The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) today announced that Michelin will become the “Official Tire of IMSA" in its premier series – the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and its two major Challenge series – beginning in 2019.
The multi-year agreement calls for Michelin tires to be on every Prototype (P) and GT Daytona (GTD) race car competing in the WeatherTech Championship in addition to its continued participation in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class. The GTLM class will continue to be open to multiple tire manufacturers.
The 2019 IMSA Michelin SportsCar Challenge will feature the Grand Sport (GS) class for cars built to international GT4 specifications and Touring Car for TCR-spec race cars. The IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda, featuring LMP3 race cars, also will ride on Michelins.
“The significance of this expanded partnership with Michelin, one of the world’s most recognized premium brands, cannot be overstated," said IMSA President Scott Atherton. “IMSA has enjoyed a long and successful relationship with Michelin, and we are proud to confirm this long-term agreement. Our expanded partnership with Michelin – which also enjoys strong relationships with many of our participating automotive manufacturers – will be a catalyst for accelerating the growth of the WeatherTech Championship and IMSA as a whole.
“We are extremely grateful for the role Continental Tire played in helping to grow our racing platforms throughout our partnership dating back to 2010," Atherton added. “Continental has been an outstanding partner and was instrumental in elevating the status of the WeatherTech Championship and Continental Tire Challenge to new heights. We extend heartfelt appreciation to our friends at Continental for their unwavering support."
As the “Official Tire of IMSA," the WeatherTech Championship, IMSA Michelin SportsCar Challenge and IMSA Prototype Challenge, Michelin also becomes the entitlement partner of the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup beginning in 2019. The four-round competition recognizes top competitors in each class in the four WeatherTech Championship major endurance races. The Cup consists of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International, and the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
“We are tremendously pleased by today's announcement," said Scott Clark, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Michelin North America. “The continued growth and success of the WeatherTech Championship and IMSA’s related series provides a great platform for us to engage performance enthusiasts and showcase our MICHELINÂ® PilotÂ®Sport family of ultra-high performance tires.
“Michelin does not enter into long-term collaborations lightly or solely for our own benefit," Clark added. “We are committed to IMSA, the competitors and fans to help continue the growth and success of the series on and off the track. This is a tremendous opportunity to work together to grow the sport. We are enthusiastic and eager to make our MICHELIN tires available to the entire field beginning in 2019."
Fourteen automotive brands including Acura, Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet Corvette, Ferrari, Ford, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Nissan, and Porsche are currently entered in the 2017 WeatherTech Championship. Honda, McLaren and MINI are also official partners of IMSA, making a total of 17 at the current time with more currently under discussion.
“Most of the top vehicle marques entered in the WeatherTech Championship are Michelin customers who have chosen Michelin tires for their premier production vehicles," said Pascal Couasnon, global director of motorsport for Michelin Group. “The technology, innovation and relationships that we develop together with the manufacturers in competition helps Michelin to better meet their needs, and ultimately the expectations of their owners and fans."
Michelin’s increased IMSA presence in 2019 includes becoming the exclusive tire for the IMSA Prototype Challenge – which utilizes global LMP3 race cars – and the IMSA Michelin SportsCar Challenge.
“We are seeing tremendous interest in the LMP3, GT4, and TCR classes internationally and are pleased to have the opportunity to work with IMSA to develop these vehicle platforms going forward," Couasnon said.
On an international basis, Michelin currently competes in the FIA World Rally Championship, FIA Formula E Championship, the FIM MotoGP World Championship, and the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), which includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans where Michelin teams have celebrated the overall win for 20 consecutive years.
IMSA also has a long-running strategic partnership with the FIA WEC and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), which organizes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“This collaboration with Michelin will inherently make it more seamless for IMSA teams competing internationally and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and for international teams wishing to compete in the WeatherTech Championship," said Atherton.
Michelin has supported IMSA since the founding of the predecessor American Le Mans Series in 1999 and is the current technical partner of choice of BMW, Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Performance, Porsche GT Team and the Risi Competizione Ferrari in the WeatherTech Championship GT Le Mans class.
Michelin is the official tire of Sebring International Raceway, Road Atlanta, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and VIRginia International Raceway, where it is the title sponsor of the Michelin GT Challenge at VIR.