The 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours saw Toyota Gazoo Racing claim first and second places to clinch the 2018/2019 FIA World Endurance Championship title with Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima (Japan’s first ever FIA World Champion) and Fernando Alonso who steered the N°8 Toyota TS050-Hybrid to Michelin’s 22nd straight Le Mans victory on Sunday. The N°7 sister prototype of Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez was in front at the start of the final hour of the race when one of its tyres was damaged by debris picked up from the track, forcing Lopez to pit for a replacement set.

Toyota’s success is the fruit of a competitive package that placed the emphasis on performance, consistency and energy efficiency, to which Michelin contributed from the start to the end of the 24-hour race.

 

  • Performance: Mike Conway (Toyota N°7) posted a new race lap record for the Circuit de la Sarthe with a time of 3m17.297s on Lap 4 to improve on the previous benchmark (3m17.475s) set by André Lotterer (Audi R18 e-tron Quattro) in 2015.
  • Consistency: Toyota’s race plan was based on a strategy of quadruple stints of 11 laps each, which is equivalent to 600 kilometres on the same set of tyres. Fernando Alonso clocked his fastest race lap during one of his ‘fourth stints’ in the N°8 car.
  • Energy efficiency: Toyota consumed 35-percent less fuel than it did in 2012, the year it first contested the FIA WEC.

 

The overall top three at Le Mans was rounded out by the N°11 SMP Racing-run BR Engineering BR1-AER of Vitaly Petrov, Mikhaïl Aleshin and Stoffel Vandoorne who produced a combative performance and a pace that was not all that far off that of the Japanese hybrid prototypes.

Michelin’s involvement with the Le Mans 24 Hours dates back many, many years. It’s a race we have won 27 times in total, and that includes an ongoing run of 21 victories which we are hoping to extend further this time around, in addition to topping all four classes to crown what has been a memorable ‘Super Season’ for endurance racing fans.

 

At Michelin, this engagement doesn’t just concern motorsport. It also drives our everyday determination to satisfy our customers.

Michelin believes that all motorists have the right to benefit from the performance of their tyres from the moment they are fitted until the very end of their working life, just as racing drivers need to have confidence in the capacity of their tyres to deliver from the start to the finish of every race.

 

There is no reason why ordinary motorists should not be as demanding as racing drivers, and everyone deserves to be able to have confidence in the performance of their tyres throughout the latter’s life.

 

This is why Michelin welcomes the recent decisions of the European Parliament which has come out in favour of reinforcing safety standards by introducing
tests involving worn tyres from 2022.

 

In addition to offering enhanced safety, this move has the added benefit of reducing the impact on the environment and will avoid the early replacement
of tyres which currently results in an excessive consumption of raw materials.

 

Just as it has always done, Michelin continues to champion long-lasting performance, for racing and road tyres alike!

The 2019 Rally de Portugal saw victory go to Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT’s Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja in the N°8 Toyota Yaris WRC after an assertive run from the Estonians who led from the third to the last of the three-day event’s 20 stages.

 

Their talent naturally played a big part in their success, but so did the quality of their car and tyres. In addition to the speed and reliability of their Toyota Yaris WRC on the challenging Portuguese stages, Tänak and Järveoja were able to exploit their car’s potential to the full thanks to some judicious tyre choices, aided by the recommendations of Michelin’s tyre technicians, although the final choice is always down to the crew.

 

The 2019 Rally de Portugal lived up every bit to its reputation as a uniquely challenging, exacting fixture because of the wide variety of surface types it delivers, with stages that tend to be sandy and covered in loose stones first time through, before cutting up to expose embedded rocks on the repeat runs.

 

It was this cocktail that crews effectively faced on each of this week’s 80-kilometre competitive loops, while their task was made more challenging still by the week’s hot weather. As temperatures soared to more than 30°C at times, calling tyre choices correctly was therefore vital and Michelin’s WRC partners were able to choose between the hard-compound MICHELIN LTX Force H4 and the medium-compound MICHELIN LTX Force M6, with some crews occasionally preferring to run a combination of the two.

