Michelin wide-tires fitted for Acura at Mid-Ohio

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A pair of radically designed Acura prototypes will lead the Michelin technical partner teams to the Acura Sports Car Challenge at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the sixth stop on the 2009 American Le Mans Series schedule, August 7-8.

Designed to provide greater cornering power, braking and extended tire wear with the maximum width Michelin tires permitted under the ALMS rules, the two Acura LMP1 class prototypes use wide tires on both the front and rear wheels. The combination increases the contact patch for the front tires by approximately seven percent and is especially effective on medium- and high-speed corners.

The Michelin wide tire Acura combination has produced victories in four of the first five races of the season. Michelin technical partner teams have taken the victories in all five ALMS events to date and won the recent 24 Hours of Le Mans for an unprecedented 12th consecutive year.

The Patrón Highcroft Acura driven by David Brabham and Scott Sharp holds a narrow ALMS championship lead over the rival XM Radio de Ferran Motorsports Acura prototype of Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud, winners of the last three consecutive ALMS events.

“The new Acuras are the first modern prototypes to knowingly sacrifice some aerodynamic efficiencies to optimize mechanical grip.” said Karl Koenigstein, Michelin ALMS technical team leader. “Michelin races to learn and we are learning a lot this year with this new concept. We expect that the Acura prototypes should be especially well suited to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.”

One of the most demanding and technically challenging tracks in the ALMS, Mid-Ohio presents a mix of 13 high- and low-speed turns combined with elevation changes making the 2.25-mile circuit a tough test for drivers and tires.

Despite its challenges, or perhaps precisely because of them, Mid-Ohio is a favorite track for Michelin and many of its technical partner teams.  Thirteen of the 22 ALMS entries have chosen Michelin as their technical partner.

In addition to the LMP1 class Acura prototypes; Michelin is the technical partner of choice for the LMP2 class Lowe’s Fernandez Acura, a pair of Lola Mazda prototypes entered by Dyson Racing and the returning Porsche RS Spyder, now from Cytosport Racing.

Making their highly anticipated GT2 class debut is a pair of new entries from Corvette Racing. They will join as Michelin technical partners, the championship leading Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsches, GT2 winners of the last four races, the 2008 and 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans GT2 class winning Risi Competizione Ferrari and the Porsches of Farnbacher Loles and VICI Racing.  

Illustrating the performance in the ALMS, Gil de Ferran’s ALMS pole run at Mid-Ohio last year aboard an LMP2 class prototype virtually matched the top Indycar time of the day. Although the less powerful ALMS LMP2 class prototypes are approximately 20-25 mph slower on the straight-aways than Indycars, de Ferran cited three factors for the surprising lap speeds: greater downforce, ceramic brakes, and Michelin tires. New rules for 2009 have since slowed the LMP2 prototypes.

De Ferran has already predicted that the new Acura ALMS LMP1 prototypes will match the top Indycar times of the day when ALMS qualifying ends on Friday afternoon.  The race is the home event for several thousand Honda and Acura associates from nearby Marysville, Ohio.

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