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WRC drivers want to improve Pirelli rubber after Portugal punctures

Tire issues became a hot topic as the new Rally 1 in 2022 entered the gravel rally for the first time after a particularly cruel Friday.

Pirelli debuted new hard and soft gravel tires at this event. This tire features a reinforced construction, a design optimized for increased torque, and a Rally 1 car that is 70kg heavier than its predecessor.

Despite the upgraded rubber, some crew suffered tires coming off the rim and puncturing as a result of Friday’s extreme rough stage.

Eight-time world champions Sebastien Ogier and Hyundai’s Oittanak were hit by a flat tire on stages 6 and 7, with the former retiring from the rally in opposition to carrying two spare wheels.

M-Sport’s Craig Breen was also hit by a flat tire on Friday’s second pass, and teammates Adrien Fourmaux and Gus Greensmith also faced tire problems.

Extreme conditions surprised many drivers by making the conditions worse with larger entries compared to previous events that passed the test.

However, Ogier is one of those who are critical of rubber integrity, suggesting that work is needed to improve the tires.

The 38-year-old said he was driving carefully and was surprised when the punk alarm was triggered. It is also the second time the French have been hampered by a puncture after losing the chance of winning in Monte Carlo in January.

“Sure, there have been two rallies so far, and in Monte it loses victory. [a puncture] In Portugal, he fought for victory and was sent off for that, “Ogier told autosport.

“I don’t think I need to say any more. There is certainly something to do on that side.”

Sebastien Ogier, Benjamin Beirus, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yarisura Ruri 1

Photo: Toyota Racing

Greensmith picked up a flat tire on a smoother super special stage that ended on Friday, and picked up more tire problems on Sunday. This happens when the crew uses older wet tarmac tires, in addition to five tire failures at Rally Croatia last month.

“I didn’t know where the hole was made today,” Greensmith told autosport. “This weekend we had four punctures and the last five rallies, so we need to investigate. Everyone has a slow rally. There is something very bad about it.”

Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville avoided a flat tire in Portugal, but admitted that the tires felt in need of improvement. Many rough gravel rallies will take place, especially in Sardinia next week and the Safari Rally later next month.

“We know there are risks and the risks are higher than before,” Newbill told autosport. “Honestly, it’s been pretty good so far, but I’m sure the amount of flat tires has improved on the tire manufacturer side. I think they’re working on it.”

Not all drivers agreed that tires needed to be improved, but Pirelli defended Rubber by saying that Portugal’s top four runners were able to avoid the problem.

Terenzio Testoni, the rally activity manager for the Italian brand, admitted that the conditions were worse than expected and felt that the amount of puncture was in line with his expectations.

“The conditions were tricky, so it could be said that it was consistent with what happened on Friday before the rally began,” Testoni told autosport.

“Sure, after 100 cars, this is a lot more than in the previous year, but the damage to the road was quite large. There are lots of stones and deep ruts, putting a stone in the middle of the road. Was certainly not easy.

“The driver who finished the first four rallies had no punctures, so the driving style will affect subsequent punctures.

“I’m happy with the performance of the tires. I can’t think of a rally without a flat tire. A flat tire has always been part of the story.

“Sure, less punctures are good for us, but we have no control over the state of the stage. Friday was terrible.” WRC drivers want to improve Pirelli rubber after Portugal punctures

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