Road Atlanta II: Michelin preview

Hot? Warm? Cold? Somewhere in-between? Maybe misting or heavy wet conditions? Michelin's American LeMans series race engineers have a tire specifically designed for nearly every race track condition. The trick is to have the right tire mounted...

Hot? Warm? Cold? Somewhere in-between? Maybe misting or heavy wet conditions? Michelin's American LeMans series race engineers have a tire specifically designed for nearly every race track condition.

The trick is to have the right tire mounted on the race car at the right time. Which makes the Petit LeMans, a 10-Hour/1,000 mile race at Road Atlanta, a particularly challenging event for Michelin.

Michelin teams won the three-hour June event at Road Atlanta and have dominated the longer races in 2003, sweeping the top ten spots at the famed 24 Hours of LeMans and winning the 12 Hours of Sebring. But the fall classic at Road Atlanta adds a bit of a twist according to Michelin's motorsports marketing manager, Amanda Head.

"Racing in the fall, the days are getting shorter and the weather can change very quickly. Track temperature changes can be fairly dramatic, sometimes dropping up to 30 degrees during the course of the race," said Head. "We develop tires in 10 degree track temperature increments, so that is a big change. The race will start in the late morning and get pretty warm throughout the afternoon, but the last three hours are run after dark and the track can cool off pretty quickly."

That's where keeping the cars matched up to the right tire solution can be a challenge. "It's like hitting a moving target," continued Head. Michelin prototype teams like to double-stint tires where possible, which means going about two hours on the same set of tires. "The track and temperature can change quite a bit in two hours," said Head.

To make sure that they have the right combination, Michelin will bring 2,500 tires and a minimum of 22 different tire solutions (construction/compound) to the race. And since they won't know what the conditions will be, they need enough supply of each tire to support the 17 cars entered by the Michelin partner teams through the ten-hour race. "We assign a Michelin engineer to each team to help keep them matched up to the track all race long," said Head. "That is one of the best parts of endurance racing. The longer and tougher the race, the more Michelin likes it."

Michelin Seeks Sweep of Major Endurance Races - Michelin heads to Road Atlanta for the 1,000 mile/10 hour Petit LeMans with hopes of sweeping their third major endurance win of the season. Michelin opened the 2003 ALMS season with a victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Then in June, Michelin was victorious, for the sixth consecutive year, at the fabled 24 Hours of Le Mans. A Petit LeMans victory would complete their sports car endurance sweep of the 2003 motorsports season.

ALMS Tire Championship Update - Having already wrapped up two ALMS Tire Championships, LMP900 and GT classes, Michelin heads to Road Atlanta with a chance to add a third tire championship. With three consecutive wins by Prodrive Ferrari, the GTS Tire Championship has become the most heated battle within the American Le Mans Series. Michelin currently stands only 11 points behind Goodyear. Earlier this season, Michelin secured its fourth consecutive ALMS Tire Championship and currently leads with 166 points over Dunlop (50 points) and Goodyear (20 points). On the strength of seven wins from the Alex Job Porsche team, Michelin also has secured the GT Tire Championship, which is their fourth in a row. Michelin has 166 points, ahead of Pirelli (54 points), Yokohama (53 points) and Dunlop (36 points)

Michelin Performance Series - The Michelin Performance Series stops at Road Atlanta to offer visitors unique and fun ways to expand their knowledge about tires, transportation and the future of mobility. The exhibit contains virtual reality, video games, trivia games, a Formula One racecar, Segway Human Transporters and much more. In addition, the Michelin Man will be greeting all visitors.

Strong Finishes At Road Atlanta - Road Atlanta hosted the American Le Mans Series earlier this year with Michelin taking the victory in the LMP900 and GT categories. J.J. Lehto and Johnny Herbert drove their Michelin-shod Champion Audi to their first career ALMS victory. Alex Job Racing took the top two spots and the Racer's Group rounded out the podium in the GT category aboard their Michelin-shod Porsches.

Last year at the Petit LeMans, Michelin concluded the ALMS season by securing the top seven spots with Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen taking the victory in their Michelin-shod Audi R8. Champion Audi pilots Johnny Herbert and Stefan Johansson followed in second and a Cadillac Northstar driven by J.J. Lehto, Max Angelelli and Christophe Tinseau rounded out the podium. In addition, Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr secured the win in the GT category.

Michelin's Teams Prepared for Endurance Run at Petit LeMans - Michelin heads for the ALMS season finale and 1,000 miles with an assortment of successful motorsports partners. In the LMP900 category, the Infineon Team Joest and Champion battle will continue accompanied by a pair of Panoz LMP01's from JML Team Panoz. With three consecutive GTS class victories, Prodrive Ferrari has decided to enter a third 550 Maranello at Petit LeMans in hopes of sweeping the podium. And in the GT class, Alex Job Racing, leads an assortment of Porsche entries from Orbit Racing, the Racers' Group, White Lightning/Peterson and J-3 Racing. Risi Competizione rounds out the GT class with its Ferrari 360 Modena.

Michelin Laps Field - Despite competition from five other tire companies, Michelin teams enter this weekend's Petit LeMans having led 7,659 of the 7,978 laps (96 percent) in ALMS competition since the series began in 1999 and has an opportunity to push their laps lead over the 8,000 barrier. Michelin also has won 44 of 46 races in ALMS history.

Audi Presents Petit LeMans Live on SPEED Channel - The Petit LeMans will be aired live from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 3:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. ET, Oct. 18, on SPEED Channel.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Stefan Johansson , Rinaldo Capello , Tom Kristensen , J.J. Lehto , Christophe Tinseau , Sascha Maassen , Lucas Luhr , Max Angelelli , Alex Job
Teams Alex Job Racing