For the first time in 13 years, Michelin will compete in one of America’s premier motorsports events, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Jan. 25-26.
Excluded in recent years by a series of single specification tire agreements, Michelin has jumped into the “open tire” GT Le Mans (GTLM) class in the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the first event under the merger of the former American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and Grand-Am series.
“Michelin is pleased by the unification of sports car racing in North America and we are looking forward to returning to the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the first season of competition in the new TUDOR Championship,” said Chris Baker, motorsports director for Michelin North America.
Michelin took the overall win at Daytona in 2000 with the Oreca Viper team.
Participating in the rugged GTLM class favored by major factory teams, Michelin has been chosen as the technical partner for the Aston Martin Racing, BMW Team RLL, Corvette Racing, Porsche North America, Risi Competizione Ferrari, Krohn Racing Ferrari and SRT Viper teams. All, except the Ferraris, are full factory teams.
Michelin and its technical partner teams dominated the ALMS with 139 race wins and 392 Prototype and GT class wins in the 147 ALMS races and secured 39 ALMS Class Tire Championships. Also, Michelin has taken the overall wins at Sebring and Petit Le Mans for the past 15 years and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the past 16 years.
While constrained to a single GT class in 2014, Baker sees plenty of challenges for Michelin in the 24-hour event on the 3.56- mile circuit.
“We have over one million race miles at Le Mans over the past 16 years, but just 10,000 miles of testing here at Daytona International Speedway. This is the very first race for the new Corvette and none of our technical partners have raced their current cars here before, so we will all be in a learning mode,” said Baker.
MICHELIN OFFERS TEAMS A “24 FOR 24” PRIZE
To celebrate its return to the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the unification of sports car racing under the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, Michelin is offering a special prize to its technical partner teams.
Michelin GTLM technical partners; Aston Martin Racing, BMW Team RLL, Corvette Racing, Porsche North America, Risi Competizione Ferrari, Krohn Racing Ferrari and SRT Viper are eligible. The Michelin GTLM winning team will receive 24 sets of Michelin street tires for its drivers, engineers, mechanics, managers and staff.
“Our racing technology goes into our street tires, and our teams have helped us develop many of the innovations that we’ve taken to market, including the highly acclaimed Pilot Super Sport, Pilot Sport A/S 3, Defender and our new Michelin Premier tires launched earlier this month,” said Silvia Mammone, motorsports marketing manager for Michelin North America.
“Drivers and team principals get the glory, but winning a 24 hour race demands a total performance by every member of the team, so we want them to share in the victory and enjoy the MICHELIN tires that best suit their own vehicles,” said Mammone.
The race begins at 2:10 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25 (live on FOX) and ends 24 hours later on Sunday afternoon (with continuing coverage on FoxSports 1 and 2).
HOW MICHELIN GOES FROM TRACK TO STREET
• Michelin embeds a Michelin engineer with each of its technical partner teams. The relationships often extend beyond the race track to the street. For example:
• The Michelin tire engineer embedded with Corvette Racing, (Lee Willard) led the Michelin tire development team on the new Michelin tires that are exclusive on all of the new Corvette C7s.
• Bill Bostic, the Michelin engineer here with SRT Viper, is a test/development engineer at the Michelin Proving Grounds working on tires for future Chrysler vehicles.
• The award winning Michelin Pilot Super Sport and Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 Ultra High Performance tires both carry technologies developed by Michelin in endurance competition.
Bob Ulrich was named Modern Tire Dealer editor in August 2000. He joined the magazine in 1985 as assistant editor, and has been responsible for gathering statistical information for MTD's "Facts Issue" since 1993.