Acura and Michelin celebrate IMSA’s first Hypercar win
Acura and its partner Michelin scored a one-two finish at the 2023 24 Hours of Daytona, opening round of North America’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the first to feature endurance racing’s exciting hypercar prototypes. The weekend’s winners were Blomqvist/Braun/Castroneves/Pagenaud in Meyer Shank Racing’s N°60 ARX-06.
Two years after the FIA World Endurance Championship’s introduced its new hypercar class, for which Michelin developed a specific range entirely virtually, the sport’s headlining prototypes made their debut at the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech Championship opener, on Michelin tires developed to address changes to the technical regulations and the performance characteristics of these sophisticated hybrid cars.
“Our new range provides a choice of two slick compounds and a single type of rain tire,” says Pierre Alves, manager of Michelin Motorsport’s endurance racing programs. “The rules for 2023 do not allow tire warmers, so we have paid particular attention to their warm-up performance. We have also continued to work on longevity, because allocation restrictions per event mean that double-stinting cannot be avoided.”
Four manufacturers have taken up the hypercar gauntlet in North America, namely Acura, Cadillac, Porsche and BMW, whose cars all run on MICHELIN Pilot Sport tires. After months of development, these splendid prototypes made their competitive debut on January 28-29 at the 24 Hours of Daytona in Florida, USA.
As partner of the IMSA series since 2019, Michelin provided the rubber for all of the 61 cars – representing 14 car makes! – that lined up on the season-opener’s grid.
Meyer Shank Racing and Acura repeated their success at the same race with Michelin in 2022 to make it two-on-the-trot thanks to Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud. The quartet completed 783 laps to beat the similar Wayne Taylor Racing-tended prototype by 4.190 seconds. Chip Ganassi Racing’s two Cadillac V-LMDh cars finished on the same lap, but it turned out to be a more troublesome weekend for RLL’s BMW M-Hybrid V8s and Penske Motorsports’ Porsche 963s.
The LMP2 contest produced a nail-biting finish that saw the N°55 Oreca-Gibson (Proton Competition, Poordad/Pizzi/Allen/Bruni) beat the N°04 Oreca-Gibson (Crowdstrike Racing by APR) by just 16-thousandths of a second after 24 hours and 4,350 kilometers of action!
Winner of the LMP3 prototype class was AWA’s N°17 Duqueine08-Nissan of Mantella/Boyd/Varrone/Merrill, while WeatherTech Racing’s Mercedes-AMG (MacNeil/Juncadella/Gounon/Engel) topped the GTD Pro order, 3.916s clear of the N°3 Corvette C8.R. Third was the N°14 Lexus RCF.
Aston Martin and Michelin came first and second in the GTD battle (which attracted an entry of 23 cars!) with Heart of Racing Team (N°27, De Angelis/Sorensen/James/Turner) and Magnus Racing (N°44). It was the British make’s first Daytona success after 11 attempts, but the impressive Ferrari 296s, Porsche 911 GT3 R 992s and Lamborghini Huracan EVO2s all suffered difficult races.
The next round of the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will take teams to Florida for the 12 Hours of Sebring, the day after the same venue hosts the 1,000 Miles of Sebring, first clash of this season’s FIA World Endurance Championship.