Pirelli Wins In Japan
Marcus Gronholm’s Pirelli-equipped Peugeot 307 WRC, has won the all-gravel Rally Japan, round 13 of the World Rally Championship. The event came to a dramatic finish when the Subaru of Petter Solberg, which had led from the beginning, retired through a steering mechanism failure. Pirelli-shod cars dominated the action throughout all three days, setting 25 fastest times out of 26 stages with all three partner teams (Subaru, Peugeot and Mitsubishi). Gronholm, who took the lead when Solberg retired, notched up Pirelli’s 140th World Championship rally victory.
Pirelli’s partner teams used K and KP tyres throughout the rally, hand-cut to deal with water and loose gravel when it was necessary. Under new regulations for some of the events this year, the teams had to nominate just one tyre pattern for the whole rally. Subaru nominated the KP tyre, with which they won in Japan last year, while Peugeot and Mitsubishi chose the K pattern. For the final day all the drivers chose the 6 compound of each tyre, designed for the coolest conditions. Japanese driver Toshi Arai completed a clean sweep for Pirelli, winning the Group N category in his Subaru.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director, commented: “Congratulations to Marcus, but we also feel very sorry for Petter and Subaru. All our Pirelli-equipped teams dominated the time sheets and it was a closely-fought battle. I am very pleased with the consistent performance of our K and our KP rubber, which demonstrated a winning pace on not only the short sprint stages, but also the longer repeated stages in the afternoons.”