‘Racing is our university’
As Pierre Dupasquier, Group Michelin director of competition, regaled us with stories of Michelin’s racing involvement stretching over a period about as long as the history of the automobile, it was evident that his “university” had a grand tradition for technical progress along with the laurels of victory. To Group Michelin’s credit, that includes World Championships in Formula One, World Rally competition, MotoGp and LeMans.
Mr. Dupasquier likened motorsports to a set of tools used by manufacturers to solve problems relating to every aspect of a tire’s construction and performance. He described the passion to succeed in motorsports as a great motivation, compelling one to always strive to improve tire technology and increase knowledge about how tires work in all sorts of environments.
Michelin invited Modern Tire Dealer to the Circuit de Catalunya, home of the Spanish Grand Prix near Barcelona, Spain, to experience firsthand its passion for motorsports and the intrinsic relationship between the engineering challenges of competition and the technology of mass-production tires.
“We’ve taken a great deal of technology, resources and experience from our motorsports programs for these new tire lines,” said Sheryl Henderson, Michelin brand director for Michelin North America Inc. “We started with the philosophy of the tire, especially for the new Michelin Pilot Sport PS2. The weight, belt package and belt compliance are based on racing experience, as are the sidewall stiffness and traction.”
Indeed, the spec sheet for the new tire read like a graduate degree from the “university” Mr. Dupasquier had told us about. But the proof of all this technology transfer was best experienced by driving high performance BMW M3s, Chrysler Crossfires and Audi TTs equipped with the PS2. The safety of the circuit allows high speeds and aggressive maneuvering in wet and dry conditions that one wouldn’t prudently employ on public highways.
It was very satisfying to experience, and underscored the lasting benefits of a passion for motorsports.