Michelin and its technical partner teams face a “total challenge” at the next stop on the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, Road America, in Elkhart Lake, Wis.
The four-mile long 14-turn natural terrain circuit, dubbed America’s National Park of Speed, presents a complete range of challenges for drivers, teams and especially tires. “The secret to success at Road America is simply to do everything really well,” said Ken Payne, technical director for Michelin North America. “At Michelin we call that ‘Total Performance’.”
“We frequently talk about the links between motorsports and consumers and in many ways, Road America is very much like many Michelin performance tire consumers, wanting a tire that does everything well” said Payne.
The circuit at Road America is very high speed and demands a well-balanced race car with exceptional levels of grip for consistent braking, corner entry and maximum cornering power throughout an entire stint (50-60 minutes). “Balanced handling with exceptional grip, braking, cornering plus extended tread wear is all tied to our tread compounds,” said Payne.
Being fast on the long straightaways means providing a high level of mechanical grip to enable teams to reduce the level of downforce on the car.
“Then, in addition to the speeds and cornering, you need to put the power down on exit,” said Payne. “There are heavy braking zones, including some uphill and downhill braking, which means tire sidewall compression and that requires robust construction.”
Michelin is the technical partner of choice for the factory based pairs from BMW Team RLL, Corvette Racing, Dodge Viper SRT and Porsche North America as well as the factory linked independent Risi Competizione Ferrari. The GT Le Mans class is the only class in the series permitting open tire competition.
SEASON TO DATE
In a different sense, “Michelin Total Performance” also means providing each Michelin technical partner with tires that fully enable the performance of their respective cars in the fiercely competitive GTLM class.
Through the first seven races, 13 different Michelin GTLM drivers have claimed either a pole or set the fastest race lap. At Indianapolis, Giancarlo Fisichella of Risi Competizione Ferrari became the only driver to deliver both. All five Michelin technical partner teams have claimed at least two podium finishes plus both a pole and a fastest race lap in the first seven races.
• Michelin technical partners Dodge Viper SRT, Porsche North America, Corvette Racing, BMW Team RLL and Risi Competizione Ferrari have each won a pole. (Corvette and Viper each have two).
• Meanwhile, Porsche North America, Corvette Racing, BMW Team RLL, Risi Competizione Ferrari and Dodge Viper SRT have each set a fastest race lap. (Risi Competizione Ferrari and Corvette Racing each have two).
• Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen have combined for four GTLM race wins aboard the #3 Corvette and currently lead the TUDOR Championship in GTLM. Each has won a pole but despite their four wins, neither has set a fastest race lap in the first seven races.
• Conversely, Corvette Racing teammates Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner in the #4 Corvette have each set a fastest race lap, but they have just one podium, a third place at Long Beach.
• The Risi Competizione Ferrari team has set the fastest race lap (Kaffer-Watkins Glen and Fisichella at Indianapolis) in two of the last three races and won the pole at Indianapolis.
Through the first seven TUDOR Championship GT Le Mans races of the season, Michelin technical partner teams have captured all seven class wins with Porsche North America (Daytona and Sebring), Corvette Racing (Long Beach, Monterey, Watkins Glen and Canada) and Dodge Viper SRT (Indianapolis) and claimed all 21 possible podium positions.