Robert Kubica, running on Pirelli tyres, showed this combination to be the fastest one on this year’s Rallye Monte-Carlo, winning four stages and finishing second on two more. Kubica’s winning margin on the longest stage of the rally (Lardier et Valenca-Faye, at 51.70 kilometres) was the biggest one of the entire rally at 33 seconds. Unfortunately, he was forced to retire after going off the road on the final corner of the penultimate stage, as a result of a technical problem that he reported after the accident.
Kubica’s four fastest times came on three different types of surface – ranging from ice to dry asphalt – using three different types of Pirelli tyres. The Pole was fastest on Sottozero tyres, with and without studs, as well as on the RKSS supersoft tyre – which he used to set his fastest time on the long SS10, underlining the durability of the tyre as well as the pure performance.
This tyre has a special compound designed to find grip even in the coldest and most slippery conditions, using some of the same technology seen in Pirelli’s Ultra High Performance road car product. The latest range of P Zero Trofeo tyres, which are road-legal tyres primarily designed for track days, have been evolved from the RK used in world championship rallying.
“I actually didn’t think I was going that quickly,” said Kubica, after setting fastest time on the stage. “I knew that our choice of tyre was good, but there was very little grip from the road. Still, we carried on and I was quite surprised to see the time. A big thank you to Pirelli for doing such a good job on one of the hardest rallies for tyres on the championship.”
As usual, Rallye Monte-Carlo contained a huge variety of surfaces and weather conditions, ranging from full ice and snow, with temperatures in the region of minus 10 degrees centigrade, to dry asphalt and temperatures of plus 10 degrees centigrade.
This always makes Monte Carlo one of the most complex rallies of the year in terms of tyre choice, with crews allowed to use 34 tyres from an allocation of 82 in total, covering all the possible conditions.
Martin Prokop started his first full season with Pirelli by finishing ninth in his privately-run Ford Fiesta RS WRC, having overcome a number of difficulties on the event but finding the grip when it mattered most. “Even though it’s not obvious to know what to do on this rally, the tyres give you confidence,” he said.
Fiesta driver Lorenzo Bertelli was instead making his World Rally Car debut in Monte Carlo, finishing the event down the order as the result of a small mistake that had big consequences, when he got stuck just off the road on Saturday and lost more than an hour. Nonetheless he learned a lot over the course of the weekend, which will stand him in good stead as he tackles a full season this year with new co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini.
In the WRC2 championship, which Bertelli led with Pirelli for the majority of last year, former European Rally Champion Armin Kremer finished third, despite driving an older Skoda Fabia S2000 against modern R5 machinery. He used his experience to make the right tyre choices throughout the 15 stages, which was never an obvious task.
Pirelli senior tyre engineer Matteo Braga said: “All our drivers were able to adapt themselves well to the varying conditions and information from the safety crews, consistently finding the best performance from the tyres in a wide range of weather and surfaces. What Robert managed to do was exceptional, especially during Saturday when he showed speed and consistency on the longest and most challenging stage of the rally, demonstrating a performance advantage that nobody else could match. Robert took on a new challenge this year in running with his own team and a private car, quickly getting up to speed with a tyre product that he had only sampled for the first time a week ago, during testing. He made a very big impression.”