Michelin is ready for Lime Rock
The names are Posey, Big Bend and Lefthander rather than Mulsanne, Tertre Rouge and Arnage, but for Michelin and its technical partner teams, the challenges at the Northeast Grand Prix at Connecticut’s Lime Rock Park are actually not all that different from those of Circuit de la Sarthe and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“The demands of each circuit are unique, but the ultimate objective is the same,” said Ken Payne, technical director of motorsports for Michelin North America. “The underlying challenge at every race is to help our technical partner teams maximize their performance.”
Here at Lime Rock Park for Saturday’s Northeast Grand Prix, the fourth stop of the 2013 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season, the technical demands of the 2-hour 45-minute race on the 1.5-mile circuit stand in sharp contrast to the recent 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 8.5-mile French circuit.
One lap at Le Mans takes between three and a half and four minutes, while at Lime Rock the top prototypes will be turning laps in the 45-second range.
“Here at Lime Rock, you don’t have the same top speeds, so you have more downforce and emphasis on mechanical grip,” said Payne. “Drivers are constantly in traffic here and everyone is very aggressive on every lap. For Michelin, that means helping our teams get the braking, turn in at corner entry and progressive power down on every lap. The smallest opening at a corner entry or running a fraction wide can set up a pass.”
The ALMS pit rules allow for quicker tire changes, so teams decide whether to double-stint and go for track position or go for fresh tires.
Michelin and its technical partner teams from Audi, Muscle Milk Pickett Honda (2), Level 5 Motorsports (2), Extreme Speed Motorsports, Corvette Racing (2) and BMW Team RLL have swept the victories in all three ALMS open-tire classes through the first three ALMS events.
Michelin claimed its 16th consecutive win at Le Mans on June 23, as Audi’s Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Loic Duval claimed the overall victory.