Michelin and its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship technical partner teams from BMW, Chevrolet Corvette, Ford, and Porsche head to Canada for the midpoint of the 2018 season at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, July 6-8, where a classic "old school" circuit will fully test new school technology.
The CTMP 'word cloud'
Ken Payne, technical director of motorsport, Michelin North America, uses a word cloud to describe the venerable 2.54-mile circuit near Bowmanville, Ontario. "We use terms like historic, fast, bumpy, challenging, precise, high speed corners, and unforgiving to describe CTMP," Payne said. "Though a bit shorter, it is similar to Watkins Glen (3.4 miles) where we just raced this past weekend in that CTMP circuit is historic, very fast, flowing, has notable elevation changes and penalizes mistakes."
Different challenges ahead
While CTMP is unlikely to approach the extreme track temperatures found at Watkins Glen, which reached a torrid peak track temperature of 140-degrees Fahrenheit (60C) this past weekend, the Canadian circuit presents its own unique technical challenges rarely found in newer, more modern circuit designs. "CTMP features two high speed corners connected to elevation changes that require a big commitment from drivers. They can’t be tentative at the corner entry. From a Michelin standpoint, it is important that our tires provide the GTLM factory drivers with the confidence to make those commitments lap after lap," Payne said.
One of the keys to delivering that confidence means that the rear of the car needs to be stable or "pinned," not sliding or creating oversteer conditions at corner entry. Finding the right balance as the car makes those transitions in elevation while turning is essential. Michelin embeds a tire engineer with each of the four GTLM teams to help to optimize tire performance and the selection and combination of the three Michelin GTLM class tire options.
Six different GTLM driver pairs are within just 10 points heading to CTMP and the mid-way point of the 11-race WeatherTech GTLM season. There have been five different winning driver pairs and five different pole winners in the first five GTLM races. Fresh from their victory at Watkins Glen, Ford’s Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller lead the driver standing by a single point (147-146) over Ford Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook. Corvette Racing’s defending WeatherTech GTLM champions Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen are just three points further back, with 143 points. Porsche GT Team’s Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor stand fourth at 142 points. Their Porsche teammates Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet are fifth with 138 points and the 2016 GTLM champions Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner are sixth with 137 points. With two wins each, Ford (Daytona, Watkins Glen) leads the Manufacturer's championship by four points (160-156) over Porsche (Sebring, Mid-Ohio), with Corvette (Long Beach) at 155 and BMW at 148 points.
"The GTLM competition is so intense, we are all running qualifying laps for the entire race," Hand said. BMW Team RLL has already claimed class poles and set fastest race laps in the inaugural season with the new BMW M8 GTE. All four of the factory backed two-car GTLM teams have chosen Michelin as their respective technical partner in the only IMSA class permitting open tire competition. The two-hour 40-minute Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at CTMP on Sunday (July 8) will air on FS1 on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.