How Tires Changed Rally Chile BioBio

October 1, 2023Joe Moore

Tire issues on day three of Rally Chile BioBio changed the rally completely, but how? Find out below.

For Context 

Day three of Rally Chile BioBio saw drivers face 154 km of stages, with each loop being 77 km. The Pirelli tires used by drivers couldn’t hold up to the sheer heat and length of the loops. With most drivers ending each of the morning stages with completely worn tires. By the end of the morning loop over half the field of WRC1 drivers had grinded their wheels down to the rim. Changing all tires between the stages wasn’t an option. At most you could change two of your tires, but that still left two worn-out tires on the car. The soft compound tires stood no chance to the conditions, but what about the hard compound? They didn’t fare much better. Sure nobody ended the stage completely on a rim unless they got a puncture, which in any case was changed mid-stage. Drivers in the afternoon loop were completely on tire-preserving duty. Nobody was really pushing, but more on that in a second.  

How Tires Changed Rally Chile BioBio

Normally during a rally event drivers aren’t completely focused on tire preservation. Besides on the final day in which most drivers try to save tires for the Powerstage. Sure tire preservation is a part of rallying on any weekend. However, in most cases, you don’t see drivers pretty much just drive through the stage with no push. That’s basically what happened on day three of Rally Chile BioBio. I mean when Kalle Rovanperä isn’t pushing it at all you know there’s an issue. Normally drivers aren’t losing a handful of seconds due to tires unless they get a puncture. That’s also what happened on day three. As nobody was safe. Everyone from Ott Tänak to Oliver Solberg in WRC2 had tire issues. But why is this? Is it the length of the loops? Is it just conditions? Was it another factor? The short answer is, it’s the length and the conditions. A lot of times on the stages the drivers were overheating their tires. Causing the tires to lose tread faster as a result. This was merely a result of the conditions, seeing as the stages took place on warm gravel on a generally warm spring day. Add that to the 20+ km on each stage and you have achieved a great way to destroy any tire in sight. 

Why Did Tire Preservation Change The Event?

Simply put, tire preservation took away drivers’ chances at gaining time and being able to push. Ott Tänak was the only one to benefit from the tire chaos on the day. By extending his lead to some 58 seconds ahead of Suninen. Without the tire troubles, Tänak would likely only lead by about a dozen seconds. With nobody pushing it opened up a lot of time for Tänak to take. Mind you Tänak wasn’t exempt from the tire problem, but he didn’t get hit hard by it either. He did just enough to preserve the tires whilst gaining time. The tire issue changed drivers’ mindsets from winning to just wanting to finish. Sure both of those things are on drivers’ minds during any event, but when nature is against you, you turn to survival. Hopefully, the tires don’t prove to be as big of an issue on the fourth and final day of Rally Chile BioBio.