Michelin and endurance racing’s hybrid prototype era
The 2020 8 Hours of Bahrain in November brought the age of hybrid LMP1 prototypes to a close. Introduced in 2012, these technologically-sophisticated machine...
The Michelin Pilot Sport range of endurance racing tyres showcased its winning ability in the recent 2021 Asian Le Mans Series which was hosted by the United Arab Emirates. G-Drive Racing claimed the Teams’ and Drivers’ crowns to earn an invitation to contest this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.
Since its victory in the very first Asian Le Mans Series races at Okayama, Japan, in 2009, Michelin has emerged as a prominent player in this expanding championship.
“The 2021 series in Dubai and Abu Dhabi was a resounding success, with a field of 36 cars in spite of the difficulties associated with the pandemic,” reports Ben Ma, manager of Michelin Motorsport’s Asia-Pacific operations. “Our partners were unanimous in their praise of the products and services we provided.”
The Dubai Autodrome and Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit are both relatively low-grip venues and a known challenge for tyres, but the Michelin Pilot Sport Endurance range available for the LMP2 prototypes and the Pilot Sport GTs for the LMP3 and GT3 machinery delivered both grip and consistency from the start to the finish of all four rounds.
“Despite the hot weather, all the Michelin runners double stinted, which equates to around 400 kilometres on a single set. But they could even have triple stinted,” notes the Michelin Motorsport technician who attended the meeting to provide advice and inspect tyres as they came off the cars. “There was very little wear…”
The Customer Racing Pilot Sport GT range revealed its potential by claiming pole-position in GT3, more than a second quicker than the best qualifying effort for the 24 Hours of Dubai which was posted on rival rubber. Meanwhile, the Pilot Sport Endurance – which was being used for the first time by LMP2 teams in the Asian Le Mans Series – stood out through its performance and consistency as track temperatures soared to 40°C.
The G-Drive Racing-run Aurus01-Gibson/Michelin of René Binder, Yifei Ye and Ferdinand Habsburg won both fixtures in Dubai, while victory in the two Abu Dhabi clashes went to the Jota-tended Oreca07-Gibson/Michelin shared by Sean Legeal/Tom Blomqvist.
The 2021 titles were secured by G-Drive Racing and Binder/Ye/Habsburg, the LMP3 gold medals went to United Autosports and Maldonado/Penttinen/Boyd, and the GT3 standings were topped by Precote Herberth Motorsport (Porsche 911 GT3 R/Michelin).
The results of the Asian Le Mans Series spell automatic entries for the year’s Le Mans 24 Hours and five teams earned invitations for the French endurance classic in 2012. They were G-Drive Racing, Precote Herberth Motorsport, GPX Racing, Rinaldi Racing Ferrari Races and Inception Racing.
Five of the nine ‘rookie’ teams invited to be at Le Mans on August 21-22 come from the Asian Le Mans Series, a figure which confirms the competition’s importance in the endurance racing pyramid.