Pirelli has claimed two out of three places on the podium at the Monza Rally, beaten only by eight-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb in the factory Citroen DS3 WRC.
Pirelli’s all-star driver line-up included multiple Moto GP champion Valentino Rossi and two-time Le Mans winner Dindo Capello. Rossi was driving a Ford Fiesta RS WRC while Capello took the wheel of another Citroen DS3 WRC.
The two Italians are both regulars at the end-of-season motorsport celebration held at the Monza circuit, but without regular rally competition, they were forced to give best to Loeb. The multitalented Frenchman was World Rally Champion with Pirelli from 2008-2010, when the company was single supplier to the championship, resulting in a tyre failure rate of less than 0.02%. Rossi – co-driven by the experienced Carlo Cassina – came close to Loeb on a number of occasions, before the Frenchman extended his lead to 24.2 seconds at the finish. Rossi and Capello used three different compounds of Pirelli’s RX asphalt rally tyres to cope with the changing temperatures, which dipped as low as three degrees centigrade in the morning with overnight frost. Rossi used the hardest compound tyre, the new RX5B, to beat Loeb twice on the longest stage of the rally.
Both Pirelli drivers also defeated Dani Sordo in the MINI John Cooper Works, which has been a regular podium finisher on asphalt on this year’s World Rally Championship. Rossi then went on to finish second to Loeb at the event-closing Rally Masters tournament: a head-to-head rallysprint that concluded the action at Monza.
The Monza Rally consisted of nine asphalt stages over two days marked out on the famous circuit that is the home of the Italian Grand Prix in Formula One, exclusively supplied by Pirelli this year. Adding to Pirelli’s success at Monza was victory in the Super 2000 class by over a minute for Peugeot Italia driver Paolo Andreucci – who claimed yet another Italian Rally Championship title this year with Pirelli. In a field that was packed with quality WRC entries, Andreucci finished 13th overall, having won his class on all the stages.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “We were very proud to have two such distinguished ambassadors for Pirelli at the Monza Rally, and despite being up against the best rally driver in history in his factory car, they both gave a brilliant account of themselves and of our tyres – especially on the longest and most complex stage of the rally, where Rossi beat Loeb twice and was very pleased with the performance of the RX5B. Being just half an hour from our headquarters in Milan, Monza is an extremely special place for us, and we were delighted to do something special at home, supplying the vast majority of the field at this event. I’d like to congratulate Paolo Andreucci as well, who has rounded off a remarkable year of success with Pirelli – where he won all the rallies on the Italian Championship apart from one – with another great performance at Monza.”
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