Valencia: Michelin preview

MICHELIN VALIDATES ITS SOLUTIONS FOR LE MANS At Monza, Michelin scored its first victory with the Peugeot team in the opening round of the 2007 Le Mans Series. The company is now preparing for a new challenge on the Valencia circuit in Spain. In...

MICHELIN VALIDATES ITS SOLUTIONS FOR LE MANS

At Monza, Michelin scored its first victory with the Peugeot team in the opening round of the 2007 Le Mans Series. The company is now preparing for a new challenge on the Valencia circuit in Spain. In 2006, Jarama, just outside Madrid, hosted the Spanish round of the championship and this year it is Valencia's turn on a circuit around 20 kms from the city centre. The drivers will have to cover the 4,005 km track almost 250 times before seeing the chequered flag.

Michelin's priority is to provide its teams in this event with its best products, as well as making headway in its tyre development programme for the Le Mans 24 Hours where the French company is again hoping to help its partner teams onto the topmost step of the rostrum.

Matthieu Bonardel, Michelin's Racing Programme Manager: "This is probably the least challenging circuit of the year for us, despite the lack of grip because of the very smooth asphalt. The profile is quite twisty and the low speeds mean it can be difficult to get the tyres up to their working temperature. The drivers consequently tend to prefer a soft compound, but traction performance is equally important. If it rains, the smooth surface makes Valencia as slippery as a skating rink."

The tyres: "We've validated the medium tyre in our range, which will do around 60% of the Le Mans 24 Hours."

Matthieu Bonardel: "Of course, the first round of the season on the Monza circuit was a great success for our partners, especially the new Peugeot 908 HDI FAP. We're very happy to have contributed to their victory by giving them tyres that were as quick as they were long-lasting; all the more so as it was the first time that they were used in racing conditions.

Tyrewise the race on the very demanding Monza layout enabled us to validate the basic behaviour characteristics of our products: lateral stability, high-speed safety, consistency and of course, performance.

As soon as we got back to Clermont-Ferrand we stripped down the tyres that had been used to find out exactly what stresses they had been subjected to as well as their state. The conclusion is positive, as we found nothing to worry about. The tyres were in good shape despite the high number of laps on certain sets. We still have a few points to sort out to arrive at Le Mans in a serene state of mind. In particular, we have to work on our tyres' behaviour under heavier downforce as well as on a less grippy track than Monza. We hope to have the answers after Valencia. As for rain tyres we've only done one test session on the Castellet circuit, but never in racing conditions. That's one of the areas we still have to work on before the 24 Hours.

We're happy with the results we've obtained after the first race, as the medium tyre we used at Monza is the one that'll do 60% of the Le Mans 24 Hours. The remaining 40% will be divided between hard rubber if it's very hot, and soft tyres for night racing. The medium tyre is the heart of our range and after winter development we had to validate it in a race. So we're feeling pretty reassured with this solution. It's a big step forward to have validated these tyres even if we've still got a lot on our hands in other areas."

The Michelin Energy Endurance Challenge

Michelin has created the Michelin Energy Endurance Challenge for the 2007 season with a view to rewarding the most fuel-efficient teams in all six rounds of the Le Mans Series and in the Le Mans 24 Hours. This challenge will use a specially-calculated formula known as the Energy Performance Index (EPI) which is based on the weight, fuel consumption and average speed of each team's cars during the race.

-credit: michelin

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Series European Le Mans