(Sebring, Fla.)--- Michelin was center-stage, or rather center podium today for the fourth consecutive year, as a record crowd, high temperatures and strong competition from a deep field combined for a vintage 50th anniversary race at the 12 Hours...
(Sebring, Fla.)--- Michelin was center-stage, or rather center podium today for the fourth consecutive year, as a record crowd, high temperatures and strong competition from a deep field combined for a vintage 50th anniversary race at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Michelin fitted 20 of the 60 cars starting the 2002 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season opening race and came out the big winner over Goodyear, Pirelli, Dunlop, Yokohama and Avon.
Taking the overall race win and first in the high powered P900 class was the Michelin shod #2 Audi Sport Audi R8 driven by Rinaldo Capello; Johnny Herbert and Christian Pescatori. The factory Audi team withstood a furious late race charge by the #38 Champion Audi R8 ADT driven by Andy Wallace; Jan Lammers and Stefan Johansson.
The defending race and series champion Audi team surprised fans and press alike by triple stinting (not changing) tires at the opening of the race with #2 driver Rinaldo Capello uncorking a fast lap of 1 minute 49 seconds in 95 degree heat (track temperature 118 degrees) on race tires that were nearly 250 miles old. That speed would nearly matched his qualifying lap and would have earned a front row starting spot
GT Class Victory for Michelin fitted Porsche: Taking the victory in the GT class was defending Sebring champion #23 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen. The victory marked Luhr's third consecutive GT win at Sebring.
P675 Class Runner-Up A Volkswagen powered Reynard driven by Americans s Ryan, Jeff and Jeffrey Jones finished second in the emerging Prototype s 675 clas s
GTS Class Podium Finishing a surprising third place was a #86 Chrysler Viper GTS-R driven by Jean Luc Chereau; Christophe Bouchut and Vincent Vosse
"This was a great way to start our ALMS season," said Herb Johnson, Michelin North America's Director of Motorsports. "One of the highlights of the race for Michelin was to see so many of our teams perform so well under very hot conditions. The race was run at a very aggressive pace and the cars and drivers battled the heat and each other every inch of the way with laps times remaining very strong for the entire race."
Michelin Highlights Included:
* Earning the front row in qualifying with the #1 Audi R8 (Biela) and #2 Audi R8 (Capello).Scoring the GT Class Pole with the #22 Alex Job Porsche 911 GT3 RS (Maassen).
* Extending Michelin's American Le Mans Series (ALMS) overall race victory string to 27 consecutive races and 28 wins in the 29 races in ALMS history
* Posting a milestone 5,000th lap led in ALMS competition.
* Michelin cars led all 346 laps of the race, running their streak of ALMS laps led to run Michelin's total to 5,157 of the 5,355 laps in ALMS history.