Rally Cyprus is the only event in the 2009 calendar to feature a mixture of both gravel and asphalt surfaces. The first day of the rally will be contested on asphalt, while the following two will be ran on gravel. However, due to cost-related reasons, it was decided that all WRC teams will use a single type of tires through the entire event, gravel ones.
Reigning world champion Sebastien Loeb was one of the drivers to disagree with such a measure, as running with gravel tires on asphalt can prove rather difficult and dangerous for the WRC competitors. Taking this under consideration, the Cyprus organizers have decided to offer the WRC crews alternative tires after the first and longest stage of each loop - the 30.33km Panagia (SS1/SS4), as announced by the WRC website.
“The general feeling from the drivers was not so bad, although obviously they slide more than with the tarmac tires,” said Pirelli’s tire manager, Mario Isola, commenting on the results of Ford's testing session in Sardinia, Italy, and Citroen's tests in Alicante, Spain.
“We were worried about the possibility of blistering but it didn’t happen. With both teams we completed a simulation of one loop of the first day - so more or less 70km. Now we have enough information to say the tire should last for the first day.”
“In the refuel zone after the first 30km stage we will send two tires for each car. They are not obliged to change them, but if they want they can give us two used tires and we give them two new ones. This way, if they carry two spares, they can start the second stage with four new tires,” concluded Isola.