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Michelin shoots for sixth consecutive Le Mans victory Bibendum teams dominate 24 Hours of Le Mans pre-qualifying The cars are the stars, but tires are a big part of the race story at Le Mans. The world's premier sports car event is a...

Michelin shoots for sixth consecutive Le Mans victory
Bibendum teams dominate 24 Hours of Le Mans pre-qualifying

The cars are the stars, but tires are a big part of the race story at Le Mans. The world's premier sports car event is a comprehensive test of everything and anything. Drivers, cars, technology, handling, endurance and character all come under heavy pressure from the competition, the elements and the storied track itself. Teams' year-long preparation will be tested June 14 to 15, 2003, at the fabled 24 Hours of Le Mans at the Circuit de La Sarthe in France.

"Competing at Le Mans gives Michelin a great showcase for the grip, consistency and durability of our tires," said Amanda Head, Michelin Motorsports marketing manager. "Michelin goes head-to-head with competitors in order to prove our products' performance to the racing world and consumers."

"We are pleased that so many of the best teams at Le Mans have chosen Michelin tires. We race to win and are committed to providing our teams the best tires, the best technology and the best support."

This year, Le Mans features an impressive array of cars from around the world, including Audi, Riley & Scott, Panoz, Bentley, Reynard, Ferrari, Viper, Corvette, Saleen, Porsche and others. The event will also feature competition among several tire manufacturers, including Michelin, Avon, Dunlop, Goodyear, Pirelli and Yokahoma.

During the pre-qualifying sessions in early May, Michelin-fitted teams dominated by taking the top 11 spots and leading the way in four of the five classes.

* Team Bentley had the fastest time overall and in the LMGTP class.

* Audi Sport Japan turned in the fastest time in the LMP900 class.

* In the GTS category, a trio of Michelin-fitted Ferrari 550 Maranellos swept the top three spots, with Veloqx ProDrive taking the top two spots ahead of Luc Alphand's entry.

* In the GT class, defending champion, The Racer's Group, picked up where it left off last year by leading a group of three Michelin-fitted Porsche teams to the fastest times.For 2003, Michelin will be the tire technology partner for 27 of the 56 starters and reserves.

Michelin tires will be fitted on 11 of the 16 cars in the LMP900 prototype category including entries from the American teams Riley & Scott, Champion and JML Team Panoz as well as the international teams Team Goh, Audi Sport UK, Courage, Racing Holland and Pescarolo Sport teams.

Pre-race favorite, Team Bentley, will also ride on Michelins in the LM-GTP category.

In the quick, but smaller LMP675 class, Michelin is fitted aboard the defending class champion Noel del Bello Reynard, WR/Peugeots and a Courage C65 Judd.

In the production based GTS class, Michelin is fitted on three Ferrari 550s, two from Veloqx Pro Drive and one from Luc Alphand as well as the independently entered Viper GT from the French Larbre team. The ProDrive Ferrari team won the GTS pole and led the early hours of the 2002 race.

Meanwhile, in the GT class, Michelin has a trio of American-based Porsche entries, including Alex Job Racing, Orbit Racing and the defending class champion, the factory-assisted Porsche GT3 from the Racers Group. T2M Motorsport, a new German-based team, will compete with a Porsche. Finally, Risi Competizione has entered two Michelin-shod Ferrari 360s into the Porsche-dominated class.

Michelin has scored eight of the last 11 overall wins at Le Mans, including five in a row since 1998. In 2002, Michelin cars swept the podium with Audi, while also placing nine cars in the top-ten. Michelin-shod cars took the top ten positions in qualifying one year ago as well as securing the pole in all four classes in which it entered (LMP900, LMP675, GTS, GT). Michelin led all 375 laps and also won the LMP675 and GT classes last year.

Michelin manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks, motorcycles and the space shuttle. The company also publishes travel guides, maps and atlases covering Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America Inc. (www.michelinman.com) employs 24,640 and operates 22 plants in 18 locations.

-michelin-

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Luc Alphand , Noel del Bello , Alex Job
Teams Risi Competizione , Alex Job Racing