It is mission positive for Team MRF Tyres on the Rally di Roma Capitale, the opening round of the 2020 European Rally Championship.
It is the first time the development tarmac tyres have seen competition and the first time Team MRF Tyres have competed at the top level of tarmac rallying.
Team MRF Tyres drivers, Craig Breen and Paul Nagle led the MRF Tyres charge in the Hyundai i20 R5. He came into the day in fifth and was involved in a huge battle for fourth position with Simone Tempestini/Sergiu Itu with the pair swapping positions through the day.
Breen had started the final loop in fifth place but immediately moved to fourth. He consolidated the gap on the second last stage, building 4.5 second gap before the final stage.
In the end Breen controlled the pace to take fourth place by 1.3 seconds to Tempestini.
For Emil Lindholm and Mikael Korhonen in the Skoda Fabia evo2 R5, it was all about consolidation and improving the cars across each of the loops.
The Skoda duo continued to refine their setup throughout the day with the three passes over each stage giving the team a great opportunity to collect data for the future development of the tyre.
In the overall classification, the pair took a top 10 finish, controlling their position throughout the rally. Additionally, the pair are entered in the ERC1 competition for junior drivers. In this category, he took fifth position, a great start to his campaign.
Stage 10 - Rocca di Cave (7.25km) provided incredible moment for Team MRF Tyres as both drivers posted the exact same time. Both drivers posted a time of 5:12.2, just 7.5 seconds off the stage win.
The crews faced a total distance of 197km competitive action and with 44 R5 cars in the field, it was always going to be a tough rally.
Emil Lindholm and Mikael Korhonen, Team MRF Tyres, Skoda Fabia evo2 R5.
The day was split into three loops of three stages, with 100.8km of total competitive kilometres. The weather was warm and the stages were fast and wide.
It provided the ideal conditions for the tyres development for Team MRF Tyres with both drivers taking the opportunity to test different elements of the tyres in order to gain important data for future development.
It was a successful rally for Team MRF Tyres. In the first tarmac rally for the tyre, it was important to reach the end and gain data and provide some insight on the competitiveness of the tyre.
With both cars reaching the end of the rally, it was a success. To be so competitive, taking a top five position and setting top two stage times, the Rally di Roma Capitale proves to be a positive for the team.
Next time out in the European Rally Championship is the fast gravel roads of Latvia with Rally Liepāja from 14-18 August.
QuotesCraig Breen (Driver, Hyundai i20 R5) – 4th
“We gave it pretty much everything we had. We made gradual improvements over the weekend to learn how to get the best out of the tyre. To finish fourth is great and an absolute credit to the team.
“To think that this tyre barely existed a few weeks ago and to come out and be so competitive is a credit to the team. We gained a lot of valuable data on this rally.
“I really enjoyed it. It has been a pleasure from start to finish. Let’s bring on the next one. Pico just dominated everything and reminds me of home. I would love to go do that stage again!”
Emil Lindholm (Driver, Skoda Fabia evo2 R5) – 10th
“We were able to make improvements to the set up at each service point. It is a process of learning how to maximise the tyre and maximise my own performance. It has been over a year since I have done a tarmac rally, so I am pleased with my result.
“This rally was always about gaining more information on the tyre for its future development. We did this successfully for Team MRF Tyres. Undoubtedly, we will be much wiser next time out!
“It was a weekend without any issues and that is good. There has not been a rally for months and it is good to be back. Importantly, we can see that the tyre is working, and we have more knowledge to work with them.”
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