Michelin sweep at Sebring Meeting the needs of a wide variety of technical partners, including innovative prototypes, Michelin celebrated a record 11th consecutive victory at the 57th running of the Twelve Hours of Sebring, America’s premier sports car endurance race. Michelin and its technical partners from Audi, Peugeot, Acura, Mazda, Corvette, Porsche and Ferrari dominated the entire 12-hour race at the 3.7 mile Florida circuit. Michelin teams swept the top nine positions overall, taking the victories in all four ALMS classes
Introducing a sleek and sophisticated new Audi R15 TDI clean diesel, the latest in a series of championship prototypes that have dominated endurance racing for the past decade, Audi engineers worked closely with Michelin to select the optimum tire compounds and pressures to score their ninth victory at Sebring in the past decade, all with Michelin. The winning car was driven by the defending 24 Hours of Le Mans champions: Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello. Proving that fast cars and clean cars are not incompatible concepts, the winning Audi scored an unprecedented double by also winning the inaugural MICHELIN® Green X® Challenge.
The continuing battle between Audi and Peugeot for endurance sports car racing supremacy produced a sensational dice as the Audi and Peugeot prototypes, both Michelin technical partners, exchanged the lead a stunning 23 times to produce new records for race distance (383 laps—1417.1 miles) and average speed (117.986 mph). Finishing second was the Peugeot 908 HDI of Stephane Sarrazin; Sebastien Bourdais and Franck Montagny, followed by the Audi sister car of Lucas Luhr, Mike Rockenfeller and Marco Werner.
Acura Impresses in P1 Debut:
The maiden race for the revolutionary new Acura P1 prototypes ended early, but not before the radical new Acura prototypes had served notice to the competition. Designed by Acura to maximize mechanical grip, the new Acura ARX-02a runs the maximum permitted width MICHELIN® tires on the front as well as the rear wheel positions. Scott Dixon shocked the paddock with his pole-winning lap in qualifying, and his de Ferran Acura remained on the lead lap through the first seven hours of the race, at a circuit where they were expected to struggle.
Finishing fourth overall and taking their long-overdue first victory in ALMS LMP2 competition, Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz turned in a highly polished performance by taking the class pole, fastest race lap and class win in the #15 Lowe’s Fernandez Acura ARX-01b. The team, now entering its third season of ALMS competition, had several near misses in 2008.
Corvette Doubles Up:
Matching Audi’s feat in the GT category, the legendary Corvette C6.R GT1 cars made their Sebring GT1 farewell in style, finishing sixth and seventh overall and 1-2 in the GT1 class both in the race, and in the MICHELIN® Green X® Challenge.
Consistency Thy Name is Michelin:
Risi Ferrari’s Jaime Melo, Mike Salo and Pierre Kaffer relied on the speed and consistency of their MICHELIN® tires to overcome a procedural penalty that sent them to the back of the 26 car starting grid to take the GT2 class victory by two laps over the Ferrari 430GT of Advanced Engineering Pecom Racing. “We had a good balance to the car and the Michelin tires were very consistent, especially on long runs, and that made a big difference,” said Salo.
“Coming into Sebring for the first race of the season with new prototypes from Audi; Acura and Mazda, and all the unknowns of a first race, we are very pleased that all of our technical partners were so highly competitive,” said Silvia Mammone, Michelin motorsports manager. “Sebring marked the 100th race in ALMS history and it provided us with an opportunity to gauge our progress and to demonstrate our commitment to learn and to win.”
Dedicated to the improvement of sustainable mobility, Michelin designs, manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks, motorcycles and the space shuttle. The company also publishes travel guides, hotel and restaurant guides, maps and road atlases. Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America (www.michelinman.com) employs more than 22,600 and operates 19 major manufacturing plants in 17 locations.