You can't win 'em all, but you can win some. So while Pirelli may have beaten Michelin to the punch for the F1 tire supply contract, hesitation to find itself spread too thin led to its subsequently dropping out of the World Rally Championship. Well it looks like Pirelli's gain and subsequent loss will be Michelin's gain as well, as the French rubber company has announced it will be picking up (at least some of) Pirelli's slack on the rally scene.
Rather than continue with an exclusive contract (as F1 has), the WRC is slated to switch to a multi-supplier framework, opening up the series to numerous tire manufacturers to participate. And Michelin, it seems, will be the first, aligning itself with the FIA's mandate to reduce the amount of rubber burnt in each stage and thereby reduce its environmental impact.
Michelin's return to the World Rally Championship will start with next season, and marks the first time the French tire manufacturer has participated in the top-flight rally series since 2005. Rather than participating under its BFGoodrich brand as it does in the rival Intercontinental Rally Challenge, Michelin's renewed WRC program will be fielded under its own name. Official announcement in the press release after the jump.
NEW OUTLOOK FOR MICHELIN IN RALLY RACING
Paris - September 14, 2010
The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) has accepted Michelin's application to supply tyres for the World Rally Championship (FIA-WRC) beginning in 2011.
Michelin's application was prompted by the FIA's decision to open the championship to more than one tyre manufacturer and by the likelihood of a rule change.
Racing offers Michelin's teams the opportunity to validate their technological innovations in the most extreme conditions of use. These innovations will then be transferred to street tyres, thereby helping to improve the performance balance and lower the environmental impact of Michelin's products. Motorsports also provide a powerful incentive for Michelin to further its mission of ensuring sustainable mobility.
That's why Michelin supports the FIA in its commitment to integrating a more responsible vision of rallying by reducing the number of tyres used in races, beginning in 2012. This is in line with an environmental approach that Michelin has been pursuing since 1992, when it introduced its first fuel efficient tyre.
Michelin participated in the premier-class category of rally racing when competition was open to several tyre makers, until 2005, winning 38 world championships titles over the years, a testimonial to its extensive skills and expertise. Of that total, 20 were in the manufacturers category, created in 1973, and 18 were in the drivers category, officially introduced in 1979.
Next season, Michelin will supply its partners with Michelin-brand rally tyres.