Pirelli has wrapped up its Citroën-based testing team being used to prepare for its World Rally Championship return next year, bringing an end to Andreas Mikkelsen’s scheduled outings with the tire maker in WRC equipment.
Saintéloc Racing, which has been running Pirelli’s ex-factory Citroën C3 WRC extensively in Rally Italy’s host island Sardinia during the past few months, undertook its final runs with Mikkelsen on the Tergu-Osilo stage earlier this month, a stage which featured in this year’s Rally Italy itinerary.
Rainfall right after the finish of Rally Italy allowed Pirelli to test its soft-compound gravel tire in wet and damp conditions, along with running its full-wet asphalt compound.
Mikkelsen was back behind the wheel for that test [pictured above] after switching to the co-driver’s seat for a demonstration run on Rally Italy’s powerstage alongside 2003 World Rally Champion Petter Solberg.
In total Pirelli has clocked up approximately 870 miles with the C3 WRC while testing multiple tire prototypes, its running equivalent to around five competitive WRC events.
“With the recent test in cool, damp and wet conditions, our development program has now been completed as planned for this year,” said Terenzio Testini, Pirelli’s head of rallying.
“We’ve been able to follow our revised testing schedule that was disrupted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic without any issues, and finished all our development as anticipated.
“Having worked our way methodically through all the prototypes for every surface, we’ve now been able to arrive at the desired specification and we’re satisfied with the results.”
One tire which hasn’t been tested on the C3 WRC is Pirelli’s Sottozero winter tire, which comes in an unstudded form for Rally Monte Carlo and in a narrower, studded profile for Rally Sweden.
Those tires were instead tested last winter, well ahead of the gravel and asphalt testing program which has just concluded.
Its Sottozero snow-and-ice tire has already been used in competition with WRC cars on several occasions in the lead up to Pirelli’s return to the top level, most of which were in the Finnish Rally Championship.
Takamoto Katsuta piloted a Pirelli-shod factory Yaris WRC to victory on last year’s Itäralli, while Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas used WRC-spec Pirellis during his last two appearances on the Arctic Rally.
Pirelli’s testing with the Citroën C3 WRC has now finished but DirtFish understands smaller-scale tests of the tires will continue between now and Monte Carlo Rally next January.
Since Mikkelsen’s final runs in the C3 WRC, Janne Tuohino has tested Pirelli’s new gravel tires in Finland with his self-run current-generation Ford Fiesta WRC.
Mikkelsen has also been testing Pirelli rubber since the Saintéloc-run program reached its conclusion, though with a Škoda Motorsport-run Fabia Rally2 evo.