Spa: Michelin race report

FOURTH VICTORY FOR MICHELIN SOFT TYRES HOLD THE KEY ON AN AGGRESSIVE CIRCUIT Michelin has today claimed its fourth Le Mans Series victory of the year, thanks to Peugeot Sport at the classic Spa Francorchamps circuit. The winning crew of ...

FOURTH VICTORY FOR MICHELIN SOFT TYRES HOLD THE KEY ON AN AGGRESSIVE CIRCUIT

Michelin has today claimed its fourth Le Mans Series victory of the year, thanks to Peugeot Sport at the classic Spa Francorchamps circuit. The winning crew of Pedro Lamy and Stephane Sarrazin completed the 1000 kilometres in 5h47m, covering 143 laps.

The Pescarolo Sport car of Emmanuel Collard and Jean-Christophe Bouillon was second, two laps behind the winners.

Finally, against all expectations, the RML team was third overall - despite competing in the lower LMP2 category.

In GT1, the Oreca team of Stephane Ortelli and Soheil Ayari claimed victory, having also taken pole position the day before.

Matthieu Bonardel - Michelin Competition Director (4 wheels):

"Spa is a very quick and aggressive track: a real challenge for tyres. It primarily affects front tyre wear, so it's essential to find a good set-up from the start. Today, the Peugeot team demonstrated that despite the severity of the circuit, it was possible to use soft tyres during the race - at least during the conditions we encountered today, in which the temperature never exceeded 25 degrees centigrade.

>From the start of free practice at the beginning of the weekend, they found that this tyre had good potential in terms of grip but that it was necessary to adjust the set-up to avoid excessive wear. This is something that the whole team realised quickly.

The Pescarolo team also tried soft and medium tyres for the race. They found that the medium tyre was more stable and better adapted to the car.

The other teams all chose medium tyres for the race, and were able to complete double stints on the same set of tyres with no problems.

When it started to rain, it was important to avoid a knee-jerk reaction. The small amount of water on the track was of little consequence in terms of grip. There were some moments of panic amongst some teams, who decided to switch to rain tyres. Those who knew the circuit well decided to wait and see - and this was the correct decision. We know that we can still get good grip out of slick tyres in the rain at Spa and that as a tyre change takes quite some time, it's best not to be too hasty.

Those drivers that stayed out on slicks lost around 10 seconds per lap, which relatively speaking is not a lot. A tyre change takes about a minute and a half, so the maths are simple.

We saw a fantastic race in LMP2, which ended with the RML team finishing third overall using medium compound tyres. It was a good performance also from the Zytek Barazi Epsilon team, who went for a soft tyre choice that was equally capable of double-stinting. Just like Peugeot, they proved that it was entirely possible to find good consistency in the tyre that developed the best performance - on a circuit that is renowned for punishing rubber.

In GT2, all the teams made the same choice. The medium tyre was clearly the best solution.

This weekend gave us all the answers we were looking for about the potential of our soft tyres on the Spa circuit. We've seen that with the right settings, some cars are a lot less hard on their tyres and can consequently use more performance-orientated tyres without excessive wear.

We've also seen that the LMP2 cars are getting closer and closer to the LMP1 cars in terms of performance. The LMP2 cars can now be considered as candidates for victory."

Stephane Sarrazin - Peugeot Sport driver

"I'm delighted to have won this race. The whole team has donea fantastic job, starting with Pedro Lamy who has been amazing. We stayed out on the slick tyres when it started raining, and Pedro was perfect on a damp track. Our tyre choice was made quite quickly at the start of the weekend with our Michelin engineer. We decided to go with the soft tyres, and that was clearly the best solution for us. Thanks to Michelin for some excellent advice and excellent tyres!"

Thomas Erdos - RML driver

"The Michelin tyres were fantastic all the week-end! We could have easily tripled stints here, which is incredible! We chose the medium compound for the race and it was the right choice for us. We were consistently the quickest car in the class. A big thanks to Michelin!"

-credit: michelin

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Emmanuel Collard , Stéphane Sarrazin , Pedro Lamy , Stéphane Ortelli , Thomas Erdos , Soheil Ayari