N
Corsica 28 September-1 October Asphalt
The asphalt event started well for Burns, fastest on the first
stage for Subaru-Pirelli. Unfortunately the changeable weather and
an uncomfortable balance with the Impreza WRC2000 cost Richard the
chance to challenge the Peugeots and the Ford of Carlos Sainz.
Nevertheless fourth place closed the gap to the series leader.
San Remo 19-22 October Asphalt
Burns was fastest on the opening stage and then he found no
problems staying with the leading Peugeot. But on the second day an
accident damaged the Impreza’s engine and Richard had to withdraw.
SEAT also had troubles leaving Subaru holding 7th and 9th, with
Jean-Joseph and Solberg respectively.
Australia 9-12 November Gravel
Great Britain 22-26 November Gravel
Milan, 3 November 2000