Michelin made a highly successful return to the Rolex 24 At Daytona and helped kick off a new era in North American motorsports with an impressive GT Le Mans (GTLM) class victory at this weekend’s launch of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship.
The Porsche 911 RSR fielded by the recently created Porsche North America team and driven by Richard Lietz, Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet claimed the GTLM class victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The win, the 76th for Porsche at Daytona, backs up the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours GT victory by the new Porsche 911 RSR.
“Michelin successfully faced a number of challenges in returning to Daytona International Speedway for the first time in 13 years and did so with technical partners that had never raced their current cars here,” said Ken Payne, technical director motorsports, Michelin North America.
“It is a compliment to the teams and our Michelin engineers and developers that our technical partner teams from Aston Martin, BMW Team RLL, Corvette Racing, Risi Competizione Ferrari, Porsche North America and SRT Viper experienced good tire performance and reliability and were able to lap within a very tight range,” said Payne. “We leave here feeling very tired and glad to be back at Daytona.”
Michelin was chosen by all 11 entries competing in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class, the only class in the new series offering open tire competition.
The Michelin technical partners included all six auto manufacturers and the five factory teams: Aston Martin, BMW, Corvette, Porsche and SRT Viper entered.
Finishing second in GTLM was the BMW Z4 of BMW Team RLL driven by Bill Auberlen, Andy Priaulx, Joey Hand and Maxime Martin.
Finishing third after qualifying on the class pole and leading the early stages of the 24 Hour race was the SRT Viper of Marc Goossens, Dominik Farnbacher and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
The series is the result of the merger of the former American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and the GRAND-AM Rolex Series.
The race was won by Sebastian Bourdais, Joao Barbosa, and Christian Fittipaldi in the Action Express Corvette DP prototype.
Recognizing Hidden Heroes:
While drivers and team principals typically gain the glory, 24 members of the GTLM winning Porsche North America team will enjoy a special reward. Each will receive a set of Michelin passenger car or light truck tires for their personal vehicle.
Prior to the event, Chris Baker, director of motorsports for Michelin North America, presented crystal Michelin Man statues to series co-founders Jim France, Dr. Don Panoz, and International Motor Sports Association President Scott Atherton and CEO Ed Bennett to recognize their passion, commitment and leadership in overcoming all obstacles to unify sports car racing in North America with the new series.
“We gained a lot of valuable data and insights here this week and we look forward to the next round of the TUDOR Championship at Sebring, Fla, on March 15,” said Payne.
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.