Michelin welcomes Texas-sized challenges
Successful racers welcome new challenges, and Michelin is ready for plenty of them when the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and the FIA World Endurance Championship make their first ever stops at the demanding new Circuit of The Americas (COTA) September 21 and 22 in a first ever doubleheader weekend.
“Racing at a new circuit for the first time gives us a great opportunity to learn, and it puts a premium on our ability to work closely with our technical partner teams to discover the nuances of the circuit and gain data from each car and each session,” said Chris Baker, motorsports director for Michelin North America. “We also have the unique opportunity to collaborate with our Michelin colleagues from Europe to compare our results from the ALMS sessions and the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) sessions, helping us to acquire data and performance insights for both.”
Since its debut in 2012, the Circuit of The Americas near Austin, Texas has generated outstanding reviews from competitors and fans alike. Unlike many circuits created in recent years, COTA features 133 feet of elevation changes. Saturday’s 2-hour, 45-minute ALMS race will be followed by Sunday’s 6-hour FIA WEC event. COTA is the only FIA-certified Grade 1 circuit in the U.S.
“The track is fast and very precise,” said Ken Payne, motorsports technical director for Michelin North America. “Each successive corner compounds any performance issues; if you are a little bit off line at the exit of a turn, you will pay the price at the next turn or the turn after. The challenge for Michelin is to provide our technical partner teams with tires that deliver very precise turn in, braking, power down and consistency over extended runs,” said Payne.
With five tire makers represented in the 34 car ALMS field, Michelin is the technical partner for 15 of the 18 open tire class entries. Michelin technical partners include Muscle Milk Pickett Racing Honda, Dyson Racing Mazda, Level 5 Motorsports Honda and Extreme Speed Motorsports Honda Prototypes. Michelin is also the technical partner for Corvette Racing, BMW Team RLL, SRT Viper, Risi Competizione Ferrari and the Porsches from Paul Miller Racing and CORE autosport.
• Michelin and its technical partner teams have taken the overall victory in all seven ALMS events this season and have captured the P2 and GT class wins at each venue.
• Circuit of The Americas becomes the 26th venue in ALMS history. Michelin has taken overall race wins and GT class wins at all of the previous venues.
In the international FIA WEC series, Michelin is the technical partner for the Audi Sport, Toyota Hybrid, Rebellion Toyota and PECOM Nissan Prototypes and the AF Corse Ferrari, Porsche AG Team Manthey and Aston Martin Racing teams as well as a number of the GTE AM class competitors. Audi Sport and Porsche AG were the winners at the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“Our goal is to help each of our technical partners choose the Michelin tire constructions and compounds to optimize their performance,” said Payne. “The entire weekend will be a great opportunity to learn about the performance of our tires at a major new circuit and hopefully to demonstrate the advantages that our technology provides.”