Loeb, Elena claim Michelin tyres' 20th WRC Drivers’ title
Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena secured the 2012 Drivers’ World Rally Championship title at the Rallye de France Alsace on 7 October, making it their ninth consecutive victory and Citroen Racing’s eighth Manufacturers’ title since 2003. Their victory marks a significant moment for Michelin motorsport, since it is the 20th Drivers’ WRC championship to be won using the company’s tyres – as well as being the 22nd time the Manufacturers’ title winner has used Michelin rubber since the introduction of the series by the FIA in 1973. Michelin’s oft-stated desire for competition between tyre manufacturers in motorsport is also satisfied by this statistic, since all of these 42 victories were claimed within a framework that allowed open competition between tyre companies.
Pascal Couasnon, director, Michelin Competition, stated: “I want to underline that Michelin is involved in motorsport as a technical partner in competitions that relate in a real way to the development of mobility. This way, we go much further than just promoting the brand. We seek conditions that allow us progress every time we compete, either through competition with other tire firms or as a function of the demands dictated by the tire regulations in question. Indeed, it is Michelin’s unique approach that makes us so proud of the world titles that Sébastien Loeb and Citroen Racing have brought us today.”
The 2012 Rallye de France Alsace took place in variable weather, with rain easing off in time for the 3.63km super-special (SS1) through Strasbourg’s damp streets on Thursday evening. Friday morning’s low cloud and damp, occasionally wet surfaces forced the drivers into a difficult choice between the hard compound Michelin Pilot Sport H1 and the softer S1 version. Loeb took the lead thanks to his tyre decision for the opening loop of three difficult stages.
As the weather improved, spectators were treated to warm, sunny conditions as they cheered on the home-driver, Sébastien Loeb on Saturday. Throughout this phase of the rally, all the WRC competitors ran on hard-compound Michelin tyre.
The weather changed again on the Sunday morning, with pouring rain leading to mud caked asphalt as teams made their first pass of the loop. As the sun made a welcome reappearance at lunchtime the muddy surface dried, making the final loop of three stages a tough test, since the leading cars were competing on the soft S1 variant of the Michelin Pilot Sport.
Loeb and Elena’s Citroen DS3 WRC was joined on the final podium in Alsace by Finns Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila in their Ford Fiesta RS WRC and Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen in the second Citroen DS3 WRC.