Meeting a good-looking stud on Rally Sweden

Meeting a good-looking stud on Rally Sweden

11.02.2017: ...and we don't mean Mike Chen As a rally driver, it might be disconcerting to place your trust in a pile

...and we don't mean Mike Chen

As a rally driver, it might be disconcerting to place your trust in a pile of two-centimetre nails. But hey, these are really important nails. They make the difference between traction and no action. Hero or zero. Champ or chump…call it what you will.

Every single tyre on Rally Sweden is fitted with 384 metal studs, which are designed to cut through the surface snow and bite into the ice underneath. That’s 1536 studs on each car (actually, a few more if you include the spare wheels too).

With 41 cars on the entry list, this makes a total of 62,976 studs on the road at any one time. Each stud weighs about four grams, so that’s the equivalent of more than 250 kilograms of metal being lugged around as well.

And the studs are only the tip of the iceberg: quite literally. Of the two-centimetre total length of each stud, only six millimetres protrude above the tread – which shows how firmly they are anchored in place.

These studs are inserted into the tyres after they are made, with the whole process taking about 45 minutes to complete.

So it’s obviously a complex ritual. Red Bull TV presenter Mike Chen digs deeper to reveal the science behind the studs and answer the fundamental question we’ve all been wondering ever since snow first fell on Rally Sweden: how the hell do the cars actually stay on the road?

Mike finds out, delving into the world of rubber to discover its black (and round) secrets. Along with World Rally Championship star Andreas Mikkelsen, Mike is fronting Red Bull TV’s coverage from Rally Sweden: today the dynamic duo host a live programme from the most famous stage of the rally, Vargasen, at 14:50 CET.

That stage contains the epic jump at Colin’s Crest: the one place on Rally Sweden where the tyres get a bit of a rest, as the cars fly through the air for nearly 50 metres. Grip not needed.

The rest of the time, part of the challenge for every driver in Sweden consists of keeping the studs in the tyres: not easy when there are occasional patches of gravel just waiting to rip them out.

 This is something that drivers actually practise during pre-Sweden testing, deliberately seeking out gravelly sections on their test stages to replicate the tricky conditions when roads become degraded and tyres lose their studs.

“It’s fascinating to delve into all the complex details of tyres on Rally Sweden and to understand the massive grip that those tiny studs can offer,” points out Mike.

“Sweden may not present the crews with all the different tyre choices they face in Monte-Carlo, but the conditions are just as varied and there’s a real art to getting the best out of the tyres here.”

Unbelievably, the grip offered by studded tyres on snow is actually superior to that generated by treaded tyres on gravel. On gravel, a World Rally Car will cover about 125 metres as it accelerates from 0-100 kph. On snow, only 107 metres are needed to get to 100kph. That’s a whole 14% faster.

Enjoy. And don’t forget to catch all the highlights on Red Bull TV tonight and tomorrow from 22:00 CET.


Highlight show - Friday 10 Feb: 22.00 (CET)
Live coverage - Saturday 11 Feb: 14.50 (CET)
Highlight show - Saturday 11 Feb: 22.00 (CET)
Highlight show - Sunday 12 Feb: 22.00 (CET)

Watch online at or download the app

Red Bull TV · Janus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool,  Credit: Clemens Kügler/Red Bull Content Pool


11.02.2017 / MaP

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