Sébastien Ogier won the 2020 Rally Monza to notch up his 47th world-class victory and the seventh FIA World Rally Championship crown of his career on Michelin tyres. The Italian event was the final outing of the French firm’s current spell in the FIA WRC which has seen it harvest no fewer than 347 victories, 1,037 podium placings and 58 Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ world titles since the competition’s creation in 1973, aided by a long list of technological innovations and close working relationships with its driver and carmaker partners.
Rally Monza was added to the 2020 WRC calendar following the cancellation of many of the championship’s originally-scheduled rounds due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The visit to northern Italy and the mountains north of Milan coincided, however, with a period of wintry weather which threw a challenging combination of snow, ice, heavy rain and mud at competitors. The cocktail inevitably conjured up images of the Rallye Monte-Carlo and tyre choices proved just as delicate and decisive as they tend to be at season’s traditional opener.
Having foreseen the possibility of snow, Michelin planned ahead by adding the availability of a number of Pilot Sport Alpin snow tyres to the drivers’ allocations which initially comprised just the Pilot Sport H5 (hard compound), Pilot Sport S6 (soft) and Pilot Sport FW3 (rain). Similarly, the Pilot Sport NA00 snow tyre was added to the options open to Michelin’s WRC2 and WRC3 runners.
The rally’s outcome – and indeed, that of the scrap for both the 2020 Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ titles – was essentially settled on Saturday morning’s SS11 when the provisional championship pacesetter Elfyn Evans crashed out on snow. Despite the incident stemming the Toyota/Michelin driver’s hopes of clinching his first crown, the Welshman sportingly signalled to title-rival Ogier to slow down to avoid going off at the same treacherously slippery spot.
From that point on, the Frenchman – who had just taken the lead in his Michelin FW3-equipped Toyota Yaris WRC – only had to tread carefully for the rest of the weekend to make sure of his first world title with the Japanese firm, in addition to those secured previously with Volkswagen and Ford.
Evans’ misfortune also played into the hands of Hyundai by allowing i20 Coupé WRC/Michelin drivers Ott Tanäk and Dani Sordo to eventually claim second and third spots, sufficient for the South Korean make to claim its second Manufacturers’ crown in a row and Michelin’s 30
Michelin also left Italy with the year’s WRC2 and WRC3 titles in its pocket thanks to the performances of Mads Ostberg (Citroën) and Jari Huttunen (Hyundai) in these two classes which have been the scene of fierce competition between tyre brands all season.
As it bows out of the World Rally Championship, Michelin’s statistics in the series include a score of 347 individual rally wins secured by 58 different drivers and 63 different co-drivers in 29 different countries. The French firm also totals 30 Manufacturers’ titles with 11 different carmakers and 28 Drivers’ crowns with 12 different champions, plus 1,037 podium placings and almost 8,000 stage wins since 1973.
This unique record has been achieved across an exceptional spectrum of conditions (extreme heat, bitter cold, torrential rain, etc, etc.), on all types of terrain (sand, rocks, snow, mud, ice, wet and dry asphalt, etc.) and on five continents (America, Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia) where Michelin has repeatedly delivered on its Performance Made to Last promise.
In parallel, the exceptional laboratory and incubator of ideas the World Rally Championship has become have seen Michelin introduce numerous technological solutions that today benefit both its customer rally range and road tyres.
Despite its withdrawal from the WRC, Michelin’s long history in rallying is not coming to an abrupt end, since it will continue to address the needs of profesionnal and amateur competitors across the world in regional, international and national championships and build on its eloquent record at all these levels in 2021.
2020 Rally Monza – Final positions:
Ogier/Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC/Michelin), 2h15m51.0s
Tänak/Järveoja (Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC/Michelin), +13.9s
Sordo/Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC/Michelin), +15.3s
Lappi/Ferm (Ford Fiesta RS WRC/Michelin), +45.7s
Rovanperä/Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC/Michelin), 1m11.1s
Mikkelsen/Jaeger (Hyundai i20 R5), +3m56.2s (1
Solberg/Johnston (VW Polo GTi R5),+4m12.1s
Huttunen/Lukka (Hyundai i20 R5/Michelin), +5m15.4s
Ostberg/Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5/Michelin), +5m27.4s (1
Tidemand/Barth (Skoda Fabia R5), +5m53.0s