Jarama: Michelin preview

With the LMP1 title already secured, Michelin targets the LMP2 and LMGT1 crowns in Spain With the title in the LMP1 blue ribband category already wrapped up in association with Pescarolo Sport, the final round of the 2006 Le Mans Series at...

With the LMP1 title already secured, Michelin

targets the LMP2 and LMGT1 crowns in Spain With the title in the LMP1 blue ribband category already wrapped up in association with Pescarolo Sport, the final round of the 2006 Le Mans Series at Jarama should see Michelin sew up the two other categories in which it is present, namely LMP2 and LMGT1. In LMP2, four prototypes all Michelin runners can still claim the 2006 crown, although the odds are slightly in favour of RML. Meanwhile, the three-cornered battle in the LMGT1 category between the Corvette C5.R-Michelin of Alphand/Goueslard/Policand, the Aston Martin-Michelin of Lamy/Gardel/Vosse and the Ferrari- Michelin of Kox/Pergl/Vassiliev promises to be a thriller, with just a one-point difference covering these three teams with one round remaining!

Located in Madrid's outer suburbs, Jarama is rarely used today for world class racing. The record books show that Michelin's last win round the 3.850km venue was in 2002 when its partners monopolised the podium of the FIA GT round held here thanks to the Ferrari 550 Maranello of Deletraz/Piccini and Larbre Competition's two Chrysler Vipers.

Jarama is a hilly track and quite slow too, since the lap record set by Jean-Marc Gounon (Ferrari F40) in 1996 was set at an average speed of just 148kph. "I recall the fairly steep descent which terminates in a very difficult left-hander. Jarama is an ageing circuit and its asphalt is quite hard-wearing for the tyres, although its layout isn't too hard on the casings," says Michelin's Endurance Programme Manager Gérard Aussage. "We have consequently had to find the ideal compromise between wear and grip. For the final round of the year, we will use products from the existing range that give us this compromise."

The fifth round of the 2006 Le Mans Series promises to be particularly exciting. Even though Pescarolo Sport- Michelin has already secured the honours in LMP1, Emmanuel Collard, Jean-Christophe Boullion and Didier André will be out to make it a grand slam for the team this season. For Michelin too it will be a case of defending an unbeaten record that dates back to the very creation of the LMS in 2004!

Attention at Jarama will above all focus however on the scrap for the LMP2 and LMGT1 titles. The four prototypes still in the running for the LMP2 crown (MG Lola/RML, Courage C65/Barazi-Epsilon, Lola/Binnie Motorsports and Pilbeam/Pierre Bruneau) are all Michelin runners. Thanks to its recent win at Donington, RML (Newton/Erdos) currently enjoys a three-point cushion over the Barazi-Epsilon Courage (Vergers/Barazi/Valsecchi).

In LMGT1, the provisional top three are separated by a single point. Although the Alphand Aventures Corvette- Michelin has yet to win, its consistency has taken it to the top of the LMGT1 Teams' standings with one race to go. The Larbre Compétition-run Aston Martin-Michelin (Lamy/Gardel/Vosse) and Convers Menx Ferrari-Michelin

(Kox/Pergl/Vassiliev) are equal 2nd, one point behind the Corvette. These three teams will doubtlessly be joined in the fight for victory by the Saleen-Michelin of Ortelli/Ayari and the Aston Martin-Michelin run by the Modena squad which has recruited David Brabham alongside Antonio Garcia to boost the latter's bid for the LMGT1 Drivers' crown.

-credit: michelin

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Series ELMS