Has a tire ever been a bridesmaid? It has now. Or it soon will be. Its name? Sottozero.
Continued dry weather looks set to rule Pirelli’s winter tire option out of action on this week’s Monte Carlo Rally. The Monaco-based event usually offers the perfect opportunity to showcase the Sottozero’s winter capability, but not this time.
“We are a little bit disappointed in the weather,” said Pirelli’s motorsport director Mario Isola. “We have designed this tire specifically for Monte Carlo and we’re not going to get the chance to use them. What can we do? We cannot control the weather.”
Rally activity manager Terenzio Testoni said there was nothing new in the dry conditions, adding: “I was looking back in my notes and in 2005, the weather was also completely dry – we only used the harder tire then.”
The crews have the choice of four covers: the winter with and without studs and the two Pirelli P Zero racer options. New for this year is the super-soft compound of P Zero.
“We had good feedback from the test from the teams using the new super-soft,” Testoni said. “I think this is probably the good choice for this weekend. If the temperature is around zero degrees, the super-soft is the main choice. If the temperature rises to between five and 10 degrees then you would take the soft.
“The question is about how much humidity is coming in the night. It’s sure that, tomorrow morning, the stage will not be full dry.”
The overnight forecast in the heart of the stages is for temperatures to drop to -5C with overcast conditions and cloud cover but no precipitation.
Those drivers stepping into new cars – such as Ott Tänak and Esapekka Lappi – will benefit from more consistent conditions, but Sébastien Ogier was quick to marshal caution about the potential for rapid weather change in the mountains.
“There are no guarantees for this rally,” the eight-time Monte winner said. “Every time you start this rally, you know this – the conditions can change from the recce to the rally and the tire strategy can still spice things up.”
But if it stays dry, that spice won’t include any Sottozero, with or without studs. Seeing the lovely, chunky winter boots sitting about the service park will make for a sad sight.
Bridesmaid once more.
To follow all the twists and turns of this year’s Monte Carlo Rally as it happens, make sure you check out DirtFish Live Center. Coverage starts from 7pm CET on Thursday.