Laguna Seca: Michelin preview

With a pair of Michelin drivers, Williams BMW's Juan Pablo Montoya and McLaren Mercedes' Kimi Raikkonen, trailing defending world champion Michael Schumacher by just one and two points respectively, it is difficult to imagine Michelin folks...

With a pair of Michelin drivers, Williams BMW's Juan Pablo Montoya and McLaren Mercedes' Kimi Raikkonen, trailing defending world champion Michael Schumacher by just one and two points respectively, it is difficult to imagine Michelin folks cheering for red Ferraris, but that will be exactly the scene this weekend at the Monterey Sports Car Championships, the seventh race of the 2003 American LeMans Series.

Michelin is pleased to be fitted on the GTS Ferrari one-two punch of Prodrive Ferrari's 550 Maranellos. Teammates David Brabham and Jan Magnussen, winners of the most recent ALMS event at Road America, and defending Laguna Seca GTS race champions Peter Kox and Tomas Enge will take on their strong rivals.

Meanwhile in the GT Class battle, yet another red Ferrari, the Modena 360 of Risi Competizione driven by Ralf Kelleners and Anthony Lazzaro, is making great strides this season posting three consecutive podium finishes.

"Given the F1 battle, it is rather ironic, that Michelin fans and engineers will be at Laguna Seca cheering on our red Ferraris, 'said Amanda Head, Michelin motorsports marketing manager.

"We are working hard to help our ALMS Ferraris continue their success. But we hope that the Ferrari success is limited to ALMS and not Formula One especially with the championship so highly contested."

A Tire Engineer's Dream -

"Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is a track that rewards rhythm," said Amanda Head, Michelin motorsports marketing manager. "Because the track features several fast, sweeping corners, it is a tire engineer's dream. The temperature in the tires is much more consistent through the sweeping corners than when a track has several tight corners. Smooth driving works the tire to its best advantage by generating heat and operating pressure evenly between both sides of the race car. The tires give consistent feedback to the drivers and allow them to know their limits."

"Temperatures are typically cool in the Monterey Peninsula, which is beneficial to tires," continued Head. "The track surface is fairly smooth and there is not a lot of heavy braking or heavy acceleration. The only thing that could affect grip will be sand tossed up on the track from off-track excursions into the gravel traps."

Michelin Performance Series -

The Michelin Performance Series stops at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to offer visitors unique and fun ways to expand their knowledge about tires, transportation and the future of mobility. The exhibit contains virtual reality, video games, trivia games, a Formula One racecar, Segway Human Transporters and much more. In addition, the Michelin Man will be greeting all visitors.

ALMS Tire Championship Update -

Michelin has wrapped up two ALMS Tire Championships, LMP900 and GT classes with three races remaining in the 2003 schedule. Thanks to a sweep of all six races, Michelin has secured its fourth consecutive ALMS Tire Championship. Michelin currently leads the ALMS Tire Championship with 126 points over Dunlop (30 points) and Goodyear (20 points). On the strength of five wins from the Alex Job Porsche team, Michelin also has secured the GT Tire Championship, which is the fourth in a row. Michelin has 126 points, ahead of Yokohama (46), Dunlop (32) and Pirelli (31). Michelin also has closed the gap with Goodyear in the GTS category. Goodyear leads with 122 points with Michelin close behind with 97 points.

Last Year Sweep at Laguna Seca -

Michelin continued its winning streak at Laguna Seca by sweeping the podium as Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro led all 112 laps in their Infineon Joest Audi R8 to secure the victory over Champion Audi pilots Stefan Johansson and Johnny Herbert. A Cadillac Northstar LMP02 driven by JJ Lehto and Max Angelelli rounded out the podium. In addition, Michelin scored its first GTS win of the season as Tomas Enge and Peter Kox piloted their Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello to victory. The win was impressive as Enge ran the final one-hour, forty-five minutes of the race on the same set of Michelin tires. Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr rounded out the Michelin dominance by securing the win in the GT category.

Michelin Well Represented on Pacific Coast -

Michelin tires will be fitted on a variety of Audis, Panozs, Dallara/Judds, Porsches and Ferraris at Mazda Raceway. In the LMP900 category, Infineon Team Joest headlines a group of five prototype entries including, Champion Racing, Doran Racing and a pair from JML Team Panoz. Prodrive Ferrari will field a pair of 550 Maranellos in the competitive GTS category. And in the GT class, Alex Job Racing, leads an assortment of Porsche entries from Orbit Racing, the Racers' Group, Peterson and J-3 Racing. Risi Competizione rounds out the GT class with its Ferrari 360 Modena.

Michelin Laps Field -

Despite competition from five other tire companies, Michelin teams enter this weekend's Monterey Sports Car Championships having led 7,387 of the 7,701 laps (96 percent) in ALMS competition since the series began in 1999. Michelin also has won 42 of 44 races in ALMS history.

Monterey Sports Car Championships Live on NBC - The Monterey Sports Car Championships will be aired live at 4:00 p.m. ET, Sept. 7, on NBC.

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Williams , Risi Competizione , Doran Racing , Alex Job Racing