Pirelli will debut the first evolution of the RK tyre, a tyre that was introduced only at the beginning of this year specifically for the latest World Rally Championship regulations, at Rallye Deutschland this weekend.
The latest RK will be brought to Germany in both RK5A hard and RKW7 soft compounds, the hard being the prime choice and the soft being the option. The consistency and durability of the hard tyre has improved, while the soft benefits from improved wet-weather performance.
Nonetheless, both RK5A and RKW7 use the same tread pattern and construction, in accordance with the latest WRC regulations that require a single pattern for all asphalt events.
Also available to the WRC1 cars for the first time this year is the ‘emergency tyre’. As required by the regulations, this is a direct evolution of the Sottozero snow tyre first seen in Monte Carlo, which will be used only for heavy rain and deep pools of standing water.
Rallye Deutschland is the first sealed-surface event of the year and one of the most diverse rounds of the WRC, as originally it was made up of three national rallies rolled into one. Day one takes place on tight and twisty vineyard roads; made slippery by grape mulch, while day two includes the concrete roads of the notorious Baumholder military terrain. The final day is held on open and faster roads, meaning that the tyres experience every different type of asphalt surface possible.
Pirelli drivers in Germany Pirelli has opted to focus on customer competition this year, and this event will be one of the busiest that the Italian firm has dealt with this year, with 11 customers competing on the demanding roads of Rallye Deutschland, including WRC2 leader Lorenzo Bertelli. The Pirelli crews contesting Rallye Deutschland are:
22 Jaroslav Melicharek/Ernst Melicharek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) 23 Sam Moffett/James O’Reilly (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) 33 Bernardo Sousa/Hugo Magalhaes (Ford Fiesta S2000) 36 Armin Kremer/Klaus Wicha (Skoda Fabia S2000) 37 Lorenzo Bertelli/Mitia Dotta (Ford Fiesta R5) 39 Julien Maurin/Nicolas Klinger (Ford Fiesta R5) 122 Hermann Gassner Jr/Ursula Mayrhofer (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10) 123 Hermann Gassner Sr/Katrin Thannhauser (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10) 127 Sebastian Schwinn/Felix Griebel (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10) 131 Philippe Chevallard/Frederic Arnaud (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10) 136 Armand Fumal/Xavier Portier (Citroen DS3 R3T)
The tyres available For Rallye Deutschland, Pirelli will bring the latest evolution of the RK tyre in RK5A hard compound and RKW7 WRC soft compound. As an emergency tyre, for extreme wet conditions (and only for WRC1) Pirelli will supply the Sottozero tyre. In total, Pirelli will bring nearly 600 tyres to Trier.
The rules The overall number of tyres that may be used is 28. A total of 28 RK5A tyres are supplied to each WRC1 crew with 20 of the RKW7 WRC option also available. WRC2 crews have 24 prime and 20 option tyres available. The ‘emergency tyre’ allocation is eight tyres for WRC1 crews only.
Quote Matteo Braga, Pirelli senior tyre engineer: “Germany is a significant event for many reasons. Firstly the nature of the rally itself, with variable surfaces and weather conditions that test every aspect of a tyre’s performance. Secondly, we have a healthy number of customers choosing to use our products. Thirdly, we are launching evolutions of the RK tyre for both wet and dry asphalt. The current rules mean that we are only allowed to use one tyre pattern for all conditions, reflecting the situation that ordinary drivers on the road face. However, rallying is clearly much more extreme, so it’s a very big challenge to design a tyre for competition use that is so versatile. However, by working with the compounds, we’ve been able to come up with a new RK tyre that performs just as strongly in the dry as in the wet. For cases of extreme heavy rain, we have the Sottozero as the ‘emergency tyre’, derived from the snow product, which once again demonstrates the versatility of our range.”