Pirelli suffered just one more puncture on its full World Rally Championship return at last week’s Monte Carlo Rally than Michelin had at the same event in 2020, according to the its rally activity manager Terenzio Testoni.
While Pirelli’s return to the forefront of the WRC was widely heralded as a success in the French Alps, Testoni was keen to offer a deeper explanation to DirtFish readers on what had been achieved.
“Before I say anything, we have to remember when we first went to test the [Monte Carlo] tires,” begins Testoni.
“It was March last year. We are ready to start the test, then the pandemic is coming and everything closes.
“In July we can start the test again, but it’s crazy to test a Monte tire in the middle of the summer. In the end we had three months to test – July, August, September. In October we make the tires and in November we are ready to test them. It’s been a crazy time. But we were ready for round one and I’m very happy for that.
“I’m also very happy that, last year we saw 20 punctures on four-wheel-drive cars. This year, we have 21. I think we are aligned with what our predecessor was doing and, again, I’m happy for that on our first event.”
One of the concerns from the teams was the limited compound grip from the Sottozero winter tires.
Testoni added: “It’s a difficult balance to strike. You cannot take everything from the tire. For us, we focus on keeping the studs in the tire – this is the most important thing.
“If you have good [compound] grip on a dry Tarmac stage, but you loose the studs, what do you do if you go to the next stage and it’s complete ice. You are finished.
“OK, maybe you lose a little time with our [studded winter] tire on the dry Tarmac, but I have a challenge for you: I want you to go to find a tire with one stud missing from last week. If you can find one tire, I will give you €10,000.
“We worked very, very hard to develop the glue and the process to keep the stud in the tire because we know, when you come to the ice, it’s the stud you need the most.
“Let me tell you, I talked to Sébastien Ogier after the rally and he told to me: ‘Terenzio, we didn’t need to take the two spares on Sunday. We took them because we thought we would lose the studs, but we lost nothing.’
“Like I told you, for me, I’m very happy with this start to the season and how we made our work to get here.”