MICHELIN LAGUNA SECA FIA GT AND SPORTS CAR ENTRIES INCLUDE LE MANS WINNING PORSCHE AND ORECA VIPER AND SEBRING WINNING PANOZ
(GREENVILLE, SC) --- Michelin will be well represented in this weekend's Visa Sports Car Championships at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif. It is the final round for SPORTS CAR and the FIA GT. Michelin-equipped sports cars have already claimed titles in both series' and will wrap up another before the weekend is over.
"Laguna Seca has a long history of sports car racing and Michelin looks forward to proving itself and guiding the one of the Panoz drivers to the SPORTS CAR Driver's championship," said Herb Johnson, Director of Motorsports, Michelin North America. "The grip and consistent handling of our Pilot radials have given our U.S and European teams the ability to run up front during an entire race and the results show it."
The Sebring-winning Panoz team will enter two Michelin-fitted Panoz GTR-1 in the two and one-half hour SPORTS CAR race on Saturday. David Brabham of Australia and Andy Wallace of France will drive the No. 4 Panoz. Eric Bernard of France and Johnny O'Connell of Phoenix, Ariz. will drive the No. 5 Panoz. Brabham and Wallace lead Bernard 151-148 in chase for the Driver's title. Panoz previously secured the SPORTS CAR Manufacturer and Team titles. The team will try to give Michelin a perfect record in North American GT1 racing in 1998. Michelin-fitted cars have captured all 12 North American GT1 races this season.
1998 Le Mans winner, Allan McNish, of Scotland, will co-drive the Michelin-fitted No. 7 Porsche 911 GT1 98 with Yannick Dalmas of France in Sunday's FIA GT race. Uwe Alzen and Jorg Muller, both of Germany, will drive the No. 8 Porsche 911 GT1 98. Bernard and Brabham will pilot the No. 3 DAMS Panoz GTR.
Olivier Beretta of France and Pedro Lamy of Portugal, co-winners of the FIA GT2 Driver's title, will be behind the wheel of the Michelin-fitted No. 51 Chrysler Viper GTS-R. Karl Wendlinger of Austria and David Donohue of Malvern, Pa. will drive the No. 52 Viper. The Le Mans winning factory-backed ORECA team has won eight of the nine FIA GT2 races and also clinched the GT2 Teams Championship (subject to official confirmation by the FIA).
Two Michelin-equipped BMW Motorsport Le Mans Prototypes are entered as well. Bill Auberlen of Redondo Beach, Calif. and Didier de Radigues of Monaco will drive the No. 2 BMW entry. Hans Stuck of Austria and Steve Soper of the U.K. will wheel the No. 3 car.
Michelin began the GT season by claiming the GT1 class victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona with the Rohr Motorsports Porsche 911 GT1. Panoz Motorsports drivers Wallace and Brabham led a Michelin sweep of the GT1 podium at Sebring. The Champion Porsche finished in the runner up position, followed by a second Panoz entry. Panoz also has victories at Las Vegas, Homestead, Lime Rock Park, Mid-Ohio, Minneapolis, Mosport and the overall and GT1 victory at the Sebring Fall Festival. Champion Porsche won at Road Atlanta, Watkins Glen and the Petit Le Mans.
Michelin scored dual victories at Le Mans in June. The Michelin-equipped Porsche GT1-98, piloted by McNish, Laurent Aiello and Stepane Ortelli, both of France, claimed the GT1 and overall victory in the world's most prestigious endurance race. The Michelin-fitted Chrysler Viper GTS-R driven by Donohue, Justin Bell of Britain and Luca Drudi of Italy were the victors in GT2. Michelin supported cars finished second in both GT1 and in GT2.
In addition to its activity in GT racing this year, Michelin North America is also supplying tires for the Barber Dodge Pro Series Nilton Rossoni beat Jeff Simmons and Todd Snyder to the checkered flag in last Saturday's 22-lap race in Homestead. Points leader, Simmons and Snyder will conclude the battle for the driver's championship at Laguna Seca.