 

In addition to covering all the possible scenarios, these two options allowed the drivers to take the difference in grip levels between the morning and afternoon runs in their stride. Despite the variety of combinations that were chosen, however, the crews tended to favour carrying a single spare with a view to saving weight.

The abrasive track surface at the former Tempelhof Airport makes the Berlin E-Prix the most challenging round of the Formula E campaign as far as tyres are concerned. Michelin’s engineers consequently expected to see higher wear-rates in Germany than they do at the championship’s other venues but, in the end, the 22 drivers were swift to praise the resilience and consistency of the MICHELIN Pilot Sport. And, once again, not a single tyre-related incident was reported over the two days, despite the fact that only two sets of tyres are allocated to each car per meeting!

 

Instead of the familiar one-day format that has become the norm for rounds of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, the Berlin E-Prix’s programme featured two free-practice sessions on Friday, followed by Qualifying early on Saturday and the start of the race itself at 1pm local time. This revised timetable was adopted in order to avoid conflicting with the German Football Cup Final – also on Saturday – and resulted in the drivers jousting for pole position in the early-morning’s cooler conditions, with no prior running ahead of the session. Thankfully, they were able to count on the fast warm-up properties of the MICHELIN Pilot Sport which has carved out a reputation for delivering topflight performance time after time across a wide spectrum of conditions.

 

Friday’s Free Practice 1 saw DS Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne beat the existing lap record for the circuit just 20 minutes into the session, and the previous benchmark – posted in June 2018 – went on to be bettered by 20 of the 22 drivers. The fastest lap of the weekend was eventually clocked by André Lotterer who shaved more than two seconds off last year’s best effort, aided not only by the extra power provided by the latest Gen2 cars but also by their new MICHELIN Pilot Sport tyres.

The first Rally Chile to count towards the FIA World Rally Championship has been described as a blend of Australia, Finland and Wales by the players who were in South America for the landmark event. The country’s first WRC qualifier featured a broad spread of humidity levels and temperatures which had a big influence on car set-ups and, of course, tyre strategies.

 

The stages – the majority of which were located near the Pacific coast – threw up a wide variety of surface types, ranging from those with a sandy top-coating reminiscent of Rally Finland, to harder, stone- or gravel-littered roads. There was also a certain amount of mud due to the week’s showery weather. The morning starts tended to be chilly and the thermometer failed to climb much higher than 20°C during the afternoons. Fog was an issue at times, too.

 

To cover this assortment of conditions, Michelin provided its WRC partners with a choice between the medium-compound MICHELIN LTX Force M6 and the harder MICHELIN LTX Force H4, while those WRC2 runners competing on the French firm’s products could choose between the soft-compound MICHELIN Latitude Cross S80 and the hard MICHELIN Latitude Cross H90. Given the chilly weather and the variety of stage surfaces, the softer of the two options turned out to be the predominant fitment, although some drivers attempted different strategies at times, including Sébastien Ogier (Citroën C3 WRC) who left service for Saturday afternoon’s loop of three tests carrying three MICHELIN LTX Force H4s and two LTX Force M6s, while his rivals all opted for five LTX Force H4s.

The Monaco E-Prix has a habit of standing out as a landmark round of FIA Formula E Championship. Over and above the close ties the Principality has long enjoyed with world-class motorsport, it was the first European venue to host a round of the newly-created all-electric racing series on May 9, 2015, a race that will be remembered for the seven-car collision that occurred first time through Turn 1.

 

The e-prix was ultimately won by Sébastien Buemi in the colours of Renault-e.dams. Having previously taken the spoils in Punta de l’Este, Uruguay, the Swiss became the first driver to notch up two Formula E victories. Meanwhile, passionate spectators have been part of the Monaco experience from the start, attracting a turnout of around 17,000 for all the e-prix it has hosted to date. The support for the championship of S.A.S Prince Albert II of Monaco, along with his efforts to promote sustainable development and protection of the environment, are other factors that have influenced the staging of Formula E action in the Principality.

