Michelin prepares for tire war

(Greenville, S.C.) - After scoring its first-ever overall victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona and its second consecutive victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring earlier this year, Michelin is preparing to take on its competitors to defend its 1999 ...

(Greenville, S.C.) - After scoring its first-ever overall victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona and its second consecutive victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring earlier this year, Michelin is preparing to take on its competitors to defend its 1999 victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The 2000 race will be held in France on June 17-18.

This year, Le Mans will feature an impressive array of cars from around the world, including Audi, Mopar, Panoz, Chrysler Viper, Porsche, Cadillac, Corvette and others. The event will also feature competition from several tire manufacturers, including Michelin, Avon, Dunlop, Goodyear, Pirelli and Yokahoma.

Despite other races being held on the same weekend (the FedEx Championship Series is in Detroit, the Indy Racing Northern Light Series is in Colorado, NASCAR Winston Cup is in Pocono and Formula One is in Montreal), Le Mans is the only major race to feature competition among tire manufacturers.

"Le Mans is special for many reasons," said Herb Johnson, director of motorsports for Michelin North America. "One of those reasons is that it offers Michelin the opportunity to go head-to-head with our competitors. Endurance racing at Le Mans is a good way to prove technology and reliability not only to the racing world, but more importantly to consumers."

Michelin has scored five of the last eight overall wins at Le Mans, including the two most recent (with Porsche in 1998 and BMW in 1999). In 1999 at Le Mans, Michelin cars qualified on the pole, led the most laps, recorded the fastest race lap and swept the top four positions. Michelin also won the GTS category at Le Mans the past two years with Chrysler Viper.

In 2000, Michelin tires will be on many of the overall and class favorites.

"Obviously, you need to have great teams in order to win Le Mans," said Johnson. "Many of the best teams have chosen to run on Michelin tires. We will be giving each of our teams the best tires, the best technology and the best support that we can."

In the prototype category, Michelin tires will be fitted on the factory-supported Audi R8s, which won the 12 Hours of Sebring earlier this year. Michelin tires will also be featured on the factory Panoz Spyders, one of which will be driven by legend Mario Andretti; the new Mopar entries from Team Oreca; the Olive Garden Lola prepared by Team Rafanelli; a pair of Panoz Spyders from Team Dragon; and a Courage Peugeot from Pescarolo Sport. Michelin tires will also be on two Reynard VWs and two WR Peugeot LMP 675 category cars.

In the GTS category, a trio of defending Le Mans winning Chrysler Vipers from Team Oreca will be fitted with Michelin tires, as will Vipers from Team Goh and Carsport Holland.

In the GT category, Dick Barbour Racing will field a Porsche GT3R on Michelin tires as will Michael Colucci Racing and Larbre Competition. The Barbour team has won the first three American Le Mans Series races in 2000.

Michelin manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks and the space shuttle. Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America (www.michelin.com) employs 27,000 and operates 23 plants in 21 locations.

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Mario Andretti , Dick Barbour
Teams Larbre Competition