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Michelin outlines conditions for future GT500 return

Michelin has outlined its conditions for a future return to SUPER GT's top GT500 class in the future following its shock decision to withdraw from the category.

Michelin Tyre

The French tyre maker, which currently supplies Nissan's two works-run NISMO and NDDP Racing entries, announced back in May that the current season will be its last in GT500, ending an unbroken run of participation dating back to 2009.

It is set to leave Bridgestone, Yokohama and Dunlop (Sumitomo) as the remaining participants in SUPER GT's tyre war.

Michelin's main motivation for its involvement in GT500 had always been to develop tyres for other series, including the World Endurance Championship, but the shift towards Hypercar regulations and other rule changes lessened the relevance of the category as a 'laboratory'.

Matthieu Bonardel, Michelin's motorsport director, explained that the Japanese championship will have to consider a major shift in technical or sporting regulations to entice the company back in future.

"Japan is a little bit isolated," Bornadel told Motorsport.com. "The main place to apply what we learned in GT500 was in the WEC. But the LMP1 changed to Hypercar, and now we have a control tyre, so there is no competitor.

"Also, the orientation is now not towards just being the fastest; we are trying to introduce more sustainable materials. And then we have to ask, to what extent does GT500 support us in this? The answer is zero.

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"To spend money just to beat Bridgestone, Yokohama… it’s fun, but it doesn’t have much value. We are not going to sell more tyres, because Japan is not a big market for us, and we won’t learn things we can use in endurance racing.

"If they had a Hypercar tyre war in Japan, it would make sense. But sprint racing with Class One cars, with no hybrid… the connection is broken. 

"We will be more than happy to come back in the future if this connection is re-established one way or another. It depends on how the regulations will evolve in the future. It doesn’t appeal right now, unfortunately, but maybe in five years…"

 

SUPER GT has already started exploring the possibility of sharing its next-generation GT500 regulations with other series worldwide, including the DTM, with the objective of introducing them in 2028 or '29.

"It could be, especially if the car weight is closer to Hypercar," replied Bornadel when asked if a 'New Class One' could be of interest to Michelin. "It would be most simple if they just replaced Class One with Hypercar!

"But what would be really interesting for us would be to use the same tyre for the whole race, instead of changing tyres every stint. Then, all of a sudden, you are talking about endurance."

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Bornadel added that SUPER GT would also hold more appeal from a pure marketing standpoint if the series was to add races outside of Japan to its schedule. The series has run exclusively in Japan since 2020.

"If they were having a race in China, or India… these are huge markets for Michelin," Bornadel said. "The communication impact would be much bigger."

"If it was becoming more of a pan-Asian championship it would be good, but it’s still a bit too local."

Michelin has yet to announced its plans for the GT300 class, where it currently only supplies a single car in the form of the Team Studie BMW M4 GT3.

"We want to stay in GT300 but with more teams," clarified Bornadel. "With GT3 cars, there is a connection to the rest of the world. But we want more cars."

 

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