The pre-Le Mans 24 Hours test day is the only opportunity teams get to test at the famous 13.626-kilometre track ahead of race-week itself. Unsurprisingly, Sunday’s order was dominated by the Michelin-equipped Toyota TS050 Hybrids.
The 62 entries invited to take part in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, including the 53 cars racing on Michelin rubber, got their first chance of the year to lap the famous French track on Sunday, June 2. The day’s schedule was divided into two four-hour sessions and the sunny conditions produced track temperatures of up to 38°C.
The objective for Michelin’s technical staff was to find their marks and harvest data ahead of the big race by testing the various available compounds and comparing their performance and longevity, as well as evaluating a range of pressure-settings as a function of the different temperature windows, etc.
Between them, the two Toyota TS050 Hybrids of Michelin’s partner Toyota Gazoo Racing totalled 220 laps of the Circuit de la Sarthe, which is equivalent to almost 3,000km. The fastest lap was the work of Sébastien Buemi (N°8) who clocked 3m19.440s (average speed: 246kph) to better the effort of team-mate Mike Conway by 0.809s. Although about two seconds off the Japanese cars’ pace, the non-hybrid prototypes produced the highest top speeds of the day, with Stoffel Vandoorne (BR1-AER/Michelin) peaking at 350.1kph.
The best lap in LM GTE Pro was posted by Mike Rockenfeller (Corvette C7.R/Michelin, 3m54.001s) but the class’s 12 fastest cars were blanketed by less than a second! Meanwhile, the top five in LM GTE Am were all Michelin-equipped Ferrari 488s, with Toni Vilander (N°62) emerging as the driver to beat.
Three of Michelin’s LMP2 partners concluded the test in the category’s top five, just two-tenths short of the benchmark time.