Michelin’s 2019 IMSA Season One for the Record Books

October 23, 2019

Michelin’s 2019 IMSA Season One for the Record Books

October 23, 2019

Michelin set a bevy of new qualifying, race lap and race distance records in its inaugural season as Official Tire of IMSA

Greenville, SC. (Oct. 23, 2019) – Michelin’s first full season in its long-term commitment as the Official Tire of IMSA saw teams, drivers and automotive brands smash the record books in each of the three series in IMSA in which it competes.

The performance delivered by the MICHELIN® Pilot® GT competition tires constituted numerous qualifying and race lap times as well as distance records broadly across the entire paddock in all three series.

Highlights include setting 90 of a possible 114 new qualifying and race lap records across the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge and IMSA Prototype Challenge.

In the WeatherTech Championship, the top-level DPi class set new qualifying records at all 10 race venues, by an average of 1.95 seconds while the MICHELIN Pilot Challenge competitors achieved an average of roughly 1.7 second lap time advantage as compared to 2018.

Additionally, in the top level WeatherTech Championship, the overall race winners set 5new race distance records. Thanks to a combination of favorable track and weather conditions, teams worked with Michelin’s engineers and motorsport tire specialists to extract the most from their Michelin® Pilot® GT tires.

“We take great pride in having a positive impact to all our race partners,” said Chris Baker, Michelin North America motorsports director. “The development and design of our competition tires is meant to provide maximum performance under a broad set of conditions. More importantly, to do so consistently over time. We feel these records speak to that goal and the hard work and collaboration with IMSA and the teams this season.”

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Rolex 24 at Daytona, IMSA, Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach FL, January 2019. Photo: Michelin North America (Cleary/bcpix.com)

Throughout the season, drivers and teams noted the performance and longevity Michelin brought with its 2019 range of tires.

“We’ve come here with a MICHELIN® tire that is absolutely fantastic,” said Oliver Jarvis, who in his Mazda RT24-P broke a 26-year-old all-time qualifying mark for the Rolex 24 At Daytona in a car with less horsepower but more advanced aerodynamics and tire performance. “It was a joy to drive. In that low fuel configuration, the combination of the car and tires felt incredible. It was a great feeling to get everything out of the car.”

Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso raced with Michelin for each of his three 24-hour race victories achieved in 2018 and 2019, twice at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and this year at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in Wayne Taylor Racing’s Cadillac DPi-V.R.

“In the dry, I think we did lap times that had never been done here before in Daytona, making lap records with the Mazda in qualifying, etc. So I think the tires were put under stress, but they behaved quite well,” Alonso said.

“Also in wet conditions, extreme conditions, we were able to run a lot of laps under the green flag. It’s a big change compared to last year. I think with Michelin, we were all very happy.”

Season champions reflected on the change to Michelin this year, as well. Juan Pablo Montoya added to both his and Acura Team Penske’s record achievements as he captured the WeatherTech Championship DPi title this year with Dane Cameron.

“We qualify strong because we get more and more out of the tires. Michelin brought a great tire again,” Montoya said after his and Cameron’s third win of 2019 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey. “They are so consistent. We managed not only the pace but we had tires at the end, and it paid off.”

Teams which used Michelin’s commercial range slicks in the Challenge classes also extracted more pace and longevity out of the tires this season.

“Last year we were always with our backs to the wall on set-ups,” said Tyler McQuarrie, who won the inaugural IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge GS championship with Jeff Westphal in the CarBahn by Peregrine Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4.

“The change to Michelin really livened up the car and gave us more flexibility on set-ups, and the tech support from Michelin was great.”

Here is a summary of the records set during the 2019 IMSA season:

QUALIFYING AND RACE LAP RECORDS

  • In the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge and IMSA Prototype Challenge, drivers and teams set 90 of a possible 114 new qualifying and race lap records.
  • A total of 17 of the 19 automotive brands entered in IMSA set at least one new qualifying or race lap record this season. 
  • Qualifying and race lap records were set at each of the 12 race weekends on the 2019 IMSA schedule.
  • Records were set across the board, with all the DPi, GT Le Mans, GT Daytona, GS, TCR and LMP3 categories breaking previous records at most if not all events. As a new category split from DPi and with a power reduction compared to 2018, LMP2 established new times at each of its race venues.
  • In the WeatherTech Championship, the top-level DPi class set new qualifying records at all 10 race venues, by an average of 1.95 seconds, with Michelin’s new IMSA-specific IMSA Medium and IMSA Hard compounds. The largest year-on-year gain came at Road America, where the pole was more than 3 seconds quicker than the previous record.
  • Both the DPi and GTLM classes set new race lap records in all its races. At Daytona and Michelin Raceway, all cars in both classes surpassed the previous mark. Additionally, GTLM (VIR) and GTD (Daytona) also had all cars beat the race lap records in those events.
  • The MICHELIN Pilot Challenge series saw its GS and TCR classes set new qualifying and race lap records at every venue with the commercial Michelin® Pilot® Sport GT S8M and S9M tires.
  • In each of the 8 dry qualifying sessions, both classes set new qualifying marks and in all 10 races, both classes set new best race laps.
  • On average, the GS pole was 1.797 seconds quicker than in 2018 and the TCR pole was 1.831 seconds quicker.
  • In the races, the GS best lap was 1.762 quicker than in 2018, with the TCR best lap 1.697 seconds quicker.

RACE DISTANCE RECORDS

  • Additionally, in the top level WeatherTech Championship, the overall race winners set 5 new race distance records. Thanks to a combination of favorable track and weather conditions, teams worked with Michelin’s engineers and Motorsport Tire Specialists to extract the most from their Michelin® tires.
  • These occurred at IMSA’s shortest track (Lime Rock Park, 1.474 miles) and longest track (Road America, 4.048 miles) and at three other circuits (Watkins Glen International, 3.4 miles, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, 2.238 miles and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, 2.54 miles).
  • The new distance record set at Michelin Raceway for the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans was 465 laps and a total of 1,181.1 miles. That beat the old mark set last year of 443 laps and 1,125.22 miles by some 55.88 miles.
  • Teams and drivers went further with Michelin by more than 30 miles at Watkins Glen in a six-hour race and more than 28 miles at Road America in a two-hour, 40-minute race.

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