Michelin will be the most active tyre manufacturer on the 2016 Dakar, the world’s best-known cross-country rally and an event that permits open competition between tyre manufacturers. The French firm will provide rubber for the majority of the 354 vehicles entered for January’s competition.
Peugeot Sport, which made its Dakar comeback in 2015, has entered four Peugeot 2008 DKRs for this year’s rally. They will be in the hands of Cyril Despres, Dakar rookie Sébastien Loeb, Stéphane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz who will all run on the new MICHELIN D16 (D16: ‘Dakar 16’) which was developed especially for the front-wheel drive car.
The MICHELIN D16 is much more than a mere evolution of the D15 which made its Dakar debut last January. It has been revised from A to Z and features both a new construction and a new tread pattern. It is also lighter.
It was designed to match the demands of the latest Peugeot 2008 DKR and delivers improved grip on all types of ground, enhanced driving comfort and greater stability under braking. A busy test programme in 2015, which included visits to the Moroccan desert, enabled the two partners to sign off the latest version which will allow the French team’s drivers to enjoy improved performance and safety.
“Our involvement in cross-country rallying represents a very big challenge and sends out a strong signal,” says Michelin Motorsport Director Pascal COUASNON. “We use all the disciplines in which we compete as laboratories to develop new technologies and the Dakar stands out as one of the most extreme tests of them all. Cross-country rallies are the best way to collect data in conditions that are difficult to reproduce, but they are also a formidable adventure where we work with world class drivers and riders.”
A star-studded entry for the 2016 Dakar
The recruitment of Sébastien Loeb alongside Stéphane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz at Peugeot Sport and that of Mikko Hirvonen by Mini X-Raid as team-mate to Nasser Al-Attiyah and Nani Roma is sure to draw even more attention to the factory runners. And the list of top entries continues with the new Toyota Hilux prototypes developed by the Japanese make’s South African subsidiary whose bid for outright honours is led by Giniel De Villiers.
In addition to its interest on the sporting and technical fronts, the Dakar enjoys a global media following. “Although the 2016 Dakar only visits Argentina and Bolivia, it will benefit from worldwide coverage,” notes Michelin Motorsport’s Marketing Director Olivier VIALLE. “In 2015, almost five million spectators turned out to watch the stages, while the action could also be seen on TV in 190 countries thanks to some 1,200 hours of broadcasts. Around 1,400 journalists from 30 countries ensure extensive coverage and this clearly helps to highlight the exceptional performance of our tyres.”
Bespoke tyres for every class
All Michelin’s partners, whether they are competing on two wheels, in a truck or in a two- or four-wheel car, will be able to take advantage of the French company’s know-how thanks to a range of tyres adapted to each type of vehicle.
Cars: the MICHELIN D16 and MICHELIN Latitude C
The Peugeot 2008 DKRs will compete on the new MICHELIN D16 which was developed exclusively for the French two-wheel drive car. The MICHELIN Latitude C is for four-wheel drive vehicles like the X-Raid Minis, the Toyota Hiluxes and the class’s other partners. The MICHELIN Latitude C is robust and designed to cope with the knocks and constraints associated with the aggressive South American terrain. At the same time, it delivers the necessary traction to drive over the event’s infamous sand dunes. To achieve this, Michelin has developed a strong but flexible casing that is capable of running at low pressures, as well as an efficient tread pattern.
Buggies: the BFGoodrich Baja T/A KR2
The buggies are lighter than the all-wheel drive cars and are able to run on this recently developed tyre which was designed in 2013 for the 2014 Dakar. It is made by the Michelin Group’s specialist off-road brand and features specific characteristics and dimensions. Its tread is designed to deliver maximum traction on soft ground, in addition to balanced braking performance. Its flexible casing enables it to run at low pressures in order to benefit from a large contact patch. The bead area has been reinforced to minimise the risk of damage.
Bikes: the MICHELIN Desert Race + the MICHELIN Bib Mousse
The MICHELIN Desert Race’s advanced technology has helped it to win the last five Dakars. True to Michelin’s reputation for durability and versatility, the Desert Race provides grip and manoeuvrability on all types of terrain, even on rocky ground. It is suited to factory and privateer bikes alike and can be purchased over the counter. It is combined with the MICHELIN Bib Mousse run-flat system which consists in replacing the air inside the cover by a foam insert that simulates a tyre pressure of 1.2 bar. This simple, high-tech solution is lighter than an inner-tube and is capable of withstanding the high temperatures generated by bikes’ high speeds, while at the same time soaking up the inevitable repeated knocks.
Trucks: the MICHELIN XZL+
This is the leading cross-country rally tyre for trucks. After decades of success with the MICHELIN XZL, the Clermont-Ferrand firm recently introduced a ‘+’ version which also figures in Michelin’s catalogue for construction site vehicles. The MICHELIN XZL+ stands out through its ability to run at low pressures, as well as through its traction performance on soft ground. Once again, it will be seen on a high number of trucks competing on the 2016 Dakar.
The 24/7 premium Michelin Service Center for 2016 Dakar competitors
Michelin’s partners have their tyres delivered to them at their respective headquarters and are in charge of shipping them to South America themselves. During the event, all competitors – whether they are competing on the French firm’s rubber or on the products of another brand – benefit from the Michelin Service Center which travels from overnight camp to overnight camp and where they can seek tyre-related advice from 10 specialist fitters.
Meanwhile, Michelin’s Technical Team Advisors help partners analyse wear after each stage and recommend strategies for the following day’s action, including suggested air pressures.
More than 3,000 tyres will be fitted and/or stripped in the course of the 2016 Dakar. After use, the covers are analysed and the information is passed on to Michelin’s Research and Development Centre in Ladoux, near Clermont-Ferrand, France, where the group’s tyres of tomorrow are designed.
Michelin tyres for the 2016 Dakar
|BFG Baja T/A KR2||MICHELIN
|Vehicle type||4×2 cars||4×4 cars||Buggies||Motorbikes||Trucks|
|Size||37/12.5-17||245/80R16||37/12.5-17||Front: 90/90-21 Rear: 140/80R18||14.00R20|
|Characteristics||Lateral grip; driving comfort; stability under braking||Robust, flexible casing; enhanced durability||Specific tread pattern; reinforced construction||Grip; traction; versatility; manoeuvrability||Traction, longevity; high load capacity|
|Features||Tall side walls; chunky tread pattern||Tall side walls||Tall side walls; chunky tread pattern||High-speed stability; stability under braking||Ability to run at low pressures|
|Development year(s)||2015||2012||2014||2011, 2012 and 2013||2013|
|Rally-raid buggies||Catalogue tyre||Catalogue tyre|