These tokens of appreciation were not merely standard black items painted up to look the part, either. Colorants were added to the compound during the production process, and strips of the coloured rubber were laid onto the casing of a rally tyre, with a number of varying combinations of pattern employed including an asphalt pattern for WRC champion SÉbastien Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena.
The sidewalls, although black, were also made using the coloured rubber compound; genuine rally compound would have blended with the other colours within days. The tyres were then vulcanised using the same process as a standard tyre; in total production of the coloured tyres took about 300 hours.
All up the Groupe Michelin competition workshops in Clermont-Ferrand made 11 coloured tyres, each of which had an individual message hand etched into the rubber. "Everything was done by hand, using a drawing and stencil. It took a steady hand, I can tell you! Afterwards, the edges were milled to obtain a perfect finish. I spent between 20 and 25 hours on each tyre," reported tyre artiste Antonio Ferreira.
The recipients, including Loeb and second-placed Marcus Gronholm, were reportedly moved by the tyremaker’s gesture. "It’s magnificent, and really original," said Gronholm. "It mirrors the careful, hard work that everyone in the Michelin Group has put in all these years." Loeb, after praising the coloured tyres, added: “I have always had the utmost faith in the Michelin Group’s and I’m sure I will miss them on next year’s Monte Carlo Rally." (Tyres & Accessories/Staffordshire, U.K.)