Wins for Yokohama-shod Runners in Tour of Mull
The 2008 Tour of Mull Rally proved a successful event for Yokohama, with Paul MacKinnon’s Advan A006T tarmac tyre-shod Subaru Impreza winning the event outright and Tristan Pye’s Impreza N11 winning the Group N class of the event. The Tour of Mull is one of the most iconic events in British club rallying. Running on the abrasive asphalt roads around the remote Scottish island, changeable weather conditions typically make tyre choice extremely difficult. Drivers are often forced to compromise when it comes to selecting the ideal pattern and compound for stages that may be wet in parts and dry in others, or where the weather can change part-way through a stage.
This year, both MacKinnon and Pye were using the latest specification of Yokohama’s moulded slick tarmac tyre. It would be the second time Pye has used the Japanese manufacturer’s products, as he clinched this year’s Production Cup in the BTRDA rally series, which included two asphalt events.
While Pye already knew the full potential of the Yokohama tyres, MacKinnon, son of renowned Mull expert Neil, had only used Yokohama rubber on a forest event, where he had been impressed with the products. He therefore had high hopes when it came to his local event and the prospect of competing against his 12-time event-champion father.
MacKinnon was partnered by Daniel Barritt, himself already well versed with Yokohama Advan rally tyres, having co-driven for Fumio Nutahara in last year’s FIA Production car World Rally Championship, the development and proving ground for the newest specification of tyre.
Setting the pace
MacKinnon and Barritt set the pace from the start, winning the first four stages of the event to build a significant lead. They went on to win a total of ten stages out of the 17 that made up the event and victory looked to be theirs. However, there was to be a sting in the tail for the pairing on the last stage of the event.
Close to the start, they went off the road and into some trees, a seemingly terminal problem. However, MacKinnon locked the car’s transmission and managed to get back onto the road but was keenly aware of the approaching headlights of their closest rival, Calum Duffy who began the stage some 40 seconds behind in the overall standings.
MacKinnon knew it was all or nothing at this stage, as did Duffy and the two crews gave it everything they had over the final 16 miles of the rally. By the time they reached the end of the stage, MacKinnon maintained his position and took the win by a margin of just nine seconds after three days of action. Not only did he take the outright win; he also shattered the stage record on several of the timed tests, many of which were held previously by his father.
Speaking after the event, MacKinnon said; “I’m absolutely chuffed to bits with how it went this weekend. It looked a little tight towards the end but that’s how it goes sometimes. I was pleased to take the lion’s share of the stage wins and break the record on many of the stages – they tend to be pretty similar year after year, so those records have stood for some time.
“This as the first time I’ve used the Yokohama Advan asphalt tyres; I’ve used the forest tyres once before and was impressed with those – I won that event also, so that was a good start. However, these tyres have been superb. I simply cannot praise them highly enough. The strength and consistency were exceptional and the grip was outstanding, particularly under braking.
“Not only did they perform very well, they also held together. The last stage in particular was extremely abrasive, as well as Calum’s home stage, so we knew we’d have to push hard. I gather that his tyres were destroyed by the end of the stage but the durability of the Yokohamas meant we could push reliably all the way through. Along with Simon Clark’s input in making sure we had the right tyre on the car at all times, it proved a perfect result.”
“Not a single puncture”
Not only was Yokohama able to help MacKinnon secure the outright win, it also helped Pye to take the win in the Group N class. Having clinched the BTRDA Production Cup for Group N cars two weeks previously and with the pressure of the championship race off, he and co-driver Kirsty Riddick were able to attack the Scottish stages.
“This weekend went very well, for Paul and of course, for us,” said Pye. “We had a few issues on the event but overall, I’m very pleased. The Yokohama tyres again performed very well. We ended up with a few bent wheel rims over the course of the rally but we didn’t suffer a single puncture and neither did Paul; that was what caused him so many problems last year and another reason he was so pleased with the Yokohamas this year.
“I’ve done the event a couple of times before and this year conditions were very tricky. It could be wet on one side of the island and dry on the other, meaning it was impossible to get the right tyre for the whole of some stages but the Yokohamas worked extremely well in both conditions. It was exactly as I expected having used the tyres on two tarmac events this year in the BTRDA.”
“Emphasis on tyres”
Commenting on the weekend, Mark Evans, Motorsport Manager at Yokohama HPT, the UK distributor, said; “This is a perfect result for Yokohama, hot on the heels of Tristan’s success in the Production Cup of the BTRDA. The Tour of Mull is a very specialised event that places a huge emphasis on tyres; not just their outright performance but their durability and flexibility. To gain a result like this, as well as yet more positive feedback from both Paul and Tristan, is a superb endorsement for our products.
“We are delighted to have been part of Paul’s first win on the island and feel it is particularly appropriate that he got that win at the same age as his father took his first victory. We’re also very pleased that Tristan won Group N after wrapping-up the BTRDA title, on an event where he had the added responsibility of not only his own entry but also looking after Paul’s car.
“We are hoping that the rally community will now understand what Paul and Tristan know; Yokohama tyres are as competitive on the forest and tarmac stages as we know they are on the racetrack and we look forward to helping more rally customers to succeed in the coming seasons.”