Located 180 feet above the paddock, the famed Corkscrew section at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca provides a grand view of the downhill run and perhaps to the final stages of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship battle.
The Michelin GT Le Mans class technical partner factory teams from BMW, Corvette, Ford and Porsche and independent Risi Competizione Ferrari won’t have time to enjoy the view.
Pointed at the sky
“Drivers arrive at the entry to The Corkscrew in fifth gear at 130 miles per hour and pointing at the sky,” said Chris Baker, director of motorsports, Michelin North America.
“Traffic is usually stacking up and the drivers must be very precise in car placement and spot-on in braking to set up for the downhill run.
“The entry to The Corkscrew is a totally blind 90-degree left hand turn with a dramatic drop in elevation then an immediate sweep to the right.
“For a driver to be quick through the Corkscrew requires trust and confidence and Michelin recognizes that the performance and consistency of our tires plays a major role in driver confidence.”
Ironically, the slow, final turn (11) at the bottom of the hill that leads onto the front straightaway is every bit as critical as managing The Corkscrew.
“Putting power down and getting a good launch coming onto the front straightaway is critical to either fend off or set up a pass in turns two and three,” said Baker.
With a low grip track surface and sand being dragged or blown by winds unto the 2.238-mile circuit, the grip level quickly changes.
Michelin teams are expected to use both the Michelin “medium” and “soft” tire compounds, sometimes in combination.
Returned to its more favorable fall date, Sunday’s two-hour 40-minute race (FOX Sports1 at 5:00 pm EDT) is the penultimate round of the 2017 WeatherTech Championship with drivers and teams fighting for every point and position.
Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia (274 points) currently lead the WeatherTech GTLM driver and team standings trailed by BMW Team RLL’s Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims (258).
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand (257) and the defending Monterey GTLM champions Ford CGR of teammates Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook (257) are just a single point further back.
Chevrolet leads the GTLM Manufacturers Championship by just two points (288-286) over Ford.