Here's How WRC Tires Help Race Cars Perform at Their Best on Snow and Ice

Winter tires are different from summer tires, and competition tires are different from street tires. That is the most basic thing we can write about these two categories of tires without going into too much detail. Since we are familiar with your curiosity, we will not be brief and focus on what makes a WRC snow tire different from a studded winter tire made for production cars.
Studded winter tires versus WRC tires 7 photos
Photo: Screenshot from YouTube video by Tyre Reviews
Studded winter tires versus WRC tiresStudded winter tires versus WRC tiresStudded winter tires versus WRC tiresStudded winter tires versus WRC tiresStudded winter tires versus WRC tiresStudded winter tires versus WRC tires
In some countries, studded winter tires are legal, but the tires themselves must be approved for road use. The studded tires are designed to provide extra grip on snow and ice, but without damaging the road surface when the driver reaches roads without ice.

Ideally, you should not drive a vehicle with studded tires on clear roads, but recently manufactured winter tires with studs are designed to prevent damaging the surface of the asphalt.

The studs on the tires can be individually replaced, and that means that they may also be removed if deemed necessary. Since they are made of metal, the manufacturers have selected a kind of metal that will not rust even after prolonged contact with snow, ice, water, and salt. All the above can be met on the road, and the tungsten carbide pins for the studded tires are designed to be durable.

Another important element of these is the fact that they are made to be as light as possible, along with being as small as possible. Less weight and less height of the tire studs will reduce the noise made by these tires on the road, which matters both for the driver, and also for the people around.

Various other elements have been specifically improved for studded tires across the years, not just the type of the stud itself or the composition of the tire, which have also been improved as time went by.

Meanwhile, WRC tires are something of a Fata Morgana for those interested in racing on snow and ice. The tires are supplied by a single manufacturer for WRC events and you cannot get them from a regular tire shop. Moreover, they cannot be bought online, as if you are getting off-the-shelf parts or components.

Instead, Pirelli only sells its WRC tires to either former race car drivers who were involved in the sport and require their tires to offer training events, or to racing teams who are about to enter an event on snow. In the latter case, you might not get WRC tires for any old event held on snow and ice, mind you.

Another thing that stops most people from getting a WRC Snow and Ice tire, also referred to as a Sweden spec tire, is its price. Just one of these tires costs EUR 2,000 (ca. $2,124), which is not exactly cheap. In fact, it is almost four times the price of a studded winter tire from Pirelli, and you are not allowed to use these tires outside of competitions.

Now, the time has come to witness the answer to the most important question. Just how fast can a vehicle be on snow and on ice if it switches from production-grade studded tires to WRC tires? Well, thanks to Jonathan Benson of Tyre Reviews, we are all about to find out.

Before you go ahead and watch, you should be aware that driving a race car that has a rollcage in it should not be done without a helmet, even if you are the only one on the road.

Instead, if you have a cage, you must wear a helmet, and it is recommended to have one that features HANS, and those require the use of four-point seatbelts at the minimum.

Driving a car with a rollcage without a helmet is extremely dangerous, as you risk bumping your head into the metal cage in the event of an accident, and this may lead to a blunt force trauma that turns a mundane accident into a tragedy.

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About the author: Sebastian Toma
Sebastian Toma profile photo

Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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