Thursday, March 4, 2021 – Le Castellet, France: Maiden outing for the new range of MICHELIN Pilot Sport Hypercar tires as the Toyota GR010 Hybrid completes a...
The latest-generation MICHELIN Pilot Sport tires developed for endurance racing’s new Hypercar class were successful out of the box at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium). The opening round of the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship was won by the N°8 Toyota GR010 HYBRID of Buemi/Nakajima/Hartley, ahead of the N°36 Alpine A480 (Negrao/Lapierre/Vaxivière) and N°7 Toyota (Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez).
The 2021 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps marked the eagerly-awaited debut of endurance racing’s new Hypercars for which Michelin has developed a new range of bespoke Pilot Sport tires.
“From their design and initial simulation work, to their production and our first track test, the development of our new tires took about 10 months,” says Pierre Alves, the manager of Michelin Motorsport’s endurance racing programs. “We were consequently keen to see how they performed at the first race of the season at Spa-Francorchamps which is a notoriously demanding circuit.
“Our aim was to provide our partners with a winning combination of performance, consistency and safety, and there is good reason to be pleased with the outcome. The three Hypercars that traveled to Belgium completed more than 8,700 kilometers in total, so we were able to collect a lot of data which will help us to prepare for the next rounds and pursue the new MICHELIN Pilot Sport’s development.”
The race – which took place in dry, cold conditions, with the thermometer standing at around 10°C – saw the Hypercar prototypes double-stint their MICHELIN Pilot Sports (two stints = approximately 50 laps/350km).
The Toyota GR010 HYBRIDs and the Alpine A480 traded the lead several times, but the win ended up in the hands of the N°8 Toyota (Sébastien Buemi/Kazuki Nakajima/Brendon Hartley) thanks a consistent display that also harvested the fastest race lap (2m3.930s). The pole-winning N°7 sister car lost time with a ‘straight-on’ with two hours remaining. The Alpine A480 was unable to compensate for the additional fuel stop it needed to make compared with the hybrid Toyotas.
The LM GTE Pro battle was won by the N°92 Porsche/Michelin (Estre/Jani) which Kevin Estre put on pole position thanks to the fastest-ever lap time posted in the class at Spa (2.5s quicker than last year’s best qualifying time). The German car was joined on the podium by the N°51 and N°52 Michelin-equipped Ferrari 488s.
The N°83 Ferrari/Michelin of Perrodo/Nielsen/Rovera took an assertive victory in LM GTE Am.
The next round of the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship will take teams to Portugal for the 8 Hours of Portimao on June 13.
6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps – Final positions:
Buemi/Nakajima/Hartley (Toyota GR010 HYBRID/Michelin), 162 laps
Negrao/Lapierre/Vaxivière (Alpine A480/Michelin), +1m7.196s
Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez (Toyota GR010 HYBRID/Michelin), +1 lap
Hanson/Scherer/Albuquerque (Oreca-Gibson), +1 lap
Gonzalez/Da Costa/Davidson (Oreca-Gibson), +2 laps