Michelin announces ALMS technical partners in GT class

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Michelin today announced its 2011 lineup of GT category technical partner teams for the American Le Mans Series, adding a pair of Ford GTs from Robertson Racing and an exotic new Panoz Abruzzi. Continuing their long relationship with Michelin are the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche, Risi Competizione Ferrari and Corvette Racing teams. Also continuing with Michelin after a highly successful inaugural season in 2010 is the Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari team headed by former ALMS prototype champion Scott Sharp. Each is a leader for their respective factory efforts in ALMS.

“The ALMS GT category is considered to be the most competitive category in international motorsports today,” said Silvia Mammone, Michelin Motorsports manager. “We are pleased to have all of our 2010 ALMS technical partner teams continue with Michelin and we look forward to working with the Robertson and Panoz  teams and welcoming their fans and friends to the Michelin ALMS family.”

Based in Sonoma, Calif., the Flying Lizard Porsche team is a two-time ALMS GT class champion. The team claimed four wins in 2010 ALMS competition as drivers Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long claimed their second consecutive ALMS driver championships. The Flying Lizard team also claimed the Michelin Green X Challenge season championship for the second consecutive year.

Risi Competizione Ferrari scored three ALMS race wins in 2010, including the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The Houston-based squad has two wins each at Sebring, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Road Atlanta’s Petit Le Mans in the past three seasons. The team will debut the new Ferrari F458 in 2011.An eight-time GT1 class champion in ALMS and six-time winner at Le Mans, the New Hudson, Michigan-based  Corvette Racing team competed its first full season in the GT class in 2010, taking the victory in the season ending Petit Le Mans.
Building on a successful inaugural GT season in 2010 is the Stuart, Florida-based Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari team headed by former ALMS prototype champion Scott Sharp.  Extreme Speed posted a pair of front-row starts and a second place finish at Petit Le Mans in its first GT season.

“Michelin places a tire engineer with each of our technical partner race teams,” said Karl Koenigstein, Michelin ALMS technical team leader.  “We do that to provide a constant source of fresh data, insights and understanding of the performance of our tires in the extremes of competition and provide our partners with exceptional levels of feedback and support.”

“Our long and highly successful connections with Porsche, Ferrari and Corvette help us understand the different needs of rear-, mid-, and front-engine cars all running in the same class. Now, by adding diverse cars like the Robertson Racing Ford GTs and the Panoz Abruzzi we can capture an even broader range of data and experience to help us develop future tires for the street as well as race tires,” said Koenigstein.

“Everyone at Robertson Racing is delighted to be working with Michelin during the upcoming ALMS season,” said Andrew ‘H’ Smith, Team Manager of the Braselton, GA-based Robertson Racing. “Their continued success in motorsport around the world, particularly in the GT and sportscar arena, ensures that we could not be working with a more accomplished tire technical partner for the unique rigours and challenges presented by endurance racing. I am certain that it won’t be long before we start seeing the mutual benefits of this exciting new partnership as we step up our program in 2011, which includes a potential Le Mans 24 Hours entry. Naturally we cannot wait to begin developing this exciting collaboration, one which will see the iconic Ford GT race on Michelin tires for the first time in American Le Mans Series history.”

Michelin has 105 wins in GT class competition, including 17 of 19 over the past two ALMS seasons. In addition, Michelin has won the ALMS GT Tire Championship for 11 consecutive years.  
Michelin is expected to announce its ALMS prototype technical partner teams and Le Mans Prototype Challenge entries next week. Michelin and its technical partner teams will begin the 2011 American Le Mans Series season at the Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 19.

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