LeMans also a home race for Michelin As dominant as Michelin has been in the American Le Mans Series since 1999, the French tire manufacturer’s record at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is equally as impressive. This weekend Michelin will go for its 11th consecutive Le Mans victory with an army of personnel and equipment to supply more than 40 cars in the 55-car field.
Since 1998, Michelin-shod teams have recorded 29 of 42 class wins at Le Mans with three class victories in each of the last four years. In 2003, Michelin supplied tires to all five class winners in the world’s greatest endurance race.
“It's our home battlefield,” said Frédéric Henry-Biabaud, Michelin Motorsport Director. “Losing at Le Mans is out of the question. It’s true that we supply a lot of teams, but in the end it’s those teams that have chosen us, because we give them good tires and top-quality service. At the Le Mans 24 Hours, it’s important to have a tire partner that knows a bit about the race. Nonetheless, every year we are careful not to become complacent: all it takes is one false move for our reputation to suffer. Le Mans is one of the high points of the endurance racing season.”
In all, a fleet of semi-trailers will haul some 8,000 tires to the French circuit. The final tires come off the production line at the beginning of June before being trucked to La Sarthe early in race week.
“You need around thirty sets of slicks per car, plus intermediate and rain tires,” said Gérard Bombled, Michelin Competition's Endurance Programme Operations Manager. “In addition to the tires, we also take all the tire-fitting equipment we need plus mobile offices and a catering truck for the staff.”
In the American Le Mans Series, Michelin has recorded 23 tire manufacturer championships, 89 overall victories in 92 races (including 39 straight) and 257 class wins (64 in a row).