Michelin declares its first FIA WRC victory with Hyundai Motorsport and NEUVILLE / GILSOUL

The ADAC Rallye Deutschland, round nine of the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), ended on Sunday, August 24, with the first win – and first one-two finish! – for Hyundai Motorsport in rallying’s showcase series.

It’s considered the first world class success for Michelin in partnership with its Korean partner, the rallying department of which is based in Alzenau, Germany. After the promising third-place finishes they secured earlier in the year in Mexico and Poland, Thierry NEUVILLE and Nicolas GILSOUL put the N°7 Hyundai i20 WRC on the highest step of the podium in Germany, followed in the order by Dani SORDO and Marc MARTI in the N°8 sister car. Both Hyundai Motorsport crews survived what turned out to be a particularly taxing and drama-filled event. The Belgian pair produced a mature performance to claim their first WRC victory, while Dani SORDO provided another example of his speed on asphalt.

Michelin declares its first FIA WRC victory with Hyundai Motorsport and NEUVILLE / GILSOUL

The 2014 Rallye Deutschland took place in fickle weather and cool, autumn-like temperatures. Indeed, the delicate conditions and tricky stages caught out a high number of front-runners, resulting in some dramatic changes to the leaderboard.

The unpredictable weather seemed to be both hard- and soft-compound tyres were used at different times depending on the teams’ respective strategies. The MICHELIN Pilot Sport H2 (hard) was the preferred choice for Friday’s dry roads, but the softer S2 version was the chief option for the remainder of the rally, including for the visits to the notoriously punishing Panzerplatte test.

Pascal COUASNON (Director, Michelin Motorsport): “My congratulations to Hyundai Motorsport. To have won a rally so soon after its FIA World Rally Championship debut is a big achievement. Bravo to Michel NANDAN and everyone in the team. Their one-two finish on such a demanding asphalt event as Rallye Deutschland is a fitting reward for the quality work they have put in during their maiden season. Congratulations, too, of course, to Thierry NEUVILLE and Nicolas GILSOUL on their first WRC victory, as well as to Dani SORDO and Marc MARTI on their first class performance.”

Jacques MORELLI, the manager of Michelin’s rally programmes, reviews the performance of the French firm’s tyres in Germany: “Not only were our tyres competitive and durable but they also proved remarkably strong, as illustrated by the big knock taken by Andreas MIKKELSEN’s rear-left wheel on Friday. The rim sustained significant damage but the tyre remained intact and allowed the Norwegian to complete the stage and drive back to service without having to change the wheel. Andreas and his co-driver Ola FLOENE went on to finish third overall.”

The rain was not heavy enough, however, to warrant use of the new MICHELIN Pilot Sport FW (Full Wet).

For the next round of the 2014 WRC (Rallye de France-Alsace), Michelin will introduce the new MICHELIN Pilot Sport H4/S4, since its current asphalt tyre bowed out of the championship after Rallye Deutschland… with an unbeaten record. The new-generation tyre packs a number of evolutions with regard to its construction and materials, as well as an all-new tread pattern which resembles that of the MICHELIN Pilot Sport Cup 2 road tyre. It will notably deliver additional grip in wet conditions compared with the existing solutions.

The WRC-2 battle in Germany opposed three drivers competing on the tyres of three different brands. The win went to the Michelin-equipped Ford Fiesta R5 of Pontus TIDEMAND and Emil AXELSSON, while Michelin’s successful weekend continued with victory in WRC-3 for Stéphane LEFEBVRE and Thomas DUBOIS.

Technical data

MICHELIN Pilot Sport H2/S2
Size: 235/40R18 (equivalent to 20/65-18) Width: 235 mm
Sidewall height: 94 mm
Interior diameter: 18 inches
Tread pattern: asymmetric, directional
Weight: 12.4 kg
Surface: asphalt
Use (‘H2’ hard version): dry conditions, temperatures >10°C
Use (‘S2’ soft version): wet or damp conditions, dry ground at temperatures <10°C

MICHELIN Pilot Sport FW
Size: 215/45R18 (equivalent to 18/65-18) Width: 215 mm
Sidewall height: 92 mm
Interior diameter: 18 inches
Tread pattern: asymmetric, directional
Weight: 12.4 kg
Surface: asphalt
Use: heavy rain, deep standing water