Michelin is to debut its all-new wet weather tire for the WRC at the ADAC Rallye Deutschland (August 18-21). Thanks to its specific tread pattern, the new Michelin Pilot Sport FW2 features a higher water clearance capacity and provides crews with enhanced safety in heavy rain since the size of its contact patch has been doubled. Designed for use on asphalt rounds of the FIA WRC, the first of four consecutive sealed-surface events which also include October’s Rally RACC Catalunya-Rally de España.
At the end of 2015, following extensive talks with the drivers, teams and manufactures, the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) submitted a formal request for a genuine wet weather tire for the WRC in order to combat the phenomenon of aquaplaning, whereby a film of water forms between the road and the tire’s tread in heavy rain. This led to the development by Michelin of a second-generation version of its wet weather tire for the world championship: the Michelin Pilot Sport FW2 (FW = Full Wet). Thanks to its specific tread pattern which features a high degree of grooving, with channels that clear water to the sides, the Michelin Pilot Sport FW2 pushes back the aquaplaning threshold to provide longitudinal and lateral grip, as well as enhanced traction, both in a straight line and when cornering.
“The clearance capacity of the Michelin Pilot Sport FW2 marks an improvement over that of the Michelin Pilot Sport H5/S5,” said Jacques Morelli, manager of Michelin’s FIA WRC programme. “Thanks to its narrower tread compared with the Michelin Pilot Sport H5 and S5 [175mm instead of 202mm], its deeper grooves [7mm instead of 6mm] and a sea-to-land ratio higher than the 27.5 percent dictated by the regulations, the contact patch of this new Michelin tire has been doubled in heavy rain. We obviously don’t know whether the crews will get to use these tires on the upcoming asphalt rallies but, if they do, we know they have the potential to obtain top results.”
The Michelin Pilot Sport FW2 is intended for extreme conditions only, however, and drivers will be restricted to an allocation of eight tires per car per rally.