Tire Insider – Dijyano – The Forecast

July 11, 2010

Tire Insider – Dijyano – The Forecast

July 11, 2010

Matt Hanlon, Michelin race tire engineer with Risi Competizione. Photo credit: Rick Dole for Michelin North America

Matt Hanlon is the Michelin race tire engineer working with the ALMS GT pole-winning No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari driven by Gianmaria (“Gimmi”) Bruni and Jaime Melo here at Miller Motorsports Park. .

Hanlon, a Virginia Tech graduate, is in his third year working for Michelin with the Risi Ferrari team. During that time they have won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Petit Le Mans, and 12 Hours of Sebring twice each.

“The biggest variable here at MMP is that the track can change so quickly with the wind or the cloud cover,” said Hanlon. “When the wind blows the sand across the track, the tire temperatures build very rapidly as the cars start sliding the tires.”

Hanlon reports that track temperature in cloudy conditions typically ranges from 105 to 110 degrees, but in sunny conditions, the temperatures can soar anywhere from 120 to 130 degrees.

“If the cloud cover breaks and we are in full sunshine, the track temperatures can gain 15 degrees in just 15-20 minutes,” said Hanlon.

Hanlon sees keeping the tires alive through a full (one-hour) stint as the key to success here at MMP. “Tire choices and tire pressures are very important because if the sun comes out or the wind starts blowing sand on the track midway through a stint you need to be able to make it to the end of your stint.”

Due to the heat, sand, and track layout, Hanlon sees medium or hard compound tires or combinations thereof as the preferred options. “There are several ways to play it, but the key is whether the track stays cool or heats up and whether or not the wind starts blowing sand on the track,” said Hanlon. “If the track starts out cool and the sun comes out it can definitely change your strategy.”

The right side tires take the greatest abuse on the predominantly counter-clockwise 3.048-mile circuit. Hanlon expects most cars to change tires on both scheduled stops during the two-hour, 45 minute race, the fourth stop on the 2010 ALMS schedule.

The second Risi Ferrari No. 61 entry driven by Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella qualified third but will be sent to the rear of the field after a ride height violation. It will start not only behind the entire GT field but also behind the slower GT-Challenge class entries. As a result, Hanlon indicates the team may consider a slightly more aggressive tire choice to help the No. 61 get through the traffic in the early stages of the race.

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