Michelin helps teams beat the heat at Lone Star Le Mans
BMW Team RLL and drivers Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner had the speed, a perfect fuel strategy and the right choice of Michelin tire solutions to take the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class victory at the Lone Star Le Mans TUDOR Championship race today at Circuit of The Americas.
The race-leading Porsches of pole winners Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy and teammates Joerg Bergmeister and Earl Bamber both pitted for fuel with just three minutes remaining in the two-hour 40-minute race. The final 61 minutes of the race were caution-free after the last round of pit stops.
“We ran the warmer temperature range Michelin tires—which the Michelin guys call ‘medium high-temp’--and we knew that we would be stronger over the long run," said Auberlen. "Sure enough, three quarters of the way through my stint the Porsches started coming back to me, but then we had a caution.
“On the pit stop that followed, our BMW Team RLL engineers immediately went to a 'fuel, fuel, fuel' strategy," Auberlen added. "Dirk did a great job running a strong pace, saving fuel and keeping the pressure on and we just made it. The fuel pressure light came on during the final lap."
Switching to the “medium high-temp” Michelin tires for the last stint, the Houston-based Risi Competizone Ferrari of Giancarlo Fisichella and Pierre Kaffer closed to within two seconds of the BMW at the finish to take second place. Tandy recovered to place third and complete a Michelin podium sweep. The GTLM class is the only TUDOR Championship class permitting open tire competition.
The BMW victory ended a four-race winning streak for Porsche; the last three in favor of Pilet and Tandy.
With direct sunshine and high humidity the track temperatures reached 110 degrees on a steamy, 95-degree Texas Saturday afternoon.
“It was a scorcher here at the Lone Star Le Mans,” said Michelin North America’s Motorsports Director Chris Baker. “We knew that some of our partners look at using our ‘medium high-temp’ solution—rarely used during the TUDOR Championship season—and were delighted with the tires’ performance. Congratulations to BMW Team RLL for taking the win.”
The penultimate race of the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship tightened the GTLM class championship battles as Auberlen and Werner closed to within three points of Pilet in the driver standings with only the ten-hour Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on October 3 remaining.