WEC 2018/2019 - Le Mans 24 Hours - MICHELIN tires play key winning roles
Les 24 Heures du Mans 2018 viennent de s’achever sur le doublé de Toyota Gazoo Racing, avec la victoire de la TS-050 HYBRID n°8 pilotée par Fernando Alonso, Sébastien Buemi et Kazuki Nakajima. Sur l’autre Toyota, la n°7, on trouve alors Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi et José Maria López. Les deux prototypes nippons devancent la Rebellion n°3, confiée à Thomas Laurent, Mathias Beche et Gustavo Menezes. Comme tous les prototypes de la catégorie LM P1, hybrides ou non hybrides, ces voitures sont équipées de pneus MICHELIN, et ont bénéficié de l’accompagnement des Conseillers Techniques d’Ecurie (CTE) du manufacturier clermontois.
As in LMP1, MICHELIN provided tires to the entire LM GTE Pro field which saw Porsche GT Team claim first and second places with its N°92 and N°91 Porsche 911 RSRs shared respectively by Christensen/Estre/Vanthoor and Lietz/Bruni/Makowiecki. The two German cars were chased over the finish line by the Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA-run Ford GT of Hand/Müller/Bourdais.
For the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours, MICHELIN provided its partners with a brand new range of soft-, medium- and hard-compound slicks. The challenge was to match these new tires to the characteristics of the latest-generation LM P1 prototypes whose numbers include non-hybrid cars entered by five different teams and which call for specific tires compared with the LM P1-H machines. Another important objective during the development phase was to meet the demands of Michelin’s LMP2 partners while also working closely with the carmakers active in the LM GTE classes in which, in addition to other changes, has seen Aston Martin and BMW both introduce new cars.
When developing MICHELIN Motorsport’s new 2018/2019 endurance racing tire range, the brand’s engineers focused notably on delivering winning performance to the line by ensuring they performed consistently and strongly over the duration of races. This was evidenced this weekend at Le Mans where MICHELIN's partners were able to choose winning strategies.
Toyota Gazoo Racing opted for a strategy of quadruple stints from start to finish, while SMP Racing preferred the principle of quintuple stints - equivalent to 54 laps or 736km. This distance was not far off the record established by Audi Sport in 2011 when the German make completed 55 laps of Le Mans on a single set of tires.
In LM P2, MICHELIN's partners monopolised the grid’s front row thanks to the Idec Sport and Dragonspeed prototypes which were split by mere hundredths of a second in qualifying. For the first 20 or so hours of the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours itself, MICHELIN's partners were in a position where they could challenge for the class lead until they were hit by mechanical problems.