The two races of the 2019/2020 ABB FIA Formula E Championship’s opening meeting in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, saw Michelin deliver another demonstration of the overall performance of the MICHELIN Pilot Sport which made its debut in the series in 2018/2019. This season sees the MICHELIN Pilot Sport become the first connected tyre to be used in motor racing thanks to Michelin Track Connect which features a sensor positioned inside the cover.

 

The weekend in Saudi Arabia effectively saw Michelin inaugurated a new system to monitor the tyre pressures ran by the championship’s all-electric single-seater race cars. Michelin Track Connect for Formula E allows tyre pressures to be monitored automatically and reliably – whether hot or cold. This new solution addresses a demand expressed by motorsport’s governing body, the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile), which has incorporated its use into Formula E’s regulations, as well as by the teams and the championship’s promoter. Michelin Track Connect for Formula E uses a Michelin-designed and developed sensor located in a specific housing inside the MICHELIN Pilot Sport tyres that feature in the series. The data it collects is transmitted in encrypted form to the FIA and Michelin, who are the only recipients. Not only does this ensure that the information remains confidential, but it also allows the FIA to check minimum tyre pressures are adhered to. In addition to saving time, it is additional reassurance for the teams and helps to streamline the running of race days. The two e-prix in Diriyah marked the technology’s first competitive outing.

Group Michelin uses Formula E as a laboratory to foster innovation that will help it to achieve its sustainable mobility-related objectives in the interests of all, namely enhanced safety, increasingly sustainable materials, the expansion of electric mobility and accelerated connected mobility.

 

Michelin Track Connect: a connected solution that fits perfectly with Formula E’s avant-garde positioning.

 

The MICHELIN Pilot Sport is the third-generation of the Michelin tyre developed especially for Formula E.

 

For the first time, Formula E grids will comprise 12 teams and 24 drivers.

 

The calendar of Formula E’s Season 6 will run from November 2019 to July 2020, with a schedule of 14 races at 12 different venues.

 

Michelin is also a partner of the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy for the second season running.

As teams arrived in New South Wales earlier this week for the 2019 Rally Australia, the stakes were different to those that were at play when the same fixture was the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship’s curtain-closer. At the same time last year, both the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ titles were still up for grabs, with M-Sport’s Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC, now Citroën C3 WRC) just three points clear of Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC). The French pair went on to claim their sixth straight crown…

This season, Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) wrapped up the Drivers’ fight in Spain, on October 27, which meant all eyes in Australia were going to be on the battle for the top Manufacturers’ prize between Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT and Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT who were split by 18 points with 43 available.

 

Due to the wildfires that have devastated large swathes of Australian bush and forest in recent days, however, that battle failed to materialise and the classification remained as it stood before the trip out to the southern hemisphere. The catastrophic circumstances initially prompted the organisers to reduce its originally-planned route (1,084km, including 324.53km against-the-clock) by two-thirds. But as the situation in the Coffs Harbour region worsened, they had no choice but to cancel their event altogether for obvious safety reasons. Following this decision, the WRC promoter channelled its resources into assisting the local firefighters and providing what help it could to the local population.

Round 3 of the 2019/2020 FIA World Rally Championship was won by the N°1 Rebellion R13 of Bruno Senna/Gustavo Menezes/Norman Nato who started China’s round of the FIA WEC from pole position after topping Saturday’s qualifying on Michelin rubber. Second and third were the similarly Michelin-equipped N°8 and N°7 Toyota TS050 Hybrids in the hands of Mike Conway/Kamui Kobayashi/Jose María López and Sébastien Buemi/Kazuki Nakajima/Brendon Hartley respectively.

 

In contrast, the French firm’s LMP2 partners were down on luck in Shanghai. The class’s pole-winning N°42 ORECA 07-Gibson of Cool Racing, Lapierre/Borga/Coigny was halted by Race Control after suffering an electronics problem, while the N°22 United Autosports car of Hanson/Albuquerque/Di Resta lost power after debris got blocked in the air intake of its engine, eliminating it from the scrap for victory. Despite an unscheduled pit stop to cure the problem on Lap 8, it still completed the distance in third place – just 21 seconds short of the winner – to showcase the potential of its Michelin rubber both in qualifying and on race day.

