MICHELIN TEAMS MARCH TO MONTEREY
Championships Secured, Can Michelin Go Undefeated in 2007 ALMS?
MONTEREY, CALIF. (Oct. 15, 2007) - A record breaking, history making, fiercely competitive season of American Le Mans Series competition is prepping for its final race and one of its premier players, Michelin, stands on the brink of an unprecedented perfect season in 2007.
Michelin returns to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the final race of the 2007 ALMS season reaching for unprecedented heights. Michelin partner teams have won each of the four ALMS classes at all 11 races in 2007, taking all 44 class victories. A sweep of the four classes at Laguna Seca would create the first season-long clean sweep for a tire manufacturer in ALMS history.
"Laguna Seca is our final and in some ways toughest test of the season," said Silvia Mammone, manager of motorsports, Michelin North America, Inc. "We are outnumbered in the LMP1 class (3 to 4) entries and we have seen new winners at Laguna Seca in the past, most recently 2005. The European teams that joined the series for the recent Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta and now here at Laguna Seca, are very strong. We have seen the continued emergence of two of the American-based teams as well."
Michelin and their technical partners have already locked up the manufacturer championships in LMP1 (Audi), LMP2 (Porsche) and GT1 (Chevrolet), while the GT2 championship is still up for grabs as Ferrari (Michelin) and Porsche (Michelin) are only separated by 10 points.
Three of the four class drivers' championships have been clinched by Michelin drivers with Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello taking LMP1 honors, Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard winning in LMP2 and Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin securing the GT1 crown. The GT2 drivers' championship has been a heated battle since the first race of the season and won't be finalized until the checkers fly at Laguna Seca. Risi Ferrari drivers Mika Salo and Jaime Melo hold a 22-point lead over Flying Lizard Porsche drivers Jorg Bergmeister and Johannes van Overbeek.
Michelin technical partner-teams also have secured the LMP1 (Audi Sport North America), LMP2 (Penske Racing) and the GT1 (Corvette Racing) team titles. The GT2 team championship will be determined at Laguna Seca with Michelin partner teams Risi Competizione holding a 13-point lead over Flying Lizard Motorsports. For the second consecutive season, Michelin and its partners are wrapping up a veritable Championship Grand Slam (Tire, Manufacturer, Team and Driver's Championship in all four classes). Michelin has clinched the ALMS Tire Championship in LMP1, LMP2, GT1 and GT2.
MICHELIN PLAN: BE SMOOTH, BE FAST, BE CONSISTENT
At the Laguna Seca circuit, rhythm and smooth driving pays off both in terms of consistent lap times and reducing tire wear. The track features several fast, sweeping corners, and Michelin engineers report that tire temperatures are usually balanced and predictable. "We expect that many of our Michelin partner Prototype teams will have the option of double-stinting tires and that our GT teams should have consistent handling and lap times throughout their extended stints," said Karl Koenigstein, Michelin's technical team leader for ALMS.
"The track surface is fairly smooth and there is not a lot of heavy braking or heavy acceleration required. The only thing that affects grip is the sand tossed up on the track from off-track excursions into the gravel traps. The tires give progressive feedback to the drivers and should allow them to know their limits," said Koenigstein.
ALMS TIRE CHAMPIONS
Michelin wrapped up their second consecutive ALMS Tire Championship class sweep earlier this year.