Road Rally Tyres

The recent exclusion of a competitor at a Road Rally for presenting a car fitted with tyres that appear on the “List of Eligible Asphalt Tyres for FIA Rallies” lead to much discussion concerning tyre eligibility with particular focus on Tyre Lists 1B and 1C.

Tyre List 1 exists to establish tyres that are suitable for use in circuit racing and speed events. Until recently it would have been clear enough to state that these were road tyres suitable for racing but changes to EU Regulations, the very reason for the current uncertainty means that that term only serves to confuse the issue further.

Changes brought about by EU Regulations have been quite far reaching across the industry, the result is a number of the tyres previously on Tyre List 1B are no longer able to comply with the EU regulations. To provide a home for those tyres and remembering that the primary purpose of Tyre List 1 is the categorisation of tyres for use on racing circuits, the MSA Tyre Advisory Panel created Tyre List 1C.

Returning to the question of tyre eligibility for Road Rallies. The first principle for any Road Rally Car is contained in R18.6.

R18.6. The vehicle must be currently registered and taxed as a Private Car and comply with all statutory regulations as to the Construction and Use regulations (especially regarding brakes, lighting, tyres, warning devices, rear view mirrors, silencers, speedometers, wings and windscreens).

This is further emphasised by R18.4.1. with specific regard to tyres.

R18.4.1. Vehicles must be fitted with tyres that are always legal for use on the public highway.

It shouldn’t really need stating but the car must be road legal. That judgement whether as Scrutineer or competitor becomes more complicated when you start modifying a car from its original specification. There are a number of factors concerning tyres, sizes, load and speed ratings, condition and so on, equally there is a more general caveat and first principle, that the tyres must be suitable for the purpose of their use. This is of course subjective to a degree but is relevant when considering the matter of the tyres that appear on List 1C.

Road Rallies for the most part will traverse highways in all states of repair and condition, typically the competitive sections will be set over the tighter twistier and poorer roads, often covered in weather caused detritus or dragged onto the highway from adjacent land by agricultural operations. This is a sweeping generalisation but a tyre suitable for a Road Rally needs to have a general suitability to all potential conditions that might be encountered, and unlike a Stage Rally, Road Rallies do not allow outside assistance with the ability to change tyres to suit different conditions. Therefore, a tyre that is heavily biased towards a certain set of conditions may not be seen to be “always legal for use on the public highway.”

Returning to Tyre List 1C. As stated above the origin of this Tyre List lies in the change to EU Labelling Regulations and the need to find a home for tyres that no longer complied with those legal regulations but which still had a place in racing. The majority of the tyres on Tyre List 1C are advertised and promoted by the manufacturers and their agents emphasising dry weather performance and suitability for circuit and track use. Not qualities that suggest all weather suitability nor for the less maintained highways and byways so favoured by Road Rally organisers and competitors alike.

Confusion following the changes to EU Regulations, keeping Section L up to date and the need to bring simpler regulations which don’t require the same degree of knowledge and understanding of the legal issues not always immediately apparent will see Rallies Committee publish a set of proposals later this month. In the interim the above is issued as explanation and clarification concerning the eligibility of Tyre List 1C on Road Rallies.