 

The LMGTE Pro class was topped by the N°92 Porsche 911 RSR of Christensen/Estre, ahead of Bruni/Lietz’s N°91 sister car and Aston Martin Racing’s N°97 Vantage AMR (Lynn/Martin). The LM GTE Am order was topped by the N°90 TF Sport-run Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Eastwood/Yoluc/Adam, ahead of the N°57 Porsche 911 RSR (PROJECT 1, Keating/Ten Voorde/Bleekemolen) and the Aston Martin Racing-tended N°98 Vantage AMR (Dalla Lana/Turner/Gunn). All six cars were equipped with Michelin tyres.

 

As was the case at the season’s curtain raiser at Silverstone, Great Britain, the race’s four-hour format (instead of six hours, as in 2018/2019) kept spectators entertained as the teams opted for a variety of different strategies.

 

The 5.451-kilometre Shanghai International Circuit is notoriously hard on tyres due in part to its layout which features a combination of short straights, slow turns and two fast sections which result in different aerodynamic constraints, with tyres having to adjust to the constantly changing downforce levels. The surface, meanwhile, is one of the most abrasive of the championship.

Second place on the 2019 RallyRACC Catalunya-Rally de España – which Michelin won for the 19th time with Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC) – sufficed for Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) to claim the FIA World Rally Championship’s Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ crowns for the first time. The smartly-paced performance of the 32-year old Estonians was rewarded when they sealed the title by winning the Power Stage which promoted them to second place and earned them sufficient points to settle the chase, aided by their maturity which has flourished during their time with Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT.
As the first non-Frenchman to win the Drivers’ championship since 2003, Tänak has stemmed a long sequence of 15 years dominated by Sébastien Loeb (nine titles) and Sébastien Ogier (six).
The 2019 season has seen Tänak and Järveoja showcase their all-round skills with victories on events as contrasting as Sweden, Chile, Argentina, Finland, Germany and Wales, and the same versatility helped them to secure the result they were targeting in Spain where Leg 1 featured gravel stages before a switch to asphalt for Days 2 and 3.
Although Toyota won the Manufacturers’ title in 2018, the last crew to claim the Drivers’ crown in one of its cars were Frenchmen Didier Auriol and Bernard Occelli in 1994 in a Celica Turbo 4WD which, like today’s Yaris WRC, was equipped with Michelin tyres.

Round 2 of the 2019/2020 FIA World Endurance Championship – the competition’s 60th fixture since its creation in 2012 – lived up every bit to its promise as changeable weather forced the teams to consider flexible strategies.

 

Toyota Gazoo Racing won its home FIA WEC race for the seventh time thanks to the N°8 TS050 Hybrid of Kazuki Nakajima/Sébastien Buemi/Brendon Hartley which crossed the line ahead of the Japanese outfit’s N°7 sister car (Kamui Kobayashi/Mike Conway/José María López). The N°1 Rebellion Racing (Gustavo Menezes/Bruno Senna/Norman Nato) made it an all-Michelin podium.

 

After monopolising the top two places in qualifying, with pole position going to the N°8 prototype, the two Japanese cars dominated at the front of field, even when rain swept over Fuji Speedway shortly before the race’s midpoint.

 

The order at the sharp end wasn’t affected by this shower, however, but it did evolve in LM P2 thanks to an inspired drive on Michelin slicks by Racing Team Nederland’s Nick de Vries who posted a sequence of quick laps in the N°29 ORECA that occasionally outpaced those of the LM P1 runners, allowing him climb from third to first place and lay the foundations for another Michelin victory in LM P2 in which the French firm faces competition from a rival tyre manufacturer.

