Is Michelin to Return to WRC?
Having ruled itself out of Formula One tyre supply in the wake of Pirelli’s dramatic entrance earlier in the year Michelin looks like it may be on the verge of entering another major FIA motorsport series. Autosport reports today that the French giant’s competitions director Nick Shorrock contacted motorsport’s governing body to make known its desire to take on the supply of rally tyres for the first time since the 2007 season, when it was involved under the BF Goodrich brand. At the start of the 2011 season it will be six years since the Michelin name was associated with the World Rally Championship.
Pirelli is currently the sole tyre supplier for WRC, though a spokesman told the motorsports magazine that the Italian brand was “still considering its options”. Long a proponent of competitive tyre suppliers in motorsports, Michelin is unlikely to be insisting on being the sole manufacturer involved in WRC as part of its bid, a view implied by Shorrock’s statement to Autosport: “we have to wait until 13 September, when the FIA will let us know the tyre companies which are to be permitted to supply tyres. And then we have to find out if anybody wants to run with our tyres.”
However, Michelin’s bid may not be the subject of entirely positive feelings in the WRC. An unnamed team principal told Autosport that while the interest was good news, “you have to ask if this is the right time for open competition again – and, frankly, it’s not. Pirelli made a perfect offer to the FIA last year and it should have been accepted. It was common sense to take Pirelli for another three years – that would have seen us through the remainder of the storm and then bring competition back, when the sport’s back to its best again.”