The Gods must be crazy ….
- 29th May 2007, 3:33pm
For the 2007 WRC calendar’s eighth and also roughest round, the American tyre manufacturer will have three tyre types available: the g-Force Gravel, the H1 and the H2, all of which will be equipped with the indispensable mousse run-flat system.
Sisyphus, founder and King of Corinth, was a very smart man, to the point that he even managed to cheat Death. When Thanatos, Greek mythology's 'Grim Reaper', came to seek him, he tied him up so that he couldn't cart him off to Hades. For defying the Gods, however, Sisyphus was condemned to ceaselessly roll a rock to the top of a hill whence it would fall back of its own weight.
Sisyphus' story tells of the dreadful punishment represented by futile, hopeless labour. Such as that, for example, of Sébastien Loeb in Sardinia the other week when his hopes of winning were thwarted by a rock just as victory seemed to be in his grasp.
The incident deprived the Frenchman of a 33rd world class win, of his position as leader of the provisional Drivers' standings and his status as a rallying god. As a result, the Citroën driver will line up for the start of the 54th Acropolis Rally in the city of Athena – Goddess of Wisdom – as a simple and vulnerable, albeit valiant Hero.
Now wisdom is something drivers will require plenty of this weekend when they take on the sunbaked Hellenic mountain tracks that are reputed for being the roughest and most punishing of the year for the mechanicals, and something of a rocky horror show for the tyres.
"With the exception of Aghii Theodhori, the stages are actually not all that long," points out Chief BFGoodrich Technician Patrick Letort. "By the time crews come round for the second pass, though, they are totally cut up. For these conditions, BFGoodrich WRC drivers will be able to choose between the new extra-hard 10 compound g-Force Gravel that several drivers ran in Sardinia, the H1 Dani Sordo used in Greece in 2006 and the H2, a specific ’Acropolis’ tyre with which Marcus Grönholm claimed eight stage wins on his way to his maiden win on this rally in 2006."
All these tyres will be equipped with the mousse run-flat system without which none of the WRC runners would have gone the distance on the 2006 Acropolis Rally since they all picked up at least one puncture. Designed and developed by the Michelin Group for the challenge of the Greek stages, the system was launched exactly 20 years ago.
Two decades later, after warding off countless misfortunes for generations of top drivers, it is poised to disappear from the sport. From Gods, tyres could well become simple Heroes once more. Epic or tragic? Vulnerable, certainly….
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