French racer rallies to win in Portugal on Pirelli Scorpions

Jan. 1, 2020
Riding on Pirelli Scorpion tires, 26-year-old Sebastien Ogier became the 18th French driver in history to win a World Rally Championship event by emerging victorious ahead of Sebastien Loeb in the Rally de Portugal.

Riding on Pirelli Scorpion tires, 26-year-old Sebastien Ogier became the 18th French driver in history to win a World Rally Championship event by emerging victorious ahead of Sebastien Loeb in the Rally de Portugal.

“It’s a fantastic feeling, really fantastic,” says Ogier, who was joined on the podium by co-driver Julien Ingrassia. “Sebastien Loeb is the best driver in the world, and it’s always difficult to conserve the lead when he is behind you. But we pushed hard for (the entire) rally and managed to keep him behind.”

Ogier’s maiden WRC victory occurred at one of the most challenging rallies of the season due to the extremely abrasive nature of the gravel roads spread atop a punishing bedrock base, according to Rafael Navarro III, director of motorsports and media relations. Ground-temperatures hovered around 102 degrees with an ambient level of 86 degrees.

“It was a very hard rally for the Pirelli tire because the roads are very rough and abrasive, but the performance of the tire has been good,” says Ogier. “I drove more cleanly than usual to keep the performance of the tire consistent. I was never aggressive with the throttle and always smooth with the steering wheel and that made a big difference.”

Loeb, who maintains a firm grip on the drivers’ series standings lead, was full of praise for Ogier at the finish: “I tried to beat him but he was just too fast. I have a new rival now. Regarding my tires, I have to say they have been going well here because we have a very hard surface. It’s particularly tough on the second pass of the longer stages.”

“Like the drivers and engineers, we knew before the start of the rally that there would be tire wear issues,” says Pirelli senior engineer Matteo Braga. “The stages were very tough and the temperatures were very high, so I am very pleased with the performance of our tires because the really the hard-compound Scorpion tire we used here is a compromise due to the control tire regulations we adhere to,” he explains.

“We have seen that the drivers who managed their tires effectively for the whole stage distance were richly rewarded,” recounts Braga, “such as Sebastien Ogier – who drove very fast under pressure and managed his tires perfectly.”

For more information, visit www.us.pirelli.com.

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