Teams need Michelin to overcome rule disadvantage

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With top speeds approaching 200 miles per hour and an average lap speed topping 136 miles per hour, the 4.048-mile Road America circuit, site of the August 22 American Le Mans Series powered by eStar is the longest track of the ALMS season.

Technical rules for the 2010 ALMS combined Prototype classes limit the straightaway performance of some of the Michelin technical partner teams, particularly the defending series champions Highcroft HPD Racing.  The Highcroft car was nearly 30 miles per hour slower than some Prototype competitors at the next longest circuit at Salt Lake City, but persevered to win the race.  

Michelin technical partner teams will be looking to Michelin to provide the right tires to overcome that straight-line speed. "Overcoming such an enormous disadvantage in straight-line speed means that the teams need every fraction of a second that we can provide in braking, cornering power, and acceleration," said Michelin ALMS technical team leader Karl Koenigstein.

"We can also help our Michelin technical partner teams by providing consistency lap after lap and the extended wear or longevity to open up the possibility for double-stinting tires," said Koenigstein. "The elevation changes at Road America exaggerate the transitions and balance of the car, so it is a big challenge to find the right combination."

Due to the predominance of right-hand turns at Road America, Michelin race engineers sometime suggest a 'split' tire selection using different combinations of harder and softer compound Michelin tires on different wheel positions to maximize performance.  

Actually, the Michelin response may be found in the number three, as Michelin tire engineers and technical partner teams may choose set ups using three different Michelin options to provide the cornering, power and longevity they need.

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