Le Mans, France - Call this a perfect 10! After taking nine of the top ten spots in last year's 24 hours of Le Mans, Michelin teams did Bibendum one better, sweeping the top ten spots and winning all four classes at the 71st (2003) running of the...
Le Mans, France - Call this a perfect 10! After taking nine of the top ten spots in last year's 24 hours of Le Mans, Michelin teams did Bibendum one better, sweeping the top ten spots and winning all four classes at the 71st (2003) running of the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. The victory, Michelin's sixth consecutive overall race win at Le Mans, presented a unique challenge.
Doing more with less is always a challenge, but the winning Bentley Speed 8 car #7 and runner-up #8 Bentley proved that you can take away some tire size, but you can't take away the Michelin advantage. Required to race on a tire two inches narrower than the traditional LMP 900 class prototypes to offset the aerodynamic advantage of their enclosed cockpit, Bentley switched to Michelin last September.
The challenge for Michelin designers and engineers was to produce a tire that offered the same outstanding performance, consistency and extended wear that the wider Michelin tires provide the LMP 900 prototypes, including the triple defending Le Mans champion Audi teams.
Upon delivery of the current Bentley Speed 8 cars in February, Michelin engineers produced a new generation of tires in March that were tested at Sebring. Those designs were refined for Le Mans where they have now exceeded the challenge. Winning drivers Rinaldo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Guy Smith were able to quadruple stint (four fuel loads or over three consecutive hours of green flag, daylight racing) on a single set of Michelin tires.
Michelin teams represented slightly over half (27) of the 50 car field, but swept the top ten positions, claiming four class victories despite competition from Goodyear, Pirelli, Dunlop and Yokohama. In fact, Michelin teams held the top ten spots for all 24 hourly reports.
Ferrari Takes GTS Victory Michelin reclaimed the top of the podium in GTS class as the pole winning Michelin-fitted #88 Veloqx Prodrive Ferrari 550 driven by Tomas Enge, Jamie Davies and Peter Kox sped to the GTS victory with a 10-lap margin over the defending champion Corvettes.
Alex Job White Lightning Porsche Takes GT Win Michelin successfully defended its GT Class honors as the American based Alex Job/White Lightning Porsche 911 driven by Lucas Luhr, Sascha Maassen and Emmanuel Collard took the victory over the Michelin-fitted Orbit Racing Porsche.
LMP 675 Prototype, Too! Although Michelin fitted only three cars in the LMP 675 class, Bibendum again fitted the winner as the #29 Reynard Lehmann of team Noel del Bello claimed their second consecutive Le Mans victory.
Michelin Highlights of the 71st running (2003) of the 24 Hours of Le Mans:
* A sixth consecutive overall Michelin victory at Le Mans
* Leading all 377 laps of the race
* Taking all ten of the top ten positions in the race.
* A Michelin sweep of the top eleven positions in qualifying
* Winning the pole in three classes.
* Winning All Four Classes
* Taking the Overall Victory and Winning the GTP class with the Bentley Speed 8
* Completing the podium with the LMP 900 class Champion Audi R8
* Winning the GTS class with the Prodrive Ferrari 550
* Winning the GT Class with the Alex Job/White Lightning Porsche 911
* Winning the LMP 675 Class with the Del Bello Noel Reynard