Poland - Pirelli - Finish
Pirelli's soft-compound Scorpion tyres delivered a faultless performance on unknown territory, taking the Ford World Rally Team to victory on the debut of the Rally Poland in the FIA World Rally Championship.
Despite having very little information
about the eighth round of the World Rally Championship, which was run on gravel stages close to the holiday resort of Mikolajki, there were no problems with punctures or tyre wear for any of the leading competitors throughout the three-day event.
Conditions were cooler than expected at this time of year in Poland, with occasional rain. Nonetheless, despite the humidity, the stages remained in good condition even when they were used for a second time. Along with the traction and grip provided by the Pirelli Scorpion rubber, this allowed drivers to reach average speeds of close to 130 kph on some of the stages. Ford's excellent result with its Pirelli tyres has set up a thrilling championship duel with just four rounds of the World Rally Championship left to run.
The new World Rally Championship leader and Rally Poland winner Mikko Hirvonen commented: "Actually, I was surprised by just how much traction and grip there was on the stages. I was definitely expecting worse. Even when I was running first on the road, it wasn't really a problem for us. We had quite a wide variety of conditions here, but the car and the tyres coped very well with all of them. I've really enjoyed this rally, and of course it makes the championship quite interesting now..."
Poland was also the sixth round of the Junior World Rally Championship.
A thrilling battle meant that the two candidates for victory - in an R3 car and a Super 1600 car - started the final day separated by less than a second. In the end, it was Dutchman Kevin Abbring who triumphed at the wheel of a Pirelli-equipped Renault Clio R3, becoming the youngest ever winner of a JWRC round.
Pirelli's rally manager Mario Isola concluded: "From our point of view it was a perfect rally. All we had to do was supply the teams with the tyres, and there were no other problems for us to deal with. The wear rate has been excellent, while providing everyone with plenty of grip, and there have been no punctures despite some tricky conditions. Our soft compound gravel tyre - which will be used again in Finland and Britain - is seeing much more use compared to last year, but it has shown itself capable of adapting to a very wide range of different conditions. There was a particularly good fight in the Junior World Rally Championship as well. Unlike the main series, competitors are allowed to cut their tyres in the Junior Championship - adding an extra tactical element."
The next round the World Rally Championship, the legendary Rally Finland, takes place from July 31 to August 2 on fast gravel stages close to Jyvaskyla.