Michelin and endurance racing’s new era
Michelin will equip the entire hypercar prototype fields in both the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in North America and this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC). Its tires are consequently poised to play an active role in the mouthwatering shootout that is sure to oppose Peugeot, Porsche, Ferrari, Cadillac, Acura, BMW, Glickenhaus and Vanwall this season, with June’s centenary edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours standing out as the campaign’s highlight.
Although the introduction of endurance racing’s hypercars dates back to the 2020 FIA WEC, the class promises to come of age truly this year as numerous prestigious manufacturers join the fray in the sport’s two major competitions, and at famous races like Le Mans.
No fewer than six makes will be making their debut or comeback at the sport’s sharp end alongside existing protagonists Toyota, Glickenhaus and Peugeot in 2023. They are Porsche, Ferrari, Cadillac, Acura, BMW and Vanwall, while others still – like Alpine, Lamborghini and Isotta Fraschini – are expected to come onboard in 2024.
Michelin has been nominated by the organizing bodies behind the sport’s two major series to equip all these hypercars which will compete on Michelin Pilot Sport tires that were developed in a matter of months thanks to advanced simulation technology. Buoyed by the successes it has chalked up since 2020, the range has evolved further for this year to provide the French firm’s partners with the best possible longevity and performance. “Our hypercar range for 2023 is effectively all new,” confirms Pierre Alves, the manager of Michelin Motorsport’s endurance racing programs.
This year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will kick off on January 28 with the 24 Hours of Daytona in Florida, USA, where the new Porsche 963, Cadillac V-LMDh, Acura ARX-06 and BMW M Hybrid V8 hybrid prototypes will appear on Michelin Pilot Sports conceived to take double and even triple stints in their stride due to the smaller tire allocations authorized at each round.
Then, on March 11, thirteen hypercars will gather at Florida’s famous Sebring airfield circuit for the opening clash of the FIA WEC. In the championship’s premier class, Michelin will equip a pair of Toyota GR010 Hybrids, four Porsche 963s, two Ferrari 499Ps, two Peugeot 9X8s, a Cadillac V-LMDh, a Glickenhaus 007 and a Vanwall Vandervell 680.
The latest regulations outlaw the use of tire warmers, so Michelin Motorsport’s engineers focused their development work for the new season on new rubber compounds.
The highlight of the 2023 FIA WEC will clearly be the centenary edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours (June 10-11). The occasion will also mark the 100th anniversary of Michelin’s maiden victory at the French classic. Since that landmark achievement with the Chenard et Walcker Sport of Lagache/Léonard back in 1923, Michelin has harvested no fewer than 30 outright wins at Le Mans and gone unbeaten there since 1998.