You would think everybody would be talking about the World Rally Championship’s first visit to the Arctic Circle at this week’s Arctic Lapland Rally. But you would be wrong.
That’s what’s at the top of pretty much everybody’s minds on the streets of Rovaniemi right now.
And this is nothing to do with the God of Fire. Or a jet-propelled delta-winged airplane.
It’s all to do with Pirelli’s patented – and quite brilliant – way of keeping studs in its snow tires.
Naturally, the science of hardening the rubber and the physical process of vulcanisation is a bit too sciencey for here and now, but what is interesting is that the Pirellis being used by Hyundai Motorsport’s Oliver Solberg and his fellow Rally2 runners have never had longer studs.
How long? The Italians are being a little bit coy about that, but somebody’s measured one on behalf of DirtFish and nine millimeters is the answer.
That’s a full 2mm more than the Sottozeros the World Rally Cars and all WRC competitors will be shod with when they land in the Arctic Circle next month. But don’t get too carried away, Pirelli’s latest tire – Sottozero Ice WJ – is for national runners only. We won’t be seeing it in any Rally1 action.
“The distinctive studs on the new Sottozero Ice WJ are the longest we have ever produced on a rally tire,” said Pirelli’s rally activity manager Terenzio Testoni.
“These have the effect of increasing penetration, maximizing grip, and therefore improving safety in some of the most challenging conditions on earth – without compromising stud retention.
“The Arctic Rally is a legendary event with more than 200 kilometers [124 miles] of snow and ice action, making it the perfect place to showcase the stunning capabilities of our new product.”
The Arctic Lapland Rally starts on Friday January 15, and finishes the next day.
And, for anybody wondering, the studs on road cars’ winter tires are 1.5mm long.