Michelin’s not so secret weapon
The month of May traditionally means travel, graduations, weddings, vacations, reunions and lots of racing. In the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, May marks the return to a fan favorite, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where Michelin technical partner teams have enjoyed great success, taking GT class wins in each of the past 14 consecutive years.
Michelin has one of the broadest and most comprehensive technology transfer programs in global motorsports. The success of that program, both in competition and in delivering innovations to the street, is based upon a powerful technical foundation designed to build on each race, car and circuit.
“Our engineers, chemists and support teams are the secret sauce in our success,” said Chris Baker, director of motorsports for Michelin North America. “The race tracks, rally courses and desert courses are all extensions of our testing labs and our engineers help us to extract every bit of knowledge and understanding of tire performance in an exceptionally wide range of vehicles and conditions.”
“The continuous stream of data and deep technical insights that we gain and the relationships that we develop with our technical partner teams in motorsports enable us to succeed in competition and to create the highest quality, most innovative tires for consumers,” said Baker.
To that end, Michelin sports car race engineers are busy this week both here in the TUDOR Championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and at the FIA World Endurance Championship race in Spa, Belgium. “Here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the elevation changes, variant of corners and even the sand on parts of the circuit are all factors that we learn from every year,” said Baker.
Last weekend, Michelin rally race engineers were in Argentina for the FIA World Rally Championship and yet another group will be in Monaco next week for the Formula E Championship. Meanwhile, Michelin is finalizing preparations for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where the Audi, Porsche, Toyota and Nissan hybrids are all Michelin technical partners as are the Corvette, Porsche, Ferrari and Aston Martin factory GT teams. Each team has embedded Michelin engineers to further their respective development programs.
And while all this is going on, Michelin is developing tires for the second half of the TUDOR Championship season, the upcoming Japanese Super GT championship and for the 2016 motorsports competition.
Michelin is also continuing testing for its return to FIM Moto GP competition in 2016.
The Michelin North America motorsports group also includes the BFGoodrich Tires brand in grassroots road racing/autocrossing, the Mazda MX-5 Cup, desert off-road racing in the SCORE International and Best in the Desert championships and off-road closed-course racing in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series.
Michelin believes that it is not a coincidence that its near 80 percent win rate in the top customer tire satisfaction surveys over the past 20 years is almost identical to its win rate in open motorsports competition.
Here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the Michelin engineers will be working with GT Le Mans (GTLM) class technical partners Corvette Racing, BMW Team RLL, Porsche North America and Risi Competizione Ferrari.