Loeb wins Rally Norway on Pirelli Sottozero winter tires
Pirelli’s new generation of Sottozero studded tires have proved their worth on the World Rally Championship’s only all-snow event - Rally Norway - which took place close to the Olympic city of Lillehammer this weekend.
Five-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb, who claimed his latest title on Pirelli tires last year, won in Norway after a close battle with the Pirelli-equipped Ford Focus RS WRC of Mikko Hirvonen throughout all three days of the event.
In the past, spiked snow tires for world championship winter rallies used to be of a special narrow size, designed to bite through soft snow to the harder surfaces underneath. This year Pirelli’s tungsten-tipped Sottozero winter tires (which contain 384 studs on each cover) have been designed to fit on standard 15-inch gravel wheel rims, as part of the FIA’s cost-cutting drive, which is fully supported by Pirelli.
Claiming his 49th career win, Loeb commented: “These were classic winter conditions and we had very good grip from the Pirelli Sottozeros. Sometimes, when you could see the ice, it was hard to believe just how much grip there was from the tires.”
Pirelli’s Rally Manager Mario Isola commented: “We’re delighted that our new snow tire has made such a competitive and problem-free debut in these extremely wintry conditions, where temperatures were sometimes close to minus 30 degrees Celsius. Although this tire is of a different design to our asphalt and gravel rally tires, it is still closely related to Pirelli’s road car products – underlining the fact that motorsport provides us with the ultimate research and development tool for our high-performance and all-weather road tires.”
Pirelli also exclusively supplies tires to the Production Car World Rally Championship, which got underway on Rally Norway. The showroom-class category was won by Swedish driver Patrik Sandell at the wheel of a Skoda Fabia S2000 - the first time that such a machine has won a round of the championship. Using the same Pirelli Sottozero tires as the World Rally Cars, Sandell took a commanding win from local man Eyvind Brynildsen in a Mitsubishi Lancer, highlighting the versatility of the Sottozero rubber.