All IMSA roads lead to Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta
All IMSA roads lead to Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta
Both on and off-track, Michelin will be highly visible at its lone sponsored track
Braselton, Ga. (Oct. 7, 2019) – According to the official schedule, the week of October 9-12 concludes the 2019 IMSA championship season.
The Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta represents the 12th and final round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the final IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge and IMSA Prototype Challenge races, and the fourth and final major event comprising the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup.
So for most in the paddock, this weekend represents the culmination of IMSA’s 50th anniversary season. But, as one would expect, Michelin sees it in a slightly different light.
“Rather than a finale, Michelin views the Motul Petit Le Mans as another early step in our IMSA partnership. It may be Round 12 of the 2019 season, but it is just the end of Round 1 of the Michelin-IMSA Official Tire relationship,” said Chris Baker, director of motorsport, Michelin North America.
If it appears that the Michelin Man is everywhere at the IMSA finale, it may be because Michelin is almost literally, everywhere. Michelin will be busy on, off, and around the fast, hilly, 12-turn, 2.54-mile circuit, now officially titled Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
The stunning new 52,000 square foot, four-story Michelin Tower, housing race officials, media, broadcasters, and hospitality will be officially dedicated on Friday. This is sandwiched between the final rounds of the two IMSA Challenge series races, with one in the morning and the other in the early afternoon.
Michelin will be assisting all 96 entries, 220 drivers and 19 eligible automotive marques competing in the three respective championships. By comparison, Michelin worked with just five marques, nine cars and 27 drivers, all in the WeatherTech GT Le Mans class, here in 2018.
“This track is truly one of the classic tests of drivers and their machines. It is very fast, with a great flow. The technical demands on cars, drivers, teams and tires all evolve during the ten hours of the race. It is a great place to end the season,” Baker said.
Saturday’s 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans marks the fourth and final major endurance event of the IMSA championship. It joins the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen in the 52-hour Michelin Endurance Cup.
The Season to Date
Coming to Michelin Raceway for the season finale provides an opportunity to reflect on the race-by-race learning process and evolution.
“Our objective at the start of the year was very simple: we wanted to get better operationally at every race, so that by the end of the 2019 season the consensus of the paddock community and the fans would be that IMSA had made a good decision in choosing Michelin as the official tire partner,” Baker said.
“We started with the two biggest events of the year, with the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January and the SuperSebring doubleheader with both the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and the FIA World Endurance championship (WEC) 1,000-mile race. That SuperSebring weekend became the biggest event in Michelin motorsport history. With 137 cars, 16,000 tires and a 27,000 square foot workshop and warehouse tent, we were put to the test right out of the box.
“We’ve been able to establish a pretty good rhythm through the season. We now have a pool of more than 40 race tire engineers and race trained motorsport tire specialists available to support our IMSA program. Our race operations, logistics, and supply chains have been further refined and our marketers and salespeople have developed valuable insights into the IMSA fan base and events.
“Working with so many automotive brands, teams and drivers for the first time has provided a significant opportunity for us to learn. We deeply appreciate the support of the teams and the paddock community and fans as we head to the end of our ‘Round 1.’”
Entering Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, teams and drivers have set 78 qualifying or race lap records among the three series in Michelin’s first season as the Official Tire of IMSA. Additionally, with fewer cautions and increased race lap performance, there have also been several race distance records set.
“We didn’t target lap records as one of our objectives, as we were more focused on overall performance, consistent handling and extended tire life when conditions would enable multiple stints,” said Ken Payne, technical director, motorsport, Michelin North America.
“But the records have been the result of the teams and their engineers and drivers gaining a deeper understanding of our tires and working with our technical support team to extract the performance.”
For the Fans
One of the distinguishing hallmarks of IMSA events is the outstanding level of access and engagement opportunities that IMSA designs into its events for the fans, and that is certainly the case at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Fans can enjoy an open-paddock, driver autograph sessions, open pre-grid, and post-race podium area access.
They can also check out the Michelin Village display on the Midway featuring Michelin’s range of ultra high-performance Pilot® product lines and the latest offerings from many of the IMSA manufacturers, including the new C8 Corvette.
A popular new feature for 2019 has been The Torque Show, presented by Michelin, hosted by Justin Bell and Tommy Kendall. The tented show set is located next to the official race podium and produces three live broadcasts each day of the race weekend, plus a big post-race celebration.
A special group of key influential athletes from various disciplines from around the country will attend the races as part of an immersive MICHELIN® Pilot® Experience event that includes hot laps, a trip to the Porsche Experience Center, a women in IMSA panel discussion, and a dinner by a Michelin starred chef.
“We have been building momentum on and off the track as the season has progressed and want to have a great race for a big crowd at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta to help carry that momentum into 2020 and Round 2,” said Baker.