Paddock talk with Silvia Mammone
Silvia Mammone is the Michelin and BFGoodrich Motorsports Marketing Manager for North America. At the recent American Le Mans Series (ALMS) races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course MTD talked with Ms. Mammone about the marketing aspects of Michelin’s involvement in ALMS.
Michelin’s philosophy of open competition between tire makers in racing is in contrast to other large tire manufactures. In light of the trend for major racing series to prefer single-supplier control tires does this hinder Michelin’s participation in racing?
Mammone: Michelin prefers to race in open competition because it pushes the tire technology and it pushes us to be better. However, Michelin also recognizes that [the single supplier] type of racing is very important. Open competition, especially at very high levels, is what we prefer because of the high level technology. Something like Viper club racing, Porsche Club racing, a spec series also has it’s advantages too. It allows us to get close to that consumer, it allows us to develop and continue to develop a partnership with key manufacturers and we are still learning about tires and how tires behave. What us develop here in open competition, at the American Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eventually that knowledge gets transferred to those consumers. So they benefit from our participation in open competition at a high level competition when there is that transfer of technology down toward the club racer, an important customer of ours.
Is there equality in the tires and services partner teams receive from Michelin?
Mammone: Yes, that is one thing that we take very seriously in that we make sure that all the teams are treated equally. Each team has an engineer and the our latest technology, the perfect example of that is Viper this weekend. This is their first race here at Mid-Ohio, they are entering the ALMS GT class mid-season and are going to be using the Corvette tires. We didn’t develop the tires specifically for them but Viper is benefiting from the technology and all the work we have been doing for Corvette over the past few years. So they’re benefitting from our work with Corvette. Just because they are new and just coming in we are not depriving them or deciding that they don’t deserve the best. Michelin want our teams to perform we want them to do their best so we provide them with the best technology we have available, we are not going to waiver from that.
Are Corvette Racing aware of and OK with that?
Memmone: Yes. The tires belong to Michelin. It’s very simple, we have a great relationship with Corvette, that we have developed over the years, we have a great relationship with Viper. When Corvette joined they didn’t have a tire developed for them, they were using a Ferrari tire, so it’s a good way for us to learn from working with different manufacturers.
You mentioned the data that Michelin engineers record from their assigned teams, is that information shared among the Michelin engineers or are team secrets respected as private information?
Mammone: We respect the team strategy, we have an engineering meeting and each engineer will share what another engineer can learn from in terms of the tires but they will not share strategy such as which driver will start the race or when they intend to pit or what compounds the team is using. That is proprietary information that is not shared because it’s are part of the team’s strategy. Information regarding the tires, what the engineers are seeing in their performance, that is shared because it could affect the other participants in that class and they need to be aware of those concerns.
MTD will pursue this conversation with Ms. Mammone this week, so stay tuned!