As Corvette Racing prepares for its sixth season as a Michelin partner team in the American Le Mans Series, GM Road Racing Group Manager Steve Wesoloski is embracing the tire corporation's involvement in the MICHELIN Green X Challenge for 2009.

"The big thing is adds another layer of credibility," Wesoloski said. "Michelin is not shy - and rightly so - in talking about its concern for the environment and what it does with recycling and its environmentally friendly programs."

Michelin and the Series announced their partnership for the MICHELIN Green X Challenge on Monday in conjunction with the Washington Auto Show. At each Series event in 2009, one prototype and one GT team that demonstrate the best overall performance and fuel efficiency with the least environmental impact will win the MICHELIN Green X Challenge award.

Wesoloski also takes pride in helping transform the image of Corvette from gas-guzzling to energy-efficient and environmentally conscious. That was one of the reasons GM blessed Corvette's decision to compete on cellulosic E85 starting last season; that initiative will continue in 2009 and with the new Corvette GT2 racer.

"It's going to be a long time before the auto industry finds the one magic solution," he admitted. "In the meantime we're all looking for answers. This (cellulosic E85) is one. We're saying you don't have to be afraid of ethanol. It's good enough to race and good enough to drive to soccer practice. And we're not touching the food chain. We're trying to send that message, and using a cellulosic process is a big deal."

And with the development of the GT2 Corvette (which Wesoloski says is on track to test for the first time in mid- to late-March), are there additional efficiencies that can be improved on from the C6.R GT1?

"Certainly there have been lessons learned," he said. "There is a cross over with the production powertrain group as they are taking a lot from the V8 engines we race to make them compatible with E85. Those are things we learned from racing. Another thing we are doing with the GT2 car is weight. We have embraced the aluminum frame from the Z06 and ZR1. You can put these materials in the race car and (embrace) new technologies."

The American Le Mans Series will open its 11th season with the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on Saturday, March 21. SPEED will televise the race live from 10 a.m. to noon and 2-11 p.m. ET. Log on to americanlemans.com for more information.

-credit: alms