Michelin and its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship technical partner teams pulled out all the stops in an exciting battle at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Track temperatures peaked at 118-degrees Fahrenheit on a warm, sunny day under a picturesque, light blue sky at the season’s sole Canadian event.
Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe took their second win of the year in the GT Le Mans class, driving the No. 67 Ford GT for Chip Ganassi Racing. They become the first driver pairing to win for a second time this season in GTLM.
Using what Michelin North America’s Motorsport Director Chris Baker descibed as a “diabolically creative, perfectly executed strategy,” the CGR team parlayed pit strategy to its advantage. The Ford stayed on track while its competitors made their final pit stops, then ran deep into the final hour of the race to make a perfectly timed fuel and two-tire stop and emerge still in the class lead for the final 20 minutes of the two-hour, 40-minute race. Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen finished second, and teammates Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin followed just behind them in third.
Wide range of strategy, variety
"Our technical partner teams from BMW Team RLL, Corvette Racing, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing and Porsche GT Team combined to use all three of our Michelin optional compounds today as they had an incredbly wide range of race and tire strategies," said Ken Payne, technical director, motorsport, Michelin North America.
Seven of the eight Michelin GTLM class entries led at various times in the race. On Saturday, Porsche GT Team’s Nick Tandy scored the pole, and broke the previous GTLM class qualifying record by 0.568 of a second. The top five qualifiers all topped the previous GTLM mark.
"Here you are working to choose the right compound," said winner Richard Westbrook. "We found the Michelin compound that suited us and stuck to it. We had to put on used tires at the end because the of way the yellows fell. But we’re delighted the Michelin tires held on. It is tough on the car, tough on the tires around here, and they held up for us."
CTMP character remains intact
With undulations, elevation changes, and unforgiving off-camber, high commitment corners, the fast, flowing 2.54 mile, 10-turn circuit is considered one of the world’s most classic old school race circuits.
"Although the cars are quicker, the character of CTMP remains. If anything, it becomes even more challenging as the speeds increase," Payne said.
The next stop for the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship is the Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park, Conn., Saturday, July 21.