LAS VEGAS - Vehicle manufacturers and technology developers often claim that their motorsports programs provide a proving ground for new technologies. When pressed, they can sometimes point to an electronics package, transmission or an engine technology. Michelin has taken a more direct route.
"We are blowing open the vault to bring more of our outstanding motorsports technology to the consumer," said Sheryl Henderson, Michelin brand director, Michelin North America, Inc.
Drawing from the technology, resources and experience behind one of the most extensive and successful motorsports program in the world, Michelin is transferring an "unprecedented" level of its competition technology to four new ultra-high-performance passenger car tire lines. The new Michelin ® Pilot® Sport PS2(tm) will be available to consumers beginning in the spring of 2004, followed later in the year by the Michelin® Pilot® Exalto PE2(tm), the Michelin® Pilot® XGT Z4(tm) and the Michelin® Pilot® Alpin® PA2(tm).
"Michelin is developing so much new technology in design, construction, compounding and tread design that these new street tires represent a tremendous increase in the volume and level of performance innovations flowing to the market at one time," Henderson said.
The 2003 Michelin Record:
Michelin Formula One-partner teams (Williams-BMW; West McLaren Mercedes; Renault, Jaguar and Toyota) scored seven poles, eight race wins and 30 of 48 podiums in 2003 competition. The five teams scored 408 of 624 (65.38 percent) championship points.
In endurance competition, Michelin teams swept the top ten overall positions and all four classes as Michelin scored its sixth consecutive overall race victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Michelin-fitted overall race winning Bentley Speed 8 car twice quadruple stinted (four fuel loads on a set of tires) on its way to victory.
In the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), Michelin teams won the overall, the LMP900 (Audi) and the GT Class (Porsche) championships. In addition, Michelin fitted-Ferraris won the GTS class in the last four consecutive ALMS events after beating the series-champion Corvettes by ten laps at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Michelin partner teams (Peugeot, Citroen, Ford) have won ten of the 13 World Rally Championship (WRC) events to date and locked up a record 16th team championship. Michelin drivers lead the championship and hold eight of the top nine positions with one race remaining. Earlier in the season Michelin scored its 200th WRC victory.
In addition, Michelin teams continue to shine in motorcycle competition, having captured the MotoGP 500cc World Championship for a fifth consecutive year and posting a 300th series victory earlier in the year. Michelin team riders also won the World Superbike championship.
The Michelin Technology Transfers:
Michelin has always believed in transferring technology from its motorsports programs to its consumer products.
"We've taken a great deal of technology and experience from our motorsports programs for these four new tire lines," said Henderson, "We started with the philosophy of the tire, especially for the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2. The weight, belt package and belt compliance all are based upon our racing experience. The sidewall stiffness and traction features also tie back to lessons we've learned in competition..
Here are additional examples of the Michelin technology transfer:
* The new Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 was inspired by Michelin Formula One tires. The four-groove tread is designed to provide greater stability in tread and contact area under extreme cornering.
* Asymetric tread in combination with dual tread compounding optimize wet and dry performance.
* Ladoux, France, where all Michelin race tires are designed and produced, was the "birthplace" of the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2.
* The Pilot Sport PS2 features Le Mans endurance racing-influenced softer, stickier compounding that maximizes dry grip without compromising tread life.
* All four new tire lines will be produced on Michelin's proprietary manufacturing processes, including its highly guarded C3M manufacturing system for some of the products.
"These are the best handling, highest grip, best performing street tires that Michelin has ever offered to the public," said Henderson.
Michelin manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks, motorcycles and the space shuttle. The company also publishes travel guides, maps and atlases covering Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America (www.michelinman.com) employs 24,640 and operates 22 plants in 18 locations.