Michelin, IMSA Wrap Unique 2020 Season in Sebring

November 9, 2020

Michelin, IMSA Wrap Unique 2020 Season in Sebring

November 9, 2020

In a world turned upside down by a global pandemic, it is only fitting that the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, a cornerstone event traditionally near the beginning of a new racing season, should serve as the closing event of the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship and IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge.

Michelin had already installed a massive 24,000 square foot tent and begun unloading trailer loads of the roughly 13,500 tires for the March 19-21 SuperSebring doubleheader with the FIA World Endurance Championship, when the COVID-19 pandemic brought everything to a full stop.

While the IMSA events were postponed, the companion 2020 WEC event was soon cancelled due to international scheduling considerations.

“We now head to Sebring and looking forward to seeing 2020 champions crowned in the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge and WeatherTech Championships and the Michelin Endurance Cup. It should be an exciting weekend and we are pleased to have fans on site,” said Tony Ménard, director of motorsport, Michelin North America.

Heading to Sebring, 14 of the 17 automotive marques competing in the WeatherTech and Pilot Challenge series have scored at least one race victory in 2020 IMSA competition.

“This has been an unprecedented season and we must recognize the role IMSA, the race promoters, manufacturers, teams and officials played in helping to keep everyone safe and still salvage a highly competitive season in very difficult circumstances,” Ménard said.

“I also want to recognize and thank our own Michelin engineers, motorsport staff, industry and supply chain teams, and our associates at Jackson Marketing. Everyone worked together in close collaboration as we closely adhered to both IMSA and our own Groupe Michelin COVID-19 protocols to help keep everyone safe.”

Sebring is a special place to Michelin, the IMSA teams and the legendary Sebring fans.

The Michelin bridge on the front straightaway has long been the physical and virtual link between the race paddock’s tire technology and fans.

“Although fans will not be permitted to access the paddock or visit the Michelin tire workshop due to the continuing COVID restrictions, the technical bridge remains incredibly strong,” Ménard said.

Michelin Pre-Race / Competition Notes

  • Hall of Fame Worthy: Michelin is one of just five manufacturers (Audi, Chevrolet Corvette, Ferrari, and Porsche), and the only tire maker inducted into the Sebring Hall of Fame.
  • Seventh Sebring Trip in Three Years: Michelin and IMSA have made seven trips to Sebring since the start of 2018, the most at any circuit in that timeframe. In 2018, Michelin supported its GT Le Mans technical partner teams in the 12-hour race in March. In November, Michelin and IMSA hosted the inaugural Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore, which provided LMP3, GT4 and TCR teams a non-points race to learn Michelin’s tires, process and protocols ahead of 2019. The 2019 season featured the first SuperSebring event in March, and the second Encore in November. This year has had the planned March trip, a new event in July, and now the rescheduled 12-hour race weekend in November, on what was the Encore’s initial 2020 date.
  • By The Numbers: For the planned SuperSebring weekend in March, Michelin was set to support 127 cars across four series, with 50 Michelin staff and 50 additional staff on site. The numbers drop to 67 cars across two series this week, and roughly 60 combined Michelin and Jackson staff on site. Tire allocations for the WeatherTech Championship and MICHELIN Pilot Challenge remain the same as in March (23 DPi IMSA Medium, 23 LMP2 IMSA Medium, 21 GTLM Range, 18 GTD S8M, 5 GS S8M, 4 TCR S9M).

Championship Outlooks

  • DPi: The pair of Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves (Acura Team Penske) lead Renger van der Zande and Ryan Briscoe (Konica Minolta Cadillac) by two points. Cadillac leads Acura by one in the manufacturer’s championship.
  • LMP2: Patrick Kelly (PR1/Mathiasen) has mathematically clinched the LMP2 driver’s title.
  • GTLM: Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor (Corvette Racing) and Corvette have mathematically clinched the GT Le Mans driver and manufacturer championships.
  • GTD: Mario Farnbacher and Matt McMurry (Meyer Shank Acura) hold a seven-point lead over Patrick Long and Jan Heylen (Wright Porsche) with AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus’ Aaron Telitz and Jack Hawksworth also within 10 points. Acura leads Lexus by two among manufacturers.
  • Michelin Endurance Cup: The No. 10 Cadillac (DPi), No. 24 BMW (GTLM) and No. 48 Lamborghini (GTD) lineups lead the Michelin Endurance Cup driver standings with Cadillac, BMW and Lamborghini leading the manufacturer championships.
  • GS: Nate Stacy and Kyle Marcelli (KohR Aston Martin) lead Tyler McQuarrie and Jeff Westphal (CarBahn with Peregrine Audi) by 15 points. Aston Martin leads Mercedes-AMG by three and Audi by five among manufacturers.
  • TCR: Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai drivers Ryan Norman and Gabby Chaves hold a four-point edge over teammates Mason Filippi and Michael Lewis. Hyundai holds an unassailable lead in the TCR manufacturer championship.

How to Watch:

The Pilot Challenge race runs Friday, November 13, at 12:05 p.m. ET. The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, which wraps both the WeatherTech Championship full season and Michelin Endurance Cup, begins Saturday, November 14 at 10:10 a.m. ET with coverage on NBC Sports.

All IMSA races air on TrackPass on NBC

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