Michelin takes total performance to the ALMS Baltimore Sports Car Challenge
Michelin takes to the streets for the Grand Prix of Baltimore, September 1, with both the Michelin street soft and tall tire technologies that helped its technical partner teams to victories at the only other street race of the season, the Long Beach Grand Prix.
Michelin technical partners also lead the premier American Le Mans Series LMP1 Prototype and GT class championships.
When Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf took their Muscle Milk Pickett Racing Honda prototype to a convincing victory in the Long Beach Grand Prix in April, they ended the race winner’s press conference by revealing their secret: New Michelin street soft compounded tires designed to optimize grip and cornering on the temporary circuit.
While the Michelin street soft tires are no longer a secret, they will be a cornerstone for the Muscle Milk Honda strategy at the Grand Prix of Baltimore. The team followed its victory at Long Beach with an impressive performance at Monterey, where they double-stinted the street soft tires, changing tires on just two of five pit stops in a six-hour race.
“We seem to have a found the sweet spot for total performance with the Michelin street soft tires and the Muscle Milk HPD/Honda package,” said Silvia Mammone, Michelin motorsports manager. “Providing both the extra grip and the extended tread life to permit double-stints gives the team a wider range of set-ups and options.”
Heading into Baltimore, the Muscle Milk HPD Honda/Michelin combination has five wins in the first seven ALMS races and is the ALMS championship leader.
Meanwhile, Michelin GT technical partners enjoyed tall-tire success at Long Beach as Corvette Racing drivers Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin took the GT victory and Michelin teams took four of the top five GT positions. The Corvette Racing co-drivers also backed up with another win at Monterey. They currently lead Corvette Racing teammates Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia in the ALMS GT championship.
The new tall Michelin front tire, for GT technical partners, has enabled Corvette Racing to take three wins, while the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche of Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister and the Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari of Johannes van Overbeek and Scott Sharp each have one win to date. The new SRT Viper factory team has also recently joined the Michelin technical partner ranks.
The new Michelin GT front tire is 1.2 inches (3cm) taller than its predecessor and provides a slightly longer contact patch to provide enhanced barking, turn-in, extended tread life and a wider range for set-up options.
Sixteen ALMS events have been held on street circuits, and Michelin enters Baltimore with 15 overall race victories in those events. Michelin has all the victories at every other street circuit including Adelaide, Miami, Washington D.C., Houston, Detroit, St. Petersburg and Long Beach. The only exception is last year’s inaugural Baltimore event, when the sole Michelin prototype encountered a mechanical issue and lost several laps with an extended pit stop.
“We very much want to add Baltimore to our Michelin win list,” said Mammone.