Sears Point: Michelin preview

Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma July 25-27, 2003 Beautiful, sunny, clear blue Northern California skies will provide the ideal conditions for Michelin teams competing at this weekend's Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma. Unless, of course, it suddenly...

Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma July 25-27, 2003

Beautiful, sunny, clear blue Northern California skies will provide the ideal conditions for Michelin teams competing at this weekend's Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma. Unless, of course, it suddenly becomes a major downpour producing heavy wet track conditions, which would be exactly what happened in May 2002, at the last ALMS race at Infineon.

Either a sun-soaked dry track or a full wet circuit will be fine for Michelin teams. Michelin teams typically enjoy the competitive advantage of extended wear, permitting double-stints in dry conditions and exceptional grip even in the hottest, slickest track conditions. But it is in the wet that Michelin teams truly rise to the challenge, as was evident at the 2002 ALMS event at Infineon. Pulling away from the field at a rate of nearly five seconds per lap, the race was won by the front-engined Panoz roadster.

"A dry race is a lot more fun for the fans, especially at a beautiful track like Infineon Raceway," said Amanda Head, Michelin motorsports marketing manager. "But our engineers and tire designers love to race in the wet. The performance differences last year were amazing and our guys were justifiably proud of the results." This year's race returns to the event's traditional late July timeframe where the prospects are for hot dry weather. "Either way, wet or dry, we will try to be ready to help our Michelin teams succeed."

Handling A Priority - The 2.5-mile, 12-turn Infineon Raceway is one of the most challenging and demanding on the American Le Mans Series. Known for blind turns and elevation changes, the narrow and unforgiving track requires a driver's full concentration. These elevation changes and the tight, off-camber turns make handling even more critical than horsepower at Infineon Raceway. Tires are a key component of having a car that handles well. Tires must not only provide maximum grip in the corners, they must also be consistent and durable so that the driver can always know exactly how hard he can push the car lap after lap.

Michelin Rides with Lance Armstrong - Michelin has a key interest on what will take place across the countryside and streets of France this week during the final stages of the Tour de France. Lance Armstrong has once again chosen to ride on Michelin bicycle tires as he attempts to win his fifth consecutive Tour de France. Armstrong currently sits atop the standings and seeks to tie the record set by Miguel Indurain of five consecutive wins. The final stage is scheduled for this Sunday, July 27, when the competitors finish along the Champs Elysees in Paris.

Last Year at Infineon - Michelin dominated the field and swept the podium as David Brabham and Jan Magnussen piloted their Panoz LMP Roadster to victory over Champion Audi pilots Johnny Herbert and Tom Kristensen. Bryan Herta and Bill Auberlen rounded out the podium, driving the other Michelin-fitted Panoz LMP Roadster. In addition, Michelin-shod Porsche entries swept the podium in the GT class with Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen taking the victory for Alex Job Racing. The Racers' Group drivers, Kevin Buckler and Marino Franchitti, finished second while the other Alex Job Racing team with Timo Bernhard and Jorg Bergmeister finished third.

Michelin Heads West with Talented Line-Up - Fresh off their first career ALMS victory, Champion Racing, headlines the 17 cars that will ride on Michelin tires at Infineon Raceway. In the prototype category, besides Champion, Michelin-shod entries include Joest Racing, JML Team Panoz and Doran Lista Racing. Veloqx ProDrive will field a pair of Ferrari 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, White Lightning/Petersen Motorsports and J-3 Racing. Risi Competizione rounds out the GT class with their Ferrari 360 Modena.

Michelin Laps Field - Despite competition from five other tire companies, Michelin teams enter this weekend's Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma having led 7,032 of the 7,235 laps (97 percent) in ALMS competition since the series began in 1999. Michelin also has won 39 of 40 races in ALMS history.

Michelin Sits Atop ALMS Tire Championship - Michelin seeks its fifth consecutive ALMS Tire Championship for the top LMP900 category and its fourth consecutive ALMS Tire Championship for the GT category in 2003. Unlike other forms of motorsports which run a single "spec tire", the ALMS enjoys a fierce battle among tire companies including Michelin, Goodyear, Dunlop, Yokohama, Pirelli and Avon. Michelin currently leads the ALMS Tire Championship with 46 points over Dunlop (14 points) and Goodyear (8 points) in the LMP900 category. Michelin has 46 points in the GT category, resulting from two wins from the Alex Job Porsche team. Their closest pursuers are Yokohama (27), Pirelli (22) and Dunlop (10).

Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma Live on NBC - The Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma will be aired live at 4:00 p.m. ET, July 27, on NBC.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Johnny Herbert , David Brabham , Jan Magnussen , Bryan Herta , Bill Auberlen , Sascha Maassen , Lucas Luhr , Kevin Buckler , Timo Bernhard , Marino Franchitti , Alex Job
Teams Alex Job Racing