Michelin logistics for the Le Mans 24 Hours 8000 TYRES UNDER ONE ROOF! The Le Mans 24 Hours is a priority fixture for Michelin. This year again, a fleet of semi-trailers will haul some 8,000 tyres to the French circuit. The final tyres come...
Michelin logistics for the Le Mans 24 Hours
8000 TYRES UNDER ONE ROOF!
The Le Mans 24 Hours is a priority fixture for Michelin. This year again, a fleet of semi-trailers will haul some 8,000 tyres to the French circuit. The final tyres come off the production line at the beginning of June before being trucked to La Sarthe early in race week.
This year, Michelin will equip more than forty cars. "You need around thirty sets of slicks per car, plus intermediate and rain tyres" says Gerard Bombled, Michelin Competition's Endurance Programme Operations Manager. "In addition to the tyres, we also take all the tyre fitting equipment we need plus mobile offices and a catering truck for the staff."
A Michelin technician is appointed to work with each of the firm's partner -teams throughout the Le Mans 24 Hours. That person may even work with that team all year round if it takes part in one of the various international championships in which Michelin competes (e.g., ALMS, Le Mans Series). However, unless safety is at stake, the final choice of what product to fit is never down to the Michelin technicians. Their role is purely of an advisory nature, although in the majority of cases their advice is followed.
The Michelin compound
"In 2008, we aren't going to change anything compared to 2007: we are once again going to mount our giant 800 sq. metre marquee", explains Jose De Pinho, Logistics Manager. Meanwhile, four fitting bays - one per category - are situated in the compound to facilitate the constant toing and froing of Michelin's partner-teams' tyre -men. In each bay, the fitting and balancing machines are laid out to work on either front or rear tyres.
Around the clock
The first tyres go on rims on the Wednesday morning in time for the evening's first qualifying run, from 7pm until midnight, the same time slot also applying for Thursday's second session."Seven or eight sets of tyres per car are mounted on rims for qualifying before coming off again afterwards. The race tyres are fitted on the Friday. Once the race starts, tyres are fitted as a function of the chits that the technicians in the pit-lane write out." Every two hours or so, each car's tyre -man comes to pick-up the valuable tyres prepared for his crew. These are then pre-heated in racks to get them up to a pre-defined temperature just before they take to the track for a run of up to 500km at an average speed of 215kph!
The team is split into two groups, each working night-time shifts of four hours. Between 10pm Saturday and 6am the following morning, the 'A' team takes a four -hour nap in the trucks while the 'B' team looks after the work, and vice-versa. " We hire air-conditioned mobile dormitories which we park up in the Michelin compound" points out Jose De Pinho. "It's a bit of a luxury, but in this way everybody is on hand at all times-- just in case!"