Challenges galore for Michelin at upcoming ALMS race

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Fresh from an unprecedented 13th consecutive overall race victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Michelin and its technical partner teams return to stateside competition in the fourth stop of the 2010 American Le Mans Series season, the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix, July 11, at the Miller Motorsports Park.

Karl Koenigstein, Michelin ALMS technical team leader, sees four challenges for Michelin at the 3.048-mile, 15-turn perimeter circuit as Michelin tries to remain undefeated in 2010 ALMS competition.  

“The perimeter circuit at Miller presents some technical challenges in terms of establishing a nice balance on the car and in terms of tire life,” said Koenigstein.

“Sand is not a good thing for hot, sticky race tires,” said Koenigstein  “and the entire track is surrounded by sand. The desert sand can be dragged onto the track as cars drop wheels off, have off-track excursions or the wind can blow sand onto the track.”

While the preliminary weather forecasts suggests a comparatively mild stretch with temperatures in the mid-to high 80 degree range, Michelin is prepared for heat and higher track temperatures. “The hotter it gets, the greater the difficulty to maintain performance throughout an entire stint (fuel load-usually approximately one hour). Typically higher track temperatures increases wear, so we will work closely with our teams on selecting the right tire for the track conditions."

It is the fourth factor in Koenigstein’s technical crystal ball, the nearly mile high elevation of the circuit, that may provide the greatest challenge for Michelin and its technical partner teams. “The air is thinner, so it is harder for engines to breathe, harder to keep engines, brakes and tires cool."

"The elevation provides a big advantage for the turbocharged cars, and Michelin is not partnered with any turbocharged cars here,” said Koenigstein. “The turbochargers pack more air into the engine and help compensate for the thinner air. Our Prototype teams and drivers will need to be on the top of their game to make up for the difference in power.”

Leading the Michelin prototype entries are the naturally aspirated HPD ARX-01c of Patrón Highcroft Racing; Drayson Racing Lola Coupe; and Muscle Milk Team CytoSport Porsche RS Spyder. They will face a trio of turbo charged Prototype entries from Intersport, Dyson Mazda and Autocon Motorsports.

Michelin technical partner GT class entrants include: Corvette Racing; Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche; Risi Competizione Ferrari and Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari.

Making their Miller Motorsports Park debut are six identical new LMP-Challenge class Prototypes from Genoa Racing; PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports, Level 5 Motorsports and Intersport Racing. The Chevrolet LS3 powered cars are all equipped with identical, non-proprietary Michelin customer tires.

The two-hour 45-minute race will be broadcast live on SPEEDTV, July 11 at 4:30 p.m. ET.
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