Michelin Rally Tyre Stolen
Michelin representatives have appealed for information regarding the whereabouts of a Michelin Z BTO, which they say was stolen from service facilities during the recent Rally Japan. The incident reportedly took place at the Obihiro service park during the night of 1 October.
As you might expect the manufacturer, was less the impressed. “The Michelin Group considers acts of this sort to be extremely serious and unreservedly condemns such acts of industrial and technological espionage,” an official statement said implying that the tyre was stolen by a competing manufacturer.
The Michelin Z BTO tyre – which made its debut at last April’s Rally New Zealand before going on to win six gravel rallies in a row – played a major role in Sébastien Loeb’s second world title.
According to Michelin the Z BTO “harmoniously blends 150 different ingredients,” adding that development called for considerable investment from Michelin’s engineers in terms of research and calculation work.
“It is clear that a few hours of detailed analysis of the BTO (analysis of the ‘footprint,’ longitudinal and lateral force measurements, examination of the casing fibres and compound, etc.) will reveal all its secrets. Furthermore, this tyre – serial number 00330539 – was mounted on a rim and equipped with ATS mousse. The whole package is therefore a mine of information,” Aimé Chatard, manager of Michelin Competition’s rallies programme commented.
As a result Michelin representatives said they would be keeping their eyes open in case a BTO clone turns up in the World Rally Championship in the course of the next twelve months. The manufacturer also warned that it will keep the sport’s governing body informed.
While Michelin will not be able to veto the use of such a tyre, an official statement said the company wouldl request that a thorough analysis is made of such a clone. “In the event that it is proved that the tyre was copied, the information will be made available to all the parties involved in the World Rally Championship,” the statement read.
Michelin suffered another theft earlier in the year when a Superbike tyre was taken from the Irish Mondello Park following circuit following a break-in.