Michelin dominates Dakar following three-year commitment

Michelin has begun its three-year commitment to the Dakar Rally as it means to go on, with its tyres fitted to victors in the Bike, Truck and – on the tyre manufacturer’s comeback to the category for the first time since its 2001 victory – Cars. The French tyre giant brought its Latitude C tyres for the Car class, the Bib Mousse-equipped Desert Race for Motorbikes, and the XZL for Trucks, showing the strength and versatility required for competitors to tackle the frequently punishing conditions encountered.

Pascal Couasnon, director of the Michelin Group’s Competition Division, explains that the company’s three-year commitment to the Dakar as a technical partner is motivated by research and development in addition to competition: “Michelin is particularly attracted to competitions that are relevant to future development. As a technical partner of the Dakar, Michelin hopes to bring benefit to the highest possible number of motorists, motorcyclists and transport companies through the experience it gains in this notoriously difficult event.”

Couasnon also expressed his satisfaction with the results achieved on this year’s event: “I would like to thank all of our partners in the three categories we entered. Their success is equally the success of Michelin tyres, while all the drivers and riders contribute to their development as well as serving as ambassadors for the Michelin brand. I must pay tribute finally to the efforts of our on-event support team which worked extremely hard, helping professional and amateur competitors alike with the expertise they have gained from Michelin’s decades of participation in the world’s most exacting cross-country rally.”

Stéphane Peterhansel (X-Raid-run ALL4 Racing MINI) claimed his fifth success in the Car category and his 11th overall, taking into account his six prior triumphs on two wheels. He drove on Michelin tyres – making their return to the category after 12 years – and with no modifications or tread re-cutting permitted, the Latitude C proved sufficiently robust and adaptable for the thousands of kilometres of varied terrain, ranging from rocky trails to flour-like “fesh-fesh” sand, while also taking the mechanical constraints exerted by the vehicles’ weight, power and torque into account. The tyre also functioned in very cold and very hot temperatures on soft sand dunes and high-speed, hard-packed ground.

Michelin explains that ordinary South America motorists need these qualities for everyday driving given that only 20 per cent of their road network is asphalted. Therefore, Michelin’s Dakar participation contributed to the development of safer, longer-lasting production tyres suited to use in South America and Asia.

Despres wins fifth Dakar with KTM/Michelin

In the Dakar 2013 Motorbike category, favourite Cyril Despres claimed his fifth victory with the KTM/Michelin team, finishing ahead of Ruben Faria, Chaleco Lopez, Ivan Jakes and Joan Pedredo in an all-KTM/Michelin top five. The bike class was very competitive this year, with Yamaha 450 YZF riders Olivier Pain, who led for four days, and David Casteu who topped the order at the San Miguel de Tucuman rest day, dominating the early stages.

“The day that winning the Dakar gets easy, it will no longer be the Dakar. And this one took some winning,” said Despres, who took a 15 minute penalty after changing his transmission to resolve a gearbox problem during the first week. In the technically demanding Argentine stages later in the Rally, Despres more than made up the difference to overcome the competition, taking him within one victory of Stéphane Peterhansel’s two-wheel Dakar victories record.

Despres also congratulated his teammate in second place: “I am delighted for Ruben Faria who didn’t have a drive three years ago.” Faria recovered runner-up spot when KTM decided to change Lopez’s engine on Friday evening. “It’s great to finish on the podium in my home city, Santiago,” said the Chilean, who managed five stage victories, including the last one in front of a home crowd.

Michelin-shod motorbike competitors won every stage of the 2013 Dakar Rally. The Bib Mousse-equipped Desert Race proved dependable and agile, ensuring optimum traction and durability. Bib Mousse – designed to be used in tandem with the company’s off-road tyre – works to replace air inside the tyre, reducing the risk of puncture whilst optimising performance.

Michelin XZL continues to be preferred fitment for Trucks

Michelin’s XZL has been the preferred choice for more than 70 per cent of Dakar Truck competitors for two decades. The production truck tyre was designed for use over a broad spectrum of terrains, ranging from sand to mud, delivering increased traction, even in the case of high-torque engines, and withstanding big loads. The casing is both flexible and robust, allowing the tyre to run at very low pressures over particularly rough or demanding terrains.

The tread compound of the tyre was designed to resist damage and punctures and, alongside the overall qualities of the XZL 14.00R20, Michelin says this contributed significantly to the podium sweep achieved by Russian team Kamaz, a longstanding partner of the French tyre manufacturer on some of the world’s most extreme cross-country rallies.

Road safety and sustainability at the Dakar

Michelin also took the opportunity of the 2013 Dakar to illustrate its road safety and environmental positions, drawing up “ten golden rules of good driving” in association with the FIA for South American motorists. This is characterised as a major aspect of the company’s corporate social responsibility programme. Furthermore, all of the tyres used by competitors during the Dakar will be recovered; Michelin says 58 per cent will help in the production of energy, whilst the remaining 42 per cent are incorporated into the production of asphalt and other surface materials.

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