2006 - a year of technological challenges for Michelin
A fundamental fixture of Michelin's calendar for many years, Le Mans has carved out a unique place in motor sport history and in the hearts of racings fans the world over. Some 21 million viewers followed the 2005 race, while 230,000 spectators packed into the circuit twelve months ago to watch Audi'sTom Kristensen claim a record seventh win and Corvette's and Porsche's triumphs inGT1 and GT2. This time round there will be just as many to witness the Le Mans debut of the Audi R10-Michelin, as well as the anticipated showdowns in their respective categories between Aston Martin and Chevrolet and between Ferrari and Porsche.
Performance, impeccable reliability, pugnacity, reactivity, clockwork-like organisation, team spirit despite the often individualistic side to the sport and, above all, passion... These are all ingredients it takes to win the Le Mans 24 Hours. And a victory in the French classic is priceless. No, that's notquite true. It does have a price: that of all the hard work that goes into painstakingly preparing the event in the months prior to the start, and then all the way to the chequered flag!
It is doubtlessly for this reason that Le Mans has written some of the finest chapters in world class motor sport history. Legends based on drivers, teams, people, the industry, unforgettable on-track clashes and major automotive breakthroughs abound. Today, prestigious names like Audi, Porsche, Ferrari, Aston-Martin and Chevrolet are all active in the discipline with a view to developing new technologies and/or promoting a dynamic image of their make across the planet. Meanwhile, privateers such as Pescarolo-Sport, RML and Russian Age Racing produce a very special effort to rival with the factory teams.
For Michelin, the 2006 Le Mans 24 Hours stands out as a capital challenge. To begin with, the aim will be to claim a 15th victory in the French classic - which would make it nine Michelin wins in a row! - and to accompany its factory and privateer teams to the very top. On top of that, this year has seen the Clermont-Ferrand firm join forces with Audi in its formidable adventure of bringing diesel power into top flight motor sport. Michelin is proud to have been chosen by its partners to rise to all these different challenges. "The philosophy of the ACO has always been to promote new technologies," says Frederic Henry -Biabaud, Competition Director of the Michelin Group. "This philosophy in turn permits Michelin to be involved with its manufacturer partners to develop new technologies and innovate at their sides. For Michelin, endurance racing is a tremendous springboard for research and innovation."