BFGoodrich: a key player on the Dakar
The American tyre brand, a Dakar partner and official supplier since 2016, boasts 16 victories in the most prestigious of rally-raids. It equips 80% of the 4×4 fleet as well as light vehicles, and sets up the BFGoodrich Dakar Service Center throughout the entire race, enabling the competitors to repair and change tyres. Below, we take a look back at the long and rich history of BFGoodrich with the Dakar.
BFGoodrich: innovation at heart
The American brand is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2020. “Since 1870, innovation has always been at the heart of our activity,” underlines Sandrine Combeaux, Head of Southern Europe Business for the tyre-maker. Indeed, it was founded by Benjamin Franklin Goodrich following a fire when this doctor in trade noticed that the firemen were helpless because their leather hose had frozen and cracked. Consequently, he decided to commence manufacturing rubber hoses that would withstand freezing. BFGoodrich thereafter became the first manufacturer of tyres in North America intended for the automobile and aeronautical industries.
A key player in major moments in history and motorsports
BFGoodrich tyres have been present for major moments in history. In 1927, when Charles Lindbergh became the first aviator to cross the Atlantic, his aircraft was fitted with BFGoodrich tyres. This was also the case for the space shuttle Columbia. In sporting terms, it was the first tyre manufacturer to accompany two wins on the legendary Indianapolis 500. BFGoodrich then experienced exceptional development regarding its all-terrain tyres. Its tyres were used for the victories on the Le Mans 24 Hours race (in 1984), at the Baja 1000 (between California and Mexico) more than 20 times, on the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and they have also been the product of preference for several winners in the WRC. The American firm, owned by the Michelin group, can thus point to more than 200 victories in different world championships, making it the manufacturer involved in all-terrain motorsport associated with the largest amount of triumphs in history.
A (very) successful history on the Dakar
The Dakar has not missed out on BFGoodrich’s conquests. The brand was involved in victory for the first time in 1999 on the tracks of Africa with Jean-Louis Schlesser. Thereafter, BFGoodrich enjoyed 11 consecutive successes thanks to Hiroshi Masuoka, Stéphane Peterhansel, Luc Alphand, Giniel de Villiers, Carlos Sainz and Nasser Al-Attiyah… Since 2017, the manufacturer has been present on the wheels of all the podium-placed drivers, as in the most recent edition (with Carlos Sainz, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Stéphane Peterhansel). “In total, the BFGoodrich brand has equipped the winner 16 times on the most renowned and toughest of rally-raids,” explains Sandrine Combeaux, Head of Southern Europe Business. The Michelin group, which owns the American manufacturer and the Michelin brand, has therefore been essential to success on the three continents on which the rally’s previous editions have taken place: in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.
80% of 4×4 and SSVs are equipped with BFGoodrich tyres
“To satisfy their technological and technical requirements, most teams racing 4×4 and light vehicles have chosen BFGoodrich. We have types of tyres that adapt perfectly to the particularities of the terrain, such as the stony and aggressive ground and long chains of dunes,” points out Sandrine Combeaux. The brand boasts a reference the field: the BFGoodrich ALL TERRAIN T/A KO2 which has been used on 4x4s since 1976. In fact, it is the 5th generation of this tyre that is adaptable to all surfaces and which can prove to be valuable for experienced and amateur drivers alike. Furthermore, all the brand’s customers can drive with the BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 SSV, presented on the Dakar two years ago and adapted for light vehicles, a booming category.
“We take advantage of the toughness of the Dakar to test innovations, validate them and run-in our tyres. This allows us to be in phase with the technology we offer and to propose it to the passenger vehicle market. Testing and using a tyre on the Dakar is a guarantee of seriousness, quality and reliability for the general public”.
The BFGoodrich Dakar Service Center: at the service of all competitors
At each bivouac, the competitors can visit the BFGoodrich Dakar Service Center. “It is a mobile structure that allows everybody the possibility of having their tyres repaired and replaced but also finding consolation after completion of a difficult stage,” underlines Sandrine Combeaux. For example, from 15.00 to 23.00, a team of 12 people including 8 fitters, are at the competitors’ service. They also provide advice on the choice of rubber and pressure to use on the following day’s special. On the last edition, approximately 2,500 tyres were fitted or removed using BFGoodrich’s machines. “All the information that we gather in the field is paramount for developing our future ranges of tyres. For us, the Dakar is a full-scale testing lab,” concludes the Head of BFGoodrich for Southern Europe.
BFGoodrich and the Dakar in short:
· A rally partner and official supplier since 2016.
· BFGoodrich has been associated with victory 16 times on the Dakar and has thus shone on the three continents where the rally-raid has taken place: in Africa, Latin America and Saudi Arabia.
· Since 2017, the brand has fitted all of the top 3 in the car race.
· The American brand supplies the tyres for 80% of competitors driving 4x4s and lightweight vehicles.
· The BFGoodrich Dakar Service Center, open to all competitors, boasts a team of 12 people. 2,500 tyres were fitted or repaired last year.
· The brand takes advantage of the Dakar to test its tyres before putting them on general sale, as with the BFGoodrich ALL TERRAIN T/A KO2 launched in 1976.