WEC 2016 - 6 Hours of Mexico - Michelin covers all the conditions in Mexico
As anticipated, the inaugural 6 Hours of Mexico was marked by changeable weather. The MICHELIN tires available for round five of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship covered the entire spectrum of conditions encountered in the course of the race and the teams which applied the most judicious strategies gained an edge as the afternoon unfolded.
Mexico City’s Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, which sits at an altitude of almost 2,300 metres, features several long, high-speed straights, while another challenge is the frequent phenomenon of localised rain which can result a very wet track in one place, while the asphalt is entirely dry elsewhere.
The conditions were bright and quite warm for the start but rain began to fall with some two-and-a-half hours remaining, prompting Michelin’s partners to pit for a tire change. They didn’t all re-join on the same rubber, however.
When it started to rain, the teams had to think quickly in order to decide on the best strategys. Some of cars switched directly to rain tires, but Audi Sport opted for our Hybrid tire which resembles a slick but which was developed to race in damp or drying conditions. The rain effectively stopped after around quarter of an hour, at which time the N°7 Audi R18 was lapping between five and seven seconds faster than its rivals thanks to its tire choice. We saw a similar scenario unfold in LM GTE Pro when the two AF Corse Ferraris stayed out on slicks and managed to gain a lap on their rivals who went for a different choice. Once again, the teams’ strategies, coupled with the versatility of the range we had in Mexico, had a significant influence on the result. I would also like to underline the performance of our LMP2 partner Extreme Speed Motorsport which finished on the podium again, even though only two of the 11 cars in this class were on MICHELIN tires.
The entertaining six-hour race was ultimately won by the N°1 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley, ahead of the N°7 Audi R18 (André Lotterer / Marcel Fässler). The N°6 Toyota TS-050 Hybrid (Stéphane Sarrazin / Mike Conway / Takeru Kobayashi) made it an all-Michelin podium.
The next round of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship will take teams to Austin, Texas, USA, on September 17.