Tour de Corse - BFGoodrich - Preview
Just four days after the finish ceremony of the RallyRACC Catalunya, which ended in a Citroën/BFGoodrich one-two for Sebastien Loeb
and Dani Sordo, Thursday will see the World Rally Championship's stars line up for the start of next weekend's
Rallye de France-Tour de Corse.
Loeb will be looking for another win on his home event in an attempt to edge even closer to Marcus Grönholm who currently tops the Drivers' championship standings by six points.
In the course of its 50-year history, there have been some memorable Tours of Corsica, but perhaps the most impressive of the Mediterranean island's 'tours' - which can also be translated as 'tower' - is the 16th Century Tour de Campomoro.
Built in 1586 by the Genovese to protect the island from invaders and pillagers, it stands majestically on the coast of the Valinco Gulf. This Friday, however, instead of warding off marauding visitors from across the sea, it will serve as an unmistakable landmark for competitors and spectators on the 2007 Tour de Corse heading for the start of SS2.
The event itself promises to be a bumper edition, with no fewer than 17 WRC cars on the entry list and, for the first time in two years, four manufacturers due to line up for the start.
Indeed, in addition to Citroën, Ford and Subaru, Suzuki has chosen the thirteenth round of the championship to launch its new BFGoodrich-equipped SX4 WRC.
The weekend is likely to be a huge challenge for the Japanese carmaker, if only because the Tour de Corse is probably the most exacting asphalt round of the entire season. The island's twisty, bumpy roads call for faultless transmission and suspension, its steep climbs require an extremely efficient powertrain and its giddy descents dictate impeccable braking, while the event as a whole needs the cars and their tyres to work in perfect harmony.
For BFGoodrich, too, the Tour de Corse stands out a significant challenge. Its stages are almost certainly the toughest of the year and rarely give tyres a chance to recover in between the demands made on them when accelerating and under braking. They must also be capable of withstanding the continuous weight transfers engendered by the countless corners and also deal with potentially hot asphalt, rain and carpets of fallen chestnuts. Corsica may well be the ideal holiday destination for tourists, but for the g-Force Profiler it offers no respite whatsoever!
The difficulty is further compounded by the potentially changeable weather conditions that frequently blow in over the island at this time of year. To complicate matters, heavy showers can break over one side of a mountain yet leave the other entirely dry, making tyre choices something of a lottery at times.
This year's visit to Corsica will also be the scene of a further clash between Loeb and Grönholm who are split by just six points in the provisional Drivers' standings. It is here that the Frenchman sprang to international attention back in 2000 and he starts his home round as odds-on favourite. His Finnish rival finished second here in 2006, however, and adding the legendary Tour de Corse to his list of wins would be a fitting way to end his glittering WRC career.
BFGoodrich and the Rallye de France
Dry asphalt: g-Force Profiler
g-Force Profiler '0+': soft compound for cool weather and/or damp conditions.
g-Force Profiler '2-': medium-soft compound (temperatures between 10 and 15°C).
g-Force Profiler '2': medium compound (temperatures between 15 and 25°C).
g-Force Profiler '2+': medium-hard compound for high temperatures.
Wet asphalt: g-Force Profiler H
g-Force Profiler H0: soft compound (temperatures between 8 and 12°C). The pattern of this 'intermediate' tyre can be 're-cut' to obtain a full rain tyre.
g-Force Profiler H0: soft compound (temperatures between 15 and 25°C). The pattern of this 'intermediate' tyre can be 're-cut' to obtain a full rain tyre.
All BFGoodrich's tyres for WRC cars are equipped with a run-flat system.
Additional grooves can be hand-carved into the tread pattern. Tyre quota for priority drivers: a maximum of 65 tyres, of which 42 may be used.
Two types of pattern are authorised.