Top ALMS Teams Choose Michelin "No Compromise" Technology; Michelin Closes in on ALMS Milestone at Long Beach LONG BEACH, CALIF. (April 13, 2009) - Heading into the Long Beach Grand Prix, the third stop on the 2009 American Le Mans Series ...
Top ALMS Teams Choose Michelin "No Compromise" Technology; Michelin Closes in on ALMS Milestone at Long Beach
LONG BEACH, CALIF. (April 13, 2009) - Heading into the Long Beach Grand Prix, the third stop on the 2009 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) schedule, Michelin is focused on providing the tires, technical support and insights needed to give its technical partner teams a winning advantage.
It is a challenge that Michelin relishes and has met in scoring 98 overall and 291 class wins in the first 101 ALMS races, and victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in each of the last 11 years. Eleven of the twenty ALMS cars entered will race with MICHELIN® tires.
In addition to facing competition from multiple tire makers in the ALMS and on the European-based Le Mans Series, Michelin engineers and researchers must deal with the unique challenges presented by each car and team.
"We cannot compromise," said Karl Koenigstein, Michelin ALMS technical team leader. "Our Michelin technical partner teams respect one another and the competition, but they are here to win and they chose Michelin because they expect Michelin to help them be successful."
Like the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the European-based Le Mans Series, the American Le Mans Series is based on the concept of "open competition" meaning there is a wide diversity in the cars, engines, tires and fuels.
Audi, Acura, Peugeot, Mazda, Lola, Corvette, Porsche, Ferrari, BMW, Ford, Panoz and Dodge have all competed in one or both of the first two races of the 2009 ALMS season.
DIFFERENT CARS, ENGINES, FUELS
"We have front engine (Corvette), mid-engine (Risi Ferrari) and rear- engine (Flying Lizard Motorsports and Farnbacher Loles Porsche) cars competing in the GT category," said Koenigstein.
Michelin technical partner prototype teams (de Ferran Motorsports Acura, Patron Highcroft Acura, Lowe's Fernandez Acura and Dyson Lola Mazda) (all mid-engine) are completely different concepts.
Turbocharged, diesel, big block V8 and hybrid power are all permitted.
ALMS cars race on one of four approved fuels - clean sulfur-free diesel, E10, cellulosic E85 or gas-electric hybrid.
The dramatic new Acura LMP1 prototypes are a radical design, racing with what Michelin calls a 'square' fitment, meaning the same size tires on both the front and the rear of the car. The Acura LMP2 car and the Mazda Lola coupe, an enclosed cockpit with a full canopy, run a more traditional fitment with front tires that are two inches narrower and two inches shorter than the LMP1 Acura.
The LMP1 Patron Highcroft and de Ferran Motorsports Acuras, the LMP2 Lowe's Fernandez Acura and both Dyson BP Mazda Lolas will likely race with MICHELIN® "Street Soft" tires, which were developed for the prototype class.
"These are the softest tires that Michelin has ever raced in the ALMS and provides our prototype teams additional grip without compromising tire life or wear," said Koenigstein. "Unlike most soft tires, these Michelin street soft tires maintain consistency and do not wear out faster than our traditional race tires. We often see the lap times improve on longer runs."
Introduced at the 2008 St. Petersburg ALMS event, the MICHELIN® "Street Soft" tires carried Audi to the LMP1 and overall victory and the Patron Highcroft Acura to the LMP2 victory at the 2008 Long Beach Grand Prix and the LMP1 victory at the 2009 Acura Sports Car Challenge in St. Petersburg.
The Michelin GT technical partners from Corvette, Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche, Farnbacher Loles Porsche and Risi Competizione Ferrari may well go in a different direction for the 100 minute Long Beach race. "The GT cars can go a bit longer on a stint (full load of fuel) so they may choose a slightly harder Michelin tire and try to do the entire race without changing tires," said Koenigstein. Not changing tires saves about 15 seconds in the pits (ALMS rules do not permit refueling and tire changes at the same time). That strategy worked last year for the GT2 winning Ferrari (Michelin team).