Michelin rolled out a powerful array of new technologies in 2012 to deliver outstanding success to its technical partners in 2012 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and FIA World Endurance (WEC) championship competition.
“Developing such a wide range of technologies in motorsports, including radically sized tires and special constructions and tire compound, is important for the development of future production vehicles and consumer needs for increased efficiency, performance and the environment,” said Mammone. “Michelin races to learn and we race to win, and in 2012 we achieved both goals.”
PROTOTYPES – AUDI / TOYOTA / HONDA WIN WITH MICHELIN
While Audi and Toyota relied on the latest MICHELIN® ultra-wide tire technology for victories at the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours (Audi) and every round of the 2012 WEC (Audi 5 – Toyota 3) for their revolutionary hybrid LMP1 prototypes, a new street soft conventionally sized front tire was the key to the 2012 ALMS P1 championship for the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing Honda prototype.
“From a tire development standpoint, the technical demands for the Audi R18 e-tron quattro-turbo-diesel–flywheel hybrid prototype and the Toyota TS030 gasoline powered-ultra capacitor hybrid present new challenges that expand our understanding of how tires perform at the extremes,” said Karl Koenigstein, Michelin North America motorsports technical team leader.
Meanwhile the street soft tires designed for the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing Honda prototype, the sole Michelin full-season P1 entry, delivered both exceptional grip and extended tread life in ALMS competition. The Benicia, Calif.-based team used the MICHELIN® street soft tires on a wide range of circuits and in all six of its overall ALMS race wins. The ALMS championship was the 12th tire championship in 13 years for Michelin in ALMS P1 competition.
Both the Audi and Toyota P1 prototypes also took advantage of an exotic new “hybrid slick” tire developed by Michelin for damp and drying track conditions. The tire has no grooves or sipes, but achieves optimum performance in light or intermediate wet conditions through its unique construction and compounding.
In addition to the Audi, Toyota and Muscle Milk Honda success, the Michelin-fitted Rebellion Racing Lola B12/60 Coupe-Toyota captured the WEC privateer P1 championship and the overall race victory at the ALMS season ending Petit Le Mans.
GT – MICHELIN® TALL TIRES DELIVER FOR CORVETTE, FERRARI, PORSCHE
While rivals scrambled, offering as many as eight different dry tire options for a single team, Michelin and its technical partners from Corvette Racing (4), Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari (2) and Flying Lizard Porsche (1) relied on a new MICHELIN® tall front GT tire to claim seven victories in 2012 ALMS competition and the GTE Pro and AM wins at Le Mans and in the WEC for the AF Corse Ferrari squad and Larbre Competition Corvette respectively.
Standing 1.2 inches (3cm.) taller than its predecessor, the MICHELIN taller GT front tire helped Michelin technical partner teams to find the turn-in, stability under braking and extended tread wear needed under the latest GT class rules to succeed in what many consider the most competitive class in international sportscar competition.
Taking the ALMS championship with four wins was the Corvette Racing team and drivers Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner. In its breakout season, the ESM Ferrari team of Scott Sharp and Johannes van Overbeek claimed a pair of victories, including the season’s finale at Petit Le Mans to finish second in the driver championship. Michelin won the ALMS GT Tire championship for the 13th consecutive year.
NISSAN DELTAWING – FOUR –INCH WIDE MICHELIN TIRES THAT ROCK!
While the Audi, Toyota and Rebellion Racing teams were conquering the international scene with massive 14-plus-inch-wide MICHELIN front tires, the Nissan DeltaWing, the most innovative race car of the past 30 years, captured worldwide attention with specially created MICHELIN front tires just four inches wide.
Designed to race with just half the horsepower, downforce, fuel and weight of current Le Mans Prototypes, the Nissan DeltaWing relied on Michelin to not only create unique tires for the radical machine, but to cut tire usage in half as well. Michelin delivered tire performance that helped carry the DeltaWing to a fifth place overall finish at Petit Le Mans while reducing tire mass by 47 percent and completing up to six stints on a single set of MICHELIN tires at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
In addition, a pair of high–profile new teams chose Michelin for partial inaugural season entries. Patrick Dempsey’s Dempsey Racing made its ALMS debut in 2012 with a P2 class Lola prototype, scoring podium finishes at Lime Rock Park and Road America.
The arrival of the new SRT Vipers in ALMS competition at mid-season marked the reuniting of a Michelin-Viper combination that once dominated the international GT sports car season, including three victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1998-2000.