Michelin returns to historic Watkins Glen
The first TUDOR United SportsCar Championship series event at Watkins Glen International marks the first time that Michelin has raced in a major event at the storied circuit in nearly 15 years.
Michelin technical partner teams from Viper Team Oreca and Chamberlain Motorsport Viper swept the podium at the 1999 FIA GT Championship race at Watkins Glen in October 1999.
Competing in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class in the TUDOR Championship, Michelin will try to match that success as its 2014 technical partner teams from BMW Team RLL, Corvette Racing, Porsche North America, Risi Competizione Ferrari and Krohn Racing Ferrari and, ironically SRT Motorsports Viper.
The 3.37-mile, 11-turn circuit, with over 140 feet in elevation changes twice each lap, presents a number of technical challenges including long, fast straightaways ending in downhill cornering, uphill exits and a mix off high, medium and low speed corners and heavy braking zones.
“Our Michelin engineers and technical partner teams always look forward to the challenges of a new circuit, especially a legendary circuit like Watkins Glen,” said Ken Payne, motorsports technical director for Michelin North America.
“From a technical approach, extended tread life, consistent braking and cornering are critical. A six hour race also provides some opportunities to try different compounds and tire strategies,” said Payne. “Artistically, our tires are the paint that drivers and teams use to draw their lines for each corner and create their full canvas of the circuit.”
Michelin and its technical partners have all made use of various combinations of simulations and track tests in preparation for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen on Sunday, June 29.
“Simulations are extremely helpful and certainly get us pointed in the right direction, but there is no substitute for actual race miles to discover any changes in grip levels as the track evolves in race conditions to complete the picture,” said Payne.