Michelin Petit Le Mans post-race recap
Michelin Petit Le Mans post-race recap
Michelin helps Porsche win Petit Le Mans; Corvette, Ford claim GTLM titles
Eight of the nine cars entered in the hyper competitive IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT Le Mans class led at various stages. But Porsche GT Team’s trio of Nick Tandy, Patrick Pilet and Fred Makowiecki emerged with the victory in the Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
With ideal conditions on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile natural terrain Road Atlanta circuit for a prestigious major event with season championships on the line, the powerful, factory-linked GTLM teams from Porsche, Corvette, BMW, Ford, and Ferrari explored a wide range of Michelin options and race strategies in the final race of the 2018 IMSA season.
While Porsche won the race, Corvette Racing leapt to second position on the final pit stop of the 10-hour race with 48 minutes remaining. Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler combined to see off the challenge of Ford’s Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon. This assured the Corvette pairing of Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen a second consecutive GTLM driver’s championship.
BMW Team RLL completed the podium with John Edwards, Jesse Krohn and Chaz Mostert sharing the team’s new M8 GTE. Edwards won the pole Friday with a new track record lap that was more than six tenths quicker than the previous mark.
Porsche, Michelin capture ‘the majors’
The Motul Petit Le Mans win was Porsche’s fourth as a manufacturer in major worldwide endurance races as it celebrates its 70th year of sports cars, joining wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Nurburgring and 24 Hours of Le Mans. Pilet, Tandy and Makowiecki were also part of the Sebring and Nurburgring winning lineups.
“We started the season well at Sebring (win) and finished well with a win here,” Tandy said. “We are really happy to select the right tire at the end of the race. We set the car up for the cooler conditions at night time and it was a difficult call to select which Michelin compound to use. We did the right thing and it paid off.”
Everyone runs well
All five GT Le Mans class manufacturers and eight of the nine GTLM entries led the race at least once. Eight of the nine bettered the previous race lap record, led by Garcia with a 1:17.977 clocking as the top eight GTLM cars posted best laps within an incredible 0.259-second range on a 78-second lap.
“We are extremely pleased that all of our technical partner manufacturer teams were able to consistently compete at such an incredibly high level,” said Chris Baker, director of motorsport, Michelin North America.
“We want to congratulate Porsche on its victory today, Ford and Corvette on their respective championships, and BMW on the successful first season for its new M8. We want to thank all of our technical partners and manufacturers for their support and for putting their trust in Michelin to help them perform.”
Corvette Claims Team and Driver Titles
During the 11-race 2018 IMSA WeatherTech Championship season, all four full-season Michelin technical partner teams won races. But Corvette Racing’s consistency prevailed for the driver and team championships.
Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen defended their title and claimed Corvette’s third straight, after Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner won in 2016. Despite not winning a race and finishing only eighth at Road Atlanta, the pairing’s eight podium finishes led the field to ensure the title.
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing led the class with five wins. Porsche GT Team won three times and BMW Team RLL twice. Corvette won once, but secured 12 podium finishes to end first and third in the championships.
Ford Captures Manufacturer Title
In just the third season of GTLM competition for its radical Ford GTs, Ford claimed the WeatherTech GTLM Manufacturer championship.
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook had three wins and finished second in the driver and GTLM team championships.
Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta announced
Prior to the race, Michelin announced an agreement with Road Atlanta for exclusive naming rights of the racetrack. Beginning in 2019, the track will be renamed Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
This is the first time globally that Michelin has secured naming rights of a racetrack and the first entitlement partnership at Road Atlanta, which is situated about 100 miles from Michelin North America’s headquarters in Greenville, S.C.