Neuville claims maiden Monte success with Hyundai/Michelin
The outstanding grip provided by Michelin’s Pilot Sport range in the challenging conditions thrown up by the 2020 Rallye Monte-Carlo helped Thierry Neuville,...
The 2020 Rally Sweden was won by Elfyn Evans driving a Michelin X-Ice North 3-equipped Toyota Yaris WRC. This year’s event was shortened due to a lack of snow, but Michelin’s studded WRC snow tyre delivered outstanding grip despite the unfamiliar conditions to combine the brand’s 30th Swedish victory with class wins in WRC2, WRC3 and RC4 which are all also open to competition between tyre firms.
Sweden is the World Rally Championship round that Michelin has won the most often, ahead of two other classics, Rallye Monte-Carlo and Rally Finland.
This time around, Michelin came out on top after a shortened itinerary through Sweden’s Värmland and Norway’s Finnskogen regions to take the top prize with Evans who clocked an average speed in excess of 120kph.
Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Welsh recruit was in dominating form all week, going fastest on five of the nine high-speed stages actually contested to become the 58
Reigning world champion Ott Tänak (Hyundai/Michelin) bounced back from his frightening Monte-Carlo smash to come second, while third place went to Finnish youngster Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota Yaris WRC/Michelin) who scored his maiden WRC podium finish just under four seconds clear of six-time champ Sébastien Ogier (Toyota/Michelin).
Designed to bite into ice, the WRC stars’ Michelin X-Ice North 3 tyres had to contend with predominantly gravel conditions, never an easy mission because of the damage this can cause to studs. But the combined expertise of Michelin Motorsport’s specialists and Swedish specialist Däckproffsen which is tasked with inserting the studs into the tread blocks meant that the 384 metal tips sported by each Michelin Rally Sweden tyre were able to deal with the punishment superbly and contribute to the quality of the entertainment by delivering great grip and longevity.
“This season’s unfamiliar situation forced the organisers to cancel 10 of the 19 scheduled stages, but we are very pleased with the way our tyres rose to the occasion,” commented Arnaud Rémy, the manager of Michelin Motorsport’s rally programmes. “On average, our WRC runners lost only 20 studs per tyre – that’s just five percent! The drivers were consequently able to benefit from outstanding grip throughout.”
Meanwhile, the X-Ice NA01 – the customer tyre available to Michelin’s non-WRC partners – had to cope with even stonier, more rutted terrain. That, however, didn’t prevent it from claiming both the WRC3 and WRC2 fights with Jari Huttunen (Hyundai i20 R5) and Mads Ostberg (Citroën C3 R5) respectively, having posted the fastest time on seven of the week’s nine stages in both classes.
Next round: Rally Mexico (March 12-15).
2020 Rally Sweden – Final Positions:
1. Evans/Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC), 1h11m43.1s
2. Tänak/Järveoja (Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC), +12.7s
3. Rovanperä/Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC), +20.2s
4. Ogier/Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC), +23.6s
5. Lappi/Ferm (Ford Fiesta RS WRC), +32.4s
6. Neuville/Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC), +33.8s
7. Breen/Nagle (Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC), +1m0.9s
8. Suninen/Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC), +1m24.5s
9. Katsuta/Barritt (Toyota Yaris WRC), +1m59.6s
10. Huttunen/Lukka (Hyundai i20 R5), +4m3.0s (1