Both Spa-Francorchamps and the Nürburgring – familiarly known as the Green Hell – are historically-important circuits that the drivers adore. They are also very close, since they are separated by just 100 kilometres of dense forest that links the Belgian Ardennes with Germany’s Eifel Mountains. Their respective geographical locations make them especially prone to poor weather, as illustrated by today’s TOTAL 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps! Round 7 of the FIA WEC’s 2018/2019 Super Season effectively took place in wintry conditions and sustained spells of snow turned the famous Belgian venue into a White Hell for competitors!

But as the thermometer dipped to as low as 1°C, the performance and safety delivered by Michelin’s range of slicks and rain tyres enabled the spectators to enjoy a thrilling show.

When the TOTAL 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps kicked off at 1:30pm local time, the track was practically entirely dry, with the sun shining brightly and the track temperature standing at slightly more than 10°C, which prompted the teams to fit medium-compound slicks. The weather soon took a turn for the worse however and, just five minutes later, the sky was covered in thick cloud and icy rain began to fall, leading the drivers to pit for rain tyres. In the course of the next 20 minutes, the situation worsened as the rain changed to snow and the temperature fell to 1°C…

The 2019 Rally Argentina – the second gravel fixture of this year’s World Rally Championship, after Rally Mexico – produced yet another thrilling battle between the WRC’s main title contenders, as well as in the WRC2 class.

 

The South American round took place in the Villa Carlos Paz region (around 700 kilometres northwest of Buenos Aires) and kicked off in wet weather before the return of sunshine saw the thermometer climb to more than 20°C from Saturday afternoon onwards, including for Sunday’s high-altitude stages like Copina-El Cóndor. This Rally Argentina classic – which takes crews to an altitude of more than 2,100 metres above sea level – served as the Power Stage to wrap up the week’s action.

 

To cope with the demands made by Rally Argentina varied stages, Michelin provided its WRC partners with a choice between the medium-compound MICHELIN LTX Force M6 and the harder MICHELIN LTX Force H4, while its WRC2 runners were able to opt for either the MICHELIN Latitude Cross S80 (soft) or the MICHELIN Latitude Cross H90 (hard). In both classes, the softer alternative (LTX Force M6 and Latitude Cross S80) proved the chief choice practically throughout as the drivers took advantage of its strong casing and grip performance to entertain the huge crowds despite the weekend’s hostile conditions.

Fickle weather continued to be a hallmark of the 2018/2019 ABB FIA Formula E Championship when much of Saturday afternoon’s Paris E-Prix was affected by high winds and heavy showers. Drivers even faced a spell of hailstorms for the first time in the championship’s history, which made the French clash even more complex for the teams who had to keep adjusting the set-up of their respective cars as a function of the shifting conditions and their drivers’ racing styles.
Big temperature variations also played a big role in the streets of Paris, since the thermometer climbed from just a few degrees early in the morning to almost 15°C for the start of the race (track temperature: 23°C), before dropping to around 10°C again when rain swept over the French capital just 15 minutes into the e-prix.

 

Despite the rapidly-changing weather, the drivers were able to count on the latest-generation MICHELIN Pilot Sport which has repeatedly showcased its remarkable versatility since the start of Formula E’s ‘Season 5’ by providing competitive performance across an exceptionally broad spectrum of conditions.

The 2019 Rome E-Prix (Saturday, April 13) took place in relatively cool but globally dry conditions after rain swept over the Italian capital during both the pole position shoot-out and the build-up to the start of the race itself. The 2.85-kilometre, 21-turn circuit, which visits the city’s EUR business district, is a big favourite with the drivers who enjoy its hilly course and technical challenge.

 

In spite of the poor weather, the teams and drivers succeeded in showcasing the potential of not only their latest-generation ‘Gen2’ cars but also their specifically-developed Michelin tyres which have contributed significantly to the performance gain seen in the championship this season.

 

This improvement was roundly illustrated in Rome by the fastest race lap which was posted by Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah) whose effort of 1m29.370s amply beat the 1m35.467s clocked by Félix Rosenqvist (Mahindra) in 2018. That’s the biggest improvement ever seen at the same circuit since the championship’s launch in September 2014 and adds to the numerous records already established by the MICHELIN Pilot Sport in the frequently extreme conditions encountered since the beginning of the 2018/2019 campaign.

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