Sebring: Michelin halfway notes

Michelin sets the pace at halfway point in Sebring 12 Hour LEADING THE CHARGE-- Half way through the toughest race in the American Le Mans Series, Michelin teams continue to lead all three classes that the French tire manufacturer is entered in...

Michelin sets the pace at halfway point in Sebring 12 Hour

LEADING THE CHARGE-- Half way through the toughest race in the American Le Mans Series, Michelin teams continue to lead all three classes that the French tire manufacturer is entered in at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

The two Audi UK machines of Allan McNish/Pierre Kaffer and Frank Biela narrowly led team-mates Guy Smith/Johnny Herbert and Jamie Davies (pictured right) after six hours.

In the GTS division, the Michelin-equipped Chevrolet Corvettte C5-R of Ron Fellows/Johnny O'Connell and Max Papis held a 7 lap lead. The Corvette challange however, was unfortunately halved by a clutch failure for the Oliver Gavin/Olivier Beretta/Jan Magnussen car.

In GT, Michelin held 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th places with the Alex Job Racing Porsche of Romain Dumas/Mark Lieb and Lucas Luhr heading the pack.

TIRE SELECTION BY TEMPERATURE--Selecting the right tire for the right conditions is the key to success at the Twelve Hours of Sebring. Michelin tire engineers assigned to each team closely monitor both the air and track temperatures before advising which tire to use during the race. While the air temperature was 74 degrees at race start, the racing surface was actually 93 degrees. In the race to date, the highest recorded track temperature has been 96 degrees. Once night falls, the Michelin-equipped Corvette squad expects to change to a softer compound when the track temperature reaches 70 degrees.

THE GT CHALLENGE -- While the Porsche GT car may compete in the slowest of the four classes contesting the Twelve Hours of Sebring, the highly successful German racer actually represents one of the toughest challenges in tire design for Michelin. "Developing the tires for the Porsche is certainly as big a challenge for us as developing the P1 prototype tire," said Chris Baker, Michelin North America's director of Motorsports and events. "Because of the regulations, the tire is a lot narrower than a prototype tire, providing us with less rubber to get the power to the road."

Like the Corvette, Michelin's Porsche entries will also move to a different tire "solution" once the track cools in evening conditions. The race-leading P1 prototype teams, Champion Audi and Audi UK, have additional options to cope with changing track conditions and are expected to use two additional compounds before the race is completed at 10:30 tonight.

MICHELIN MILESTONE--Despite competition from five tire companies, Lap 40 of today's race marked the 1,500th consecutive lap or 5,500 miles of competition that Michelin fitted cars have led here at Sebring, a streak that reaches back to the closing stages of the 1999 race. Audi UK star and ex-Toyota Formula One driver Alan McNish took the honor of leading Michelin's 1,500th lap.

CORVETTE STINTS--Chevrolet Corvette C5-R drivers Ron Fellows and Oliver Gavin made their first competition stints on Michelin tires in impressive fashion. Fellows took the early lead and bettered the old Sebring GTS competition lap record eight times in his opening stint. Meanwhile, teammate Oliver Gavin didn't take long to recover the ground lost after a qualifying penalty that put him at the back of the field. He put his new Michelin tires to good use, bettering the old (1:59:357) lap mark 16 times in his first 25 laps. Unfortunately for Gavin, a clutch failure on lap 87 put the car out of the event.

SORRY BOYS--NO WETS TODAY---- Today's hot, dry conditions here at Sebring are making for some fast racing. But with dry conditions expected to prevail for the entire race a few of the Michelin race tire designers and engineers are actually a bit disappointed. "We have some really strong wet tires that our guys were anxious to run in competition," said Amanda Head, Michelin motorsports marketing manager. "The fans here appreciate the sunshine and clear skies. We promised the engineers we'd have plenty of chances to race in the wet maybe at Le Mans or somewhere during the ALMS season."

-michelin-

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Series ALMS
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Jan Magnussen , Allan McNish , Guy Smith , Frank Biela , Max Papis , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Jamie Davies , Lucas Luhr , Oliver Gavin , Romain Dumas , Olivier Beretta , Alex Job