Michelin readies for hot track an hot competition at VIR
Some of the hottest competition in international motorsports heads to Virginia International Raceway (VIR) as Michelin and its technical partner teams from BMW Team RLL, Corvette Racing, Porsche North America and Risi Competizione Ferrari prepare to take center stage at the Oak Tree Grand Prix at VIR.
With TUDOR United SportsCar Championship battles in full roar, the competition will be both literally and figuratively hot at VIR, where the 2014 race was determined in favor of Risi Ferrari’s Giancarlo Fisichella by a bold late pass under braking on the final lap.
The combination of Virginia sunshine and a fresh track surface of the 3.27 mile, 17 turn circuit, repaved in 2014, means Michelin engineers expect track temperatures to run 10 to 15 degrees higher than at Road America.
“Our teams will be prepared for the higher track temperatures,” said Ken Payne, motorsports technical director for Michelin North America.
“A fresh track surface absorbs more heat from direct sunshine and the materials used in the paving process provide microscopic edges for tires to grip,” said Payne. “That can accelerate tire wear and if the track surface gets really hot, it can make the track increasingly slick.”
“We are confident that our three medium compound tire options which are designated as medium/cool, medium/medium and medium/warm for corresponding track temperatures will provide our technical partners with appropriate solutions for the heat and track grip levels,” said Payne.
Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia hold a slender four point lead in the TUDOR Championship GTLM driver and team standings over BMW Team RLL’s Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner with Porsche’s Patrick Pilet, winner of the last two races with co-driver Nick Tandy, only a single point further back. Porsche leads the Manufacturers’ championship by three points over BMW with Chevrolet just four points further back. All are Michelin technical partners.
Early forecasts predict ambient temperatures in the low 90s and Michelin engineers expect track surface temperatures to reach the 105-115 degree range.
The new Michelin ‘single stint’ tire which helped break the GTLM class qualifying lap record by 1.4 seconds and the race lap record by nearly 2.5 seconds at Road America will not be one of the Michelin options for VIR or the next event at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.
“The temperatures at VIR and COTA are just too hot for the first generation of our single stint tires,” said Payne. “We will consider using them again at Road Atlanta depending on the forecasts as we get closer to that event.”
The Oak Tree Grand Prix at VIR will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1 at 1:00 p.m. (ET), Sunday, August 23. Continuing coverage, notes and photos will be available throughout the race weekend at www.michelinalley.com and @michelinalley.