Dakar : BFGoodrich - Preview
BFGoodrich tyres will take the start of the most celebrated rally raid in the world on January 5, the 30th Euromilhoes Dakar Rally. In total, the tyre company has won the event eight times – including six consecutive victories with Mitsubishi.
Once more, several factory and privateer teams have chosen the BFGoodrich brand to help take them to the very top step of the podium. The 30th Dakar Rally will get underway from Lisbon on January 5, prior to 6000 kilometres of gruelling competition both on and off road.
BFGoodrich : The brand for 4x4s
« If BFGoodrich has become a benchmark for tyres in the 4x4 segment, this is down to the company's participation in off-road rallies since the start of the 1970s, » says Frédéric Henry-Biabaud, BFGoodrich's competitions director. « Thirty years ago, while the very first Dakar Rally was getting underway from the Place du Trocadero in Paris, BFGoodrich claimed its first success on the Baja 1000 – America's best-known rally raid. BFGoodrich had several other successes but it was only about 20 years later, in 1999, that the brand crossed the Atlantic for an attempt on the most beautiful, legendary and fearsome rally raid of them all : the Dakar.
That first attempt was an outstanding success.
The BFGoodrich-equipped Buggy driven by Jean-Louis Schlesser was first to finish in the two-wheel drive class, ahead of many more competitive 4x4 runners. Today, BFGoodrich has a total of eight victories on the Dakar Rally, including six consecutive wins with its partner Mitsubishi. BFGoodrich also supplies around 80% of the competitors in the ‘car' class each year.
The Dakar Rally has become a core event for BFGoodrich as the company shares many of the values epitomised by this legendary event : adventure, dynamism, bravery and endeavour. For BFGoodrich, the Dakar Rally is also an enormous test bed. All the com- petition tyres and subsequent evolutions, which have been put to the ultimate test of the Dakar, directly influence and benefit BFGoodrich's road tyres. »
Different surfaces, but just one type of tyre for the factory teams
The Dakar Rally route contains a wide variety of surfaces that form a massive challenge for the tyres. The mountain tracks of Morocco are littered with sharp rocks, the sand of Mauritania often hides traps underneath, and the stone roads of Senegal are extremely hard with minimal grip.
The rules state that FIA-seeded drivers are only allowed one type of tyre for all these very different surfaces. « This year, we're giving our teams a tyre identical to that used in 2007, » says Dominique Bravy, BFGoodrich's rally raid technician. « That's not because we haven't done any development: instead it's simply down to the fact that all the teams were extremely satisfied with our leading Rock T/A tyre, both in terms of performance and strength. It's always very difficult to offer a new tyre for the Dakar, as teams are often wary about switching from a tried-and-trusted product – particularly when it has proved to be so effective in the past !»
The full name of the tyre in question is the BFGoodrich Rock T/A, characterised by hard rubber and a unique design that makes it capable of exceptional performance even in the most extreme conditions. « The problem with making tyres for rally raids revolves around the huge variety of conditions encountered, » explains Michel Maraval, the designer of BFGoodrich's rally raid tyres.
« On every event we will come across very different surfaces, but one thing they all have in common is the fact that they are extremely hard on tyres. Despite all this, the teams only have one tyre choice available to them. So our work consists of finding the most versatile solution possible. The tyre has to be fast and efficient on the smoother sections of road, but also capable of setting quick times on the really rough and rocky portions. »
Press Release BFGoodrich