Which is the role of tires nowadays?
Over the past few decades, tires have played a fundamental role in increasing performance in competitions.
It is easy to think that if the powers of rally cars have remained more or less unchanged from the 90s to today (300 – 380 hp depending on the turbos restrictions), the same thing cannot be said for tires that have undergone constant technological advancement.
In these days they correspond to approximately 50% of the performance in the race, improving the overall pure performance of the crew / car element by several seconds / km.
Structures, compounds and consistency of performance are the main characteristics that lead the elements in contact with the road surface, to play a fundamental role in the work of all the teams starting from WRC ones.
Usually, each manufacturer carries 3 main compounds on the market (soft – medium – hard) to which two other compounds could be added – for dry surfaces such as Extra Soft and Extra Hard.
In addition to these 5 different technical specifications, there are wet tires with a different (more notched) design, as well as having a usually softer structure and compound, for a total of 6 range products.
THE MODERN USE OF TIRES
Sebastien Loeb, in the now distant Rally Deutschland in 2011, introduced this new method of cross-use of compounds, something that was unknown to everyone until then.
By mixing hard and soft tires (or even RAIN) he managed to recreate an intermediate rubber effect between the compounds used, gaining grip and driving confidence.
So, if on that occasion Loeb had available hard dry tires and rain tires in case of bad weather, he decided to use them in this innovative way that has revolutionized results over the years.
FRONT: SLICK / SLICK – RAIN / RAIN – SLICK / SLICK
REAR: SLICK / SLICK – SLICK / SLICK – RAIN / RAIN
FRONT: SLICK /RAIN
REAR: RAIN / SLICK
From then on this methodology has been developed a lot, until reaching the success with Ott Tanak in 2017, when driving the Ford Fiesta WRC Plus. This happened also in Germany, where he adopted a similar choice, beating the competition (3 rain + 3 dry tires).
In that way Tanak would have used 3 Rain tires on the wet specials, keeping only one mold tire at the rear and reversing this balance in the dry tests of the race, thus finding himself with 3 dry tires that he could take advantage of having replaced the previous ones, proceeding towards the success of the race with 2 spare wheels still in the trunk of his car.