Friday, January 14, 2005

Tired out (and only two weeks to go)

Dunlop D93J
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
I must apologise to my readers for another prosaic post but believe it or not this is a critical issue for me. I fnally got the tyres/tires (sorry but my European roots show occasionally) for the Mini sorted out today. The Maxsport products I mentioned in a previous post were unavailable in the correct size so I finally plumped for Dunlop wet weather covers. The choice of rubber has been one of the biggest issues concerning us as the car has been prepared. Tyre selection has always been as issue on Monte Carlo rally because of the diversity of the road conditions. The crews can expect anything: dry tarmac, torrential rain, black ice, sheet ice, snow (powder), snow (packed), snow (slush), mud, etc. etc. You get the picture. If a surface exists we can expect to encounter it, with the possible exception of sun-baked wadi beds although I won't entirely rule them out either. For the 1965 MC rally, Dunlop famously made 600 assorted tyres available to the BMC Competitions Department. No wonder the works crews did so well. For those of us who have a limited budget (and it still feels like I've melted my credit card of late) we have to be a little more economic in our choices.

In 2002, to the amusement of some of my fellow team members, not to mention Monty Watkins, editor of MiniWorld, I did the rally on Yokohama 008s with a set of Colway studded mud and snow tyres in reserve in the service vehicle. As it happened it was a "dry" rally with virtually no snow and only icy patches for 1 or 2 Km on the Sisteron stage (on which I managaged to slide off: I shall be eternally thankful to the crew in the Citroen who helped push us back on the road). For the most part the Yokies performed admirably. They are brilliant on dry tarmac and unbelievably sticky however in the wet they are less secure and on long fast bends there is disconcerting feeling of slight understeer and I was never quite confident that the car wouldn't "let go". By the end of the rally we'd pretty much worn out all four of them so new covers were needed for the 2005 event. Most of my rally mates opt for the M&S type tyre. Personally I hate them. They are noisy, bounce around too much and worst of all have poor levels of grip. Now maybe they would be fine in mud or wet grass but really these types of conditions are, despite my comments above, are rare to non-existent. They are certainly crap in snow and I can't think why they are so popular. Maybe because they are cheap and a kind of Jack-of-all trades. What's really necessary for 75%+ of the the rally is a really good wet weather tyre. Thus after doing a lot of asking around and searching all over the web came to the conclusion that Dunlop D93Js were the cover of choice. They are out and out competiton tyres and are supposedly brilliant in the rain. Unfortunately I was quoted a price of £75 each. Now as we need six tyres this equated to nearly $1000, given the current Dollar/Stirling excahge rate, and put them outside our budget. To cut a long story short, Bill Richards today announced that he'd negotiated a very deep discount with Dunlop and suddenly these tyres were "affordable". Fantastic news! I'm pretty sure they'll be much better than the compromise retreads we'd planned to use. I'll write something about them while we're en route. let's hope they live up to the claims made by their marketing department (no I didn't say hype). So hopefully we should be ok being armed with the Dunlops and the still unused (please God let's keep it that way) studded Colways we should be ready for all eventualities. Big thanks go to Dunlop Vintage Tyres. Oh, and Monty, if you read this, please no more piss-taking, I've been thoroughly flagellated with the "...did you hear the one about the bloke who did the MC rally on Yokies...?" story!
The rally kicks off two weeks today and I've got an awful lot of things to do between now and then.


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