 

Aston Martins finished on top in both LM GTE classes where all the teams compete on Michelin rubber. The N°95 Vantage of Thim/Sørensen took the spoils for Aston Martin Racing in the Pro battle, while the similar, TF Sport-tended N°90 car of Yolluc/Eastwood/Adam was the first Am contender past the chequered flag.

Pre-start forecasts offered little hope of sunshine during this year’s Wales Rally GB and, although the service park in Llandudno didn’t see much rain up until Saturday morning, it was a very different picture out in the forests where the conditions proved extremely wet and foggy, even for the second passes, while temperatures ranged from 6°C and 14°C.

This adverse weather resulted in the North Wales stages becoming coated in a treacherously slippery film of dirt which meant grip was at a premium, yet the competitive performance provided by the soft-compound LTX Force S6 enabled Michelin’s partners to push safely and provide spectators with a spectacular show.
As the rally progressed, crews were forced to manage their respective tyre allocations, and so we saw a variety of strategies being implemented, with the medium-compound MICHELIN LTX Force M6 emerging as the most frequently preferred option. It allowed the WRC runners to benefit from its outstanding versatility and efficient balance between grip, resistance to wear, sidewall strength and outright performance.

Since Rally Turkey’s return to the FIA World Rally Championship calendar in 2018, the event has stood out as the toughest dirt clash of the campaign. Despite its move to the pleasant seaside resort of Marmaris on the country’s southwest coast, and in contrast to the idyllic views spectators enjoyed from the mountain stages that looked out over the Mediterranean, this year’s itinerary turned out to be a punishing test for the cars and crews alike due an awesome cocktail of potholes, huge rocks and sharp stones that were an additional test for tyres.

Michelin’s latest range of endurance racing tyres contributed to a long list of new records when 2019/2020 FIA WEC action kicked off with the 4 Hours of Silverstone. The British round was won by the N°7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid (Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez) which also topped Saturday’s qualifying when Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi posted an average lap time of 1m36.015s – a gain of eight-tenths of a second over 2018’s pole-winning effort in comparable conditions. However, the improvement in lap times was most notable in LMP2 which saw the N°29 Racing Team Nederland Oreca 07-Gibson of Van Eerd/Van der Garde/Van Uitert clock a 1m40.948s in qualifying, which was practically four seconds quicker than the best time posted in 2018 by the similar, TDS Racing-run car.

 

Race lap records also tumbled and Toyota’s Mike Conway secured the afternoon’s fastest lap with a 1m37.289s, almost 2.3 seconds faster than Kamui Kobayashi’s benchmark in 2018 in the same car.

 

It is worth recalling that the British track was resurfaced prior to last season’s 6 Hours of Silverstone and has since been resurfaced again, leading to greater consistency.

 

The 2019/2020 campaign’s opener was Michelin’s first opportunity to evaluate its latest range of endurance racing tyres in race conditions. Working in close collaboration with the manufacturers and teams involved in the FIA WEC, Michelin Motorsport’s engineers have sought to match the recent progress made by the cars, while also addressing the constraints associated with the championship’s new-look calendar.

The 2019 Rally Finland was won by Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja in their Michelin-equipped Toyota Yaris WRC. The Estonian pair finished clear of Finns Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (2nd, Citroën C3 WRC) and Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (3rd, Toyota Yaris WRC) who made it an all-Michelin top three. These three crews emerged as the week’s chief protagonists and the gaps amongst the front-runners remained small from start to finish.

 

Indeed, after the thirteenth of the event’s 23 special stages, the top three was blanketed by just six-tenths of a second, an eloquent sign of their outstanding consistency and precision given that they no longer have knowledge of their rivals’ split times.

 

Rallying has never been an exact science. Tenths of a second, and even whole seconds can be squandered in an instant but the WRC stars succeeded in pushing to the limit in Finland from first to the very last stage. In addition to the crews’ perfectly set-up cars, their work during pre-event testing and their knowledge of the stages, Michelin played a key role in this exceptional performance package by providing tyres whose consistency and versatility the drivers knew they could count on.

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