Michelin keeps its cool at Motul Petit Le Mans

October 18, 2020

Michelin keeps its cool at Motul Petit Le Mans

October 18, 2020

The 23rd running of the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta produced fast and fierce competition in the 10-hour event, the third of the four 2020 IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup events.

“We are very pleased by the consistent performance and lap times that our tires delivered throughout the entire event despite the big variations in track temperatures,” said Tony Ménard, director of motorsport, Michelin North America.

Long green flag stints were the order of the day, as much of the race was run at a record pace on the fast, technically demanding 2.54-mile circuit. Lap speeds on the hilly,12-turn circuit average just three miles-per-hour less than the high banked Daytona International Raceway road course.

The 12:40 p.m. race start put the final third of the race after sunset and produced a dramatic drop in both ambient (48F) and track (50F) temperatures for the final hour. Both the ambient and track temperatures swung by more than 20 degrees from the highest points in the race.

Always a highly popular event with an enthusiastic fan base, attendance was limited to 50 percent capacity, a goal that race officials said that they met.

Chaotic WeatherTech Race Finish

While most of Petit Le Mans was run under green flag conditions, the race ended behind the safety car after a controversial coming together between two DPi class contenders and a secondary incident with another car off course.

Contact between Ricky Taylor’s Acura and Pipo Derani’s Cadillac at Turn 6 knocked them both out of win contention and promoted the No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R of Renger van der Zande, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon to an unexpected overall victory. It’s their second in three Michelin Endurance Cup races this year (Rolex 24 At Daytona), and snaps the No. 7 Acura car’s three-race win streak.

Meanwhile Porsche and Ferrari got on the board with their first two wins of the season in the GT classes. This means 14 of the 17 automotive brands in IMSA have won at least once in either the WeatherTech Championship or MICHELIN Pilot Challenge this season.

Porsche GT Team claimed the first U.S. race win for its the Porsche 911 RSR-19, shared by Nick Tandy, Fred Makowiecki and Matt Campbell in GT Le Mans. Scuderia Corsa Ferrari won GT Daytona with Alessandro Balzan, Cooper MacNeil and Jeff Westphal.

Tower Motorsport by Starworks won the four-car LMP2 class with two series debutantes (Job van Uitert, Mikkel Jensen) and veteran John Farano.

Dragon Tail to Fairy Tale for Filippi, Hyundai

Mason Filippi and Mark Wilkins drove to Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in a Hyundai Veloster N TCR, equipped with a set of new MICHELIN® Pilot® Sport All Season 4 tires. A portion of the drive included the “Tail of the Dragon,” a 318-turn, 11-mile stretch of road in North Carolina, where the drivers could check out the grip, handling and performance of these all season tires in cool, fall conditions.

The epic drive set the stage for an even more epic finish to Friday’s MICHELIN Pilot Challenge Fox Factory 120, when Filippi’s teammate Michael Lewis made a daring late-race pass to score the TCR class win.

Battling 16-year-old series debutante Tyler Maxson in another Hyundai, Lewis powered past Maxson on the outside entering Turn 10, then held back the teenager’s determined advances on the final lap. Filippi, who was watching from the pit lane, recapped the incredible week.

“It’s been a crazy week,” Filippi said. “We drove on the ‘Tail of the Dragon’ in the Hyundai Veloster N. The MICHELIN® Pilot® Sport All Season 4 tires gave us so much grip and confidence through that windy course. It was a beautiful road and beautiful time of year. And the tires were great through variable conditions; wet in the morning and dry in the afternoon.

“Then the race was great, and we ended up winning! Michael Lewis jumped in and drove one of the craziest last laps I’ve ever seen. We came here and ended up on top of the box in TCR!”

For more on the drive, check out Michelin’s, Wilkins’, Filippi’s and Bryan Herta Autosport’s social media accounts.

Michelin Post-Race Notes
  • Michelin Tire Tech Tip Minute: Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta is the shortest of the four courses that make up the Michelin Endurance Cup. But as NBC Sports reporter Kelli Stavast notes, the average speed per lap is rapid and on par with other tracks, and traffic management is key to a tire’s success.
  • Record Laps: Dane Cameron (DPi), Antonio Garcia (GTLM) and Shinya Michimi (GTD) set new qualifying lap records for Motul Petit Le Mans. Additionally, Colin Braun (LMP2) and Kyle Kirkwood (LMP3) also set new race lap records. The five records set this weekend bring Michelin’s total of qualifying and lap records to 122 since taking over as Official Tire of IMSA in 2019.
Championship Updates

  • DPi: The chaotic finish referenced above swung the No. 10 car of van der Zande and Briscoe into a more significant points lead.
  • LMP2: Despite a tough race today, Patrick Kelly (PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports) leads this class substantially as the only full-season entrant and a regular class race winner and polesitter.
  • GTLM: Corvette Racing’s pair of Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor finished second to the winning Porsche and continue to close on the title. Garcia nearly hunted down the Porsche in the final stint of the race.
  • GTD: Second-place finishing Aaron Telitz (AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus) now leads this class on his own after the previous points leaders, Meyer Shank Acura, incurred suspension damage. Telitz and usual co-driver Jack Hawksworth have separate points totals as they’ve run apart in several races.
  • GS: A couple championship contenders hit trouble in Friday’s MICHELIN Pilot Challenge race. Tyler McQuarrie qualified the No. 39 CarBahn with Peregrine Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 and led most of the race in GS. However, a drive time miscalculation trying to switch from McQuarrie to Jeff Westphal coupled with an ill-timed full-course caution trapped them on course before pitting. The No. 60 KohR Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage GT4 (Kyle Marcelli/Nate Stacy) leads that championship by 20 points with two races remaining. Aston Martin leads the manufacturer’s championship by one point over Mercedes-AMG.
  • TCR: In TCR, the points leading No. 33 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Veloster N TCR had a left front wheel/suspension issue after contact with another car. Teammates Filippi and Lewis, who won the race, took over the points lead in their No. 98 Hyundai by eight points. Hyundai holds a significant lead in the manufacturer’s championship of 14 points.
  • LMP3: Matt Bell and Naveen Rao scored not only the win, but also the season championship in Prototype Challenge for the K2R Motorsports team.
Race Winners:

Michelin congratulates the race winners from Motul Petit Le Mans race weekend:

WeatherTech Championship (Motul Petit Le Mans)

  • DPi: Renger van der Zande, Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon, No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R
  • LMP2: Job van Uitert, Mikkel Jensen, John Farano, No. 8 Tower Motorsport by Starworks ORECA 07
  • GTLM: Nick Tandy, Fred Makowiecki, Matt Campbell, No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR
  • GTD: Alessandro Balzan, Cooper MacNeil, Jeff Westphal, No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3

MICHELIN Pilot Challenge (Fox Factory 120)

  • GS: Robby Foley, Vin Barletta, No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT4
  • TCR: Michael Lewis, Mason Filippi, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Veloster N TCR

Prototype Challenge

  • LMP3: Naveen Rao, Matt Bell, No. 64 K2R Motorsports Norma M30

Next Up:

The WeatherTech Championship and MICHELIN Pilot Challenge head to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, October 30-November 1, for the second-to-last race weekend of the season.

All IMSA races air on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. IMSA Radio carries all qualifying and races live, flag-to-flag and commercial free.

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Thursday October 22, 2020