Michelin celebrates 100th ALMS win
The 100th Michelin overall race victory in the American Le Mans Series was delivered in a powerful performance by the young de Ferran Motorsports Acura team and drivers Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud here at the Utah Grand Prix, just the 103rd event in series history.
Leading all but two of the 103 laps of the 3.048-mile circuit at Miller Motorsports Park, the de Ferran pair’s Acura prototype dominated the event from start to finish to score their second consecutive victory by a whopping margin of 73.693 seconds in the caution free race. The team also celebrated its first anniversary at the track where they made their debut last May.
“The car was brilliant, one of the best cars I have ever driven,” said de Ferran, a former Indy 500 winner and Indycar series champion. “We could have double-stinted our Michelin tires, but we had such a nice lead that there was no need for it.”
“This new Acura prototype is a very new concept, with large Michelin tires on the front and rear,” said de Ferran. “We are on a steep learning curve. We are getting a better understanding of what is happening when we make changes. Even when we try something that does not work it is becoming clearer what we need to do. We made two changes Saturday and one yesterday, they were three good decisions. We hit the nail right on the head.”
Finishing second was the Acura of Patrón Highcroft Acura of Scott Sharp and David Brabham, followed by the P2 class winning Lowe’s Fernandez Acura of Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz who emerged victorious by less than a second in a strategic battle with the fleet Dyson Mazda Lolas.
“Securing the 100th win in the series for Michelin is a reflection of the tremendous talent and efforts that our manufacturers, technical partner teams, drivers, engineers and our Michelin technical centers and engineers have brought into the series,” said Silvia Mammone, Michelin motorsports manager.
Michelin also enjoyed great success in the GT category, sweeping the podium with the Flying Lizard Porsche of Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long taking the victory ahead of the Farnbacher Loles Porsche of Wolf Henzler and Marc Leib. In an impressive comeback, the Risi Competizione Ferrari of Jaime Melo and Pierre Kaffer fought back after being spun at the start and dropping two laps behind to claim third place in the GT2 class. All three teams will compete at the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans where they will be joined by a number of Michelin technical partner teams, including the Audi, Peugeot and Corvette teams that all competed at the Twelve Hours of Sebring.
“We wish good luck to all of our Michelin teams and drivers competing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” said Mammone. Michelin has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the last 11 consecutive years.
In the last month, Pagenaud, who turns 25 on Monday, has scored poles and wins with de Ferran Acura at the Long Beach and Utah events sandwiched a around a pole and race win at Spa, Belgium in his first race aboard the Le Mans bound Peugeot prototype, also a Michelin technical partner team. “Simon has quickly grown from a promising young driver into one of the best sport scar drivers in the world,” said de Ferran.