Tire Insider – Dijyano – Road America
Tire Insider – Dijyano – Road America
Brian Monprode is the Michelin race tire engineer with the pole-winning Drayson Racing Lola Judd Coupe.
Now the assistant director of Quality for Michelin Original Equipment tires, Monprode is in his seventh year also working in Michelin motorsports in the American Le Mans Series.
Monprode has been part of an ALMS GT2 championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans win with Petersen/White Lightning Racing and the 2009 ALMS LMP2 championship with Lowe’s Fernandez Racing.
Here are his thoughts on today’s American Le Mans Series race at Road America:
Road America is a very big (4.048 mile) fast and challenging track. The teams have to choose whether to go with a low downforce set-up to take advantage of the long straightaways or to add downforce to work through the high speed corners. The Carousel (the right-handed Turns 9 and 10), is such a long turn that it really stresses the left front tire. One of our options will be to go with a slightly harder LF if needed.
The Set Up:
From a tire standpoint, we face similar questions on camber and pressures. If the pressures are too high, you give up grip in the corners. If the cambers are too high, you run down the straights on the edge of the tires and stress the shoulder area.
Everyone is trying to find the balance of how much downforce to run. Like most of our Michelin teams, the Drayson team is relying on our tires to deliver the grip through the corners, and permit them to reduce downforce so they can pass people on the straightaways.
The Drayson team is a fairly new team. Dale White, the team general manager, has a lot of experience. I worked with him at Petersen/White Lightning and he is a great leader. The Drayson team is really coming together as everyone gets more experience with the car and with each other. We have won the pole at two races in a row and now everyone is hungry to turn today’s pole into the team’s first win.
The weather has been warm but not exceptionally hot. The ambient temperatures have been about 81-82 degrees with the track temperatures in the low 90s. That means we have two good options in terms of our Michelin tire choices. Rain looks unlikely, but if it shows up we also have a really good Michelin wet option. The track itself was breaking up on the inside line through Turn 5. It is a big downhill run into a left-hander and an immediate uphill climb.
The race is two hours and 45 minutes long. Paul Drayson will likely start the car and do the first 45 minutes or so of the race before handing off to Jonny Cocker for the balance.
We start the race on the Michelin tires from qualifying, so at the first stop we will likely change tires and drivers. That way we can have a look and see if we want to change tires, compounds or pressures on the second stop. We can run mediums, softs, or combinations.
From a wear standpoint, we can certainly double-stint if the circumstances warrant. The car is fairly easy on tires, but pickup on the tires can be a problem since the cars are off line in traffic and making passes.
My job is to monitor performance, identify options and help provide the team with the right information.
The competition for the overall win is pretty tight. The Dyson Mazda is starting on the front row next to us. They won the last race at Mid-Ohio and have a turbocharged 4-cylinder Mazda. I expect them to crank up the boost at the start and go for the lead. The Muscle Milk Porsche Michelin car qualified third and they look very good. The surprise was the Autocon car qualifying fourth. They have a lot of horsepower and a ton of straightaway speed.
The Highcroft Michelin car, on the other hand looks to be short on straightaway speed, maybe as much as 25-30 miles per hour less than the Autocon and the Intersport Fields’ cars.
Highcroft is a great team and they do not make mistakes and they will be in the fight. I would not rule out the Fields’ car. They have a ton of horsepower and have had way more straight-line speed than anyone all season. They will be starting from the back, but I expect them to be in the lead group within five or six laps.