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Michelin Motorsport, Clermont-Ferrand, France – February, 2020: On completion of the design phase, a digital version of the MICHELIN Pilot Sport for endurance racing’s new Hypercar class was produced for the purpose of simulator testing, ahead of the real thing’s manufacture and eventual sign-off a few months later.
The sizes and materials for the new MICHELIN Pilot Sport were selected during the tire’s design on the computer as a function of endurance racing’s technical regulations and the data provided by Michelin’s Hypercar partners.
“The next step was to evaluate the forces and moments the tire would be subjected to using a mathematical model” says Jérémie Ricquier, Performance Analyst at Michelin Motorsport. “Within weeks, we had succeeded in producing a digital version of the tire which we then converted into a computer file that the simulator could read. The task of evaluating the digital tire on the simulator was entrusted to an actual driver.”
Developing the tire in virtual form not only saves time and money, but also minimizes its environmental impact ahead of the real thing’s production.
“Some 200 different ingredients go into the 20 or so semi-finished products that make up every MICHELIN Pilot Sport endurance racing tire,” explains Aurélien Fabre, Tire Design ‘Team Manager’, Michelin Motorsport “These semi-finished products range from the plies and strengthening to the rubber compounds. They are designed in different locations and assembled by hand at Michelin’s Cataroux plant in Clermont-Ferrand. Tires are then cured for around 25 minutes at a temperature of 180°C. It takes an average of 45 minutes to make an endurance racing slick.”
The quality of every cover is meticulously inspected to detect the slightest defect before MICHELIN Pilot Sport branding is applied to the sidewalls. Tires are subsequently submitted to a range of static and dynamic tests at Michelin’s Technology Center in Ladoux before they get their first real track run. These tests include the Record Machine, a tool developed initially for racing tires but which is now also employed for road products.
“The Record Machine takes the form of a three-meter-diameter cylinder coated on the inside with asphalt. The tire is placed inside the rig which can replicate a variety of slip and camber angles. The rotating cylinder is capable of reproducing speeds of up to 350kph, as well different running conditions – including rain – to make sure the tires are perfectly safe for their track début.”
To be continued…