Michelin bids for WRC return
Michelin's competitions director Nick Shorrock has revealed to AUTOSPORT that the French firm is bidding to return to the World Rally Championship for the first time since 2005.
Michelin departed the WRC at the end of that year, rebranding its headline rally involvement as BF Goodrich for the following two seasons, before Pirelli was awarded a sole-supplier contract from 2008 until the end of this season.
After weeks of speculation, Shorrock confirmed Michelin has contacted the FIA to make the governing body aware of its desire to supply tyres to the WRC. The deadline for tyre companies letting the FIA know they are interested in supplying the teams is today.
Shorrock said: "There's a process involved with the FIA and the first part of that process is to inform the FIA that we want to supply tyres. We have done that and I can confirm it is Michelin [not BF Goodrich] which we hope will be competing in the WRC.
"Now we have to wait until September 13, when the FIA will let us know the tyre companies which are to be permitted to supply tyres. And then we have to find out if anybody wants to run with our tyres."
Peugeot Sport driver Stephane Sarrazin was reported to be testing Michelin's WRC tyres in the South of France earlier this week, using a Peugeot 307 WRC as a test car. AUTOSPORT contacted Sarrazin, who confirmed he was at the test, but was unable to discuss anything else.
Michelin has maintained a rally presence since departing the WRC, running with the BF Goodrich brand in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge since 2007.
Current WRC tyre supplier Pirelli has not yet made clear whether it will seek to retain a position in the series it has served exclusively for the past three years. A spokesman from Pirelli said: "Pirelli is still considering its options. We will let you know our decision as soon as possible."
One senior team principal said: "It's great news that Michelin wants to be involved again, but you have to ask if this is the right time for open competition again - and, frankly, it's not.
"Pirelli made a perfect offer to the FIA last year and it should have been accepted. It was common sense to take Pirelli for another three years - that would have seen us through the remainder of the storm and then bring competition back, when the sport's back to its best again."