Michelin Sebring Advance

MICHELIN PREPARED FOR BATTLE IN 12 HOURS OF SEBRING Top Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Porsche and Panoz Teams Choose Michelin Technology (GREENVILLE, S.C.) --- Six top manufacturers and teams have elected to race with Michelin tires in sports car ...

MICHELIN PREPARED FOR BATTLE IN 12 HOURS OF SEBRING Top Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Porsche and Panoz Teams Choose Michelin Technology

(GREENVILLE, S.C.) --- Six top manufacturers and teams have elected to race with Michelin tires in sports car competition this year, with many beginning their season at Sebring International Raceway March 20 with the 47th running of the famed Superflo 12 Hours of Sebring race.

With Michelin's Pilot radials as a key ingredient to their championship winning seasons in 1998, Panoz and Champion Porsche will again count on the handling and durability of Michelin tires during this inaugural season of the American Le Mans Series. Panoz captured the GT1 title in the 12 Hours of Sebring last year. They returned in the fall to give Michelin its first overall victory in North American sports car competition after Michelin's wet weather tires gave the Panoz GTR-1 the grip and traction it needed in the rain soaked event.

The BMW and Audi factory teams will debut their new Prototypes and make their return to North American sports car racing with Michelin tires. The Ferrari Prototypes of Doran/Lista and Doran/Matthews are already competing with Michelins in 1999. The Lista Ferrari began the season with a third place finish in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Schumacher Racing has also selected Michelin tires for their Porsche 911.

"With such a strong lineup of factory and private teams set to run on Pilot radials, Michelin is aggressively seeking victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring," said Herb Johnson, Michelin's Director of Motorsports, North America. "With premier car makers like BMW, Panoz, Audi and the private Ferrari and Porsche teams choosing to run with Michelin tires, we expect to continue our great sports car success into 1999," said Johnson. Michelin-fitted teams captured first and second place honors in both the Prototype and GT2 classes at the 24 Hours of LeMans in June, 1998.

Michelin's strong driver line-up includes three defending Sebring champions. Didier Theys and Mauro Baldi were the overall Sebring winners last year and will share driving duties with Fredy Lienhard in No. 27 Doran/Lista Ferrari 333SP. Team owner, Jim Matthews, Tom Kendall and Mark Dismore will pilot the No. 36 Doran/Matthews Ferrari 333SP.

David Brabham, Sebring GT1 champion for Panoz a year ago, will share driving duties in the No. 1 Panoz GTR-1 with Eric Bernard and Klaus Graf. Brabham also won the SPORTS CAR GT1 championship last year. Johnny O'Connell, Jan Magnussen and John Nielsen will share driving duties in the No. 2 Panoz entry.

Tom Kristensen, J.J. Lehto and Jorg Muller will pilot the No. 42 BMW V12 LMR and Joachim Winkelhock, Pierluigi Martini and Yannick Dalmas, who garnered the overall victory at Le Mans on Michelin tires, will drive the No. 43 BMW.

Audi Sport Team Joest will debut a pair of Audi R8s. Michele Alboretto and Rinaldo Capello will drive the No. 77 Audi and Emmanuelle Pirro will drive the No. 78 Audi entry.

Thierry Boutsen, USRRC Drivers' champion, returns with Champion Porsche along with Bob Wolleck and Dirk Muller of Germany. The team finished second in the GT1 class in last year's 12 Hours.

Car owner, Larry Schumacher and John O'Steen will carry the GTS fight for Michelin in the Schumacher Racing Porsche 911 Turbo. The team finished second in class in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

"In a 12 hour race, weather and changing track conditions can all come into play, but as Michelin demonstrated here last year, we are ready for the challenges that Sebring throws at you," said Johnson. "With our stellar lineup of manufacturers, teams and drivers, Michelin is ready to go racing again in 1999."

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