The Rock T/A and the All Terrain
With a score of eight Dakar wins to its name, BFGoodrich is the benchmark tyre brand when it comes to cross-country rallies. This year, the firm has broadened its range with the availability of the new All Terrain alongside the Rock T/A.
The newcomer's design and development began practically two years ago in response to the way the discipline has been evolving. "The top rally-raid prototypes have become increasingly competitive and the pace of today's events is faster than ever, so the tyres must be capable of coping with even bigger constraints," explains BFGoodrich developer Michel Maraval.
Not only do today's cars reach speeds of up to 200kph but they also tip the scales at more than two tonnes and the stages themselves take in many hundred kilometres of rough and/or sandy tracks, so the life of a rally-raid tyre is no stroll: on landing after certain jumps, they must be capable of soaking up impacts of up to 3.5 tonnes!
"We started from a clean sheet in the case of the All-Terrain," continues Michel Maraval. "We developed a brand new construction and tread pattern, while the chemists worked on a new compound. The new tyre is wider than the other products in our cross-country range and stronger over sandy surfaces."
Following the initial design and development of the prototype tyre, the next phase was to put it through its paces on the terrain. "This is a long job, since validating a new rally-raid tyre calls for several thousands of kilometres of testing," points out BFGoodrich rally-raid tyre technician Dominique Bravy.
"In addition to the different test sessions organised in association with our factory team partners, we also profited from selected Dakar Series and FIA World Cup events to evaluate the All-Terrain in a competitive environment and collect further valuable information." The All-Terrain covered more than 10,000km in total in the course of 2008.
With six Dakar wins to its credit, plus many more victories in other cross-country events, the BFGoodrich Rock T/A is a tried and tested product. It is robust and versatile and has been successful on all the different types of terrain it has encountered. "In fact, our range features two very competitive and complementary tyres," indicates Michel Maraval. "The Rock T/A is particularly at home on ground with a loose top surface and in mud, while the All-Terrain was developed for harder-wearing territory and sand. Today, the big unknown we and our partners face is what sort of conditions and weather we will come across in South America in January. Showers cannot be ruled out. Depending on the weather forecasts, the vehicle setup (suspension, etc.) and team strategy, our partners will choose either the Rock T/A or the All-Terrain at scrutineering before the start in Buenos Aires, the 2nd of January."