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IMSA to Limit GTLM Tire Selections in 2017

IMSA to hold GTLM tire test later this month to 2017 tires…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

With an eye towards next year, GT Le Mans teams are set to return to Road Atlanta later this month for an IMSA-sanctioned tire test, aimed to help each manufacturer finalize its single tire selections for the 2017 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

The one-day test, held at the 2.54-mile circuit at the end of October, will be open to all five GTLM manufacturers, where they’ll evaluate a range of Michelin tire options, including three medium-cool range temperature tires and two medium-medium temperature tires for 2017 competition.

It’s unclear if Porsche, with its new-for-2017 911 GTE car, believed to feature a new mid-rear engine placement, will be present at the test.

This test is understood to be the first of its kind in IMSA, where manufacturers will be able to test tire options that have been designed for their competition, although Michelin has often conducted similar tests in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

“We agreed with IMSA that Road Atlanta is a good venue as the circuit is demanding of tires and well known by the GTLM teams who will have recent data from race week for comparison,” said Ken Payne, technical director, motorsports, Michelin North America.

The test, run in partnership by IMSA and Michelin, will determine the Michelin tires each manufacturer will utilize in the entire WeatherTech Championship season next year.

Manufacturers will be able to mix-and-match tire options from Michelin’s full range to determine each car’s final configuration. While cold and medium options will be evaluated, the entire GTLM field expected to remain on the same hot range temperature tire for next year.

It effectively ends in-season tire developments, which has been a crucial part of the GTLM class.

In 2015, Michelin debuted its “single stint” tires for the Road America and VIR rounds, which delivered a significant performance increase that was created specifically for IMSA’s pit stop rules.

This past season saw the French tire manufacturer roll out its 2016 WEC tires at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May, after starting the year off on 2015 specification rubber.

Porsche, meanwhile, reverted to the previous year’s medium compound tire prior to the Lime Rock Park round in July, as part of a Balance of Performance adjustment issued by IMSA.

IMSA’s change in philosophy of locking in tire selections for each manufacturer will result in WeatherTech Championship teams utilizing different tires than in the WEC next year.

It’s understood Michelin is designing longer-lasting multi-stint tires for the WEC to accommodate the championship’s further limit on the number of tires used per weekend for 2017.

The change could have a significant impact on teams and manufacturers, such as Ford, Porsche and Ferrari, which all have cars present in both championships, as well as U.S.-based teams, such as Corvette, taking part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

When reached by Sportscar365, IMSA declined comment on the upcoming test and its decision to lock tire selections per manufacturer, for next year.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John



  1. BobG

    October 4, 2016 at 9:37 am

    So, one more step towards “Nascarization” by limiting the strategic decisions to be made by the teams. F1 requires all four tires to be the same, napcar dictates transmission and rear-end ratios, now IMSA is going to limit tire choices at a race. Sports cars were the last bastion of engineering freedom, looks like that is being limited.

    • Bakkster

      October 4, 2016 at 11:08 am

      On the other hand, fans all complained about the BoP when Michelin would bring a tire that worked better for some cars than others (the single-stint tire that advantaged Porsche and Ferrari, for instance).

      IMSA’s damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

  2. Mark - Toronto

    October 4, 2016 at 9:57 am

    I wonder if IMSA reserves the right to impose mid-season changes themselves as a BOP tool.

  3. NathanB

    October 4, 2016 at 10:30 am

    This doesn’t make sense to me. I thought the only reason that GTLM was allowed tire choices was so they’d be able to learn the tires they’d run at Le mans, now they’re going to not be able to run those tires, yet aren’t being forced to run Continentals either. I understand Continental being the title sponsor, but since they got GTLM out from this, I’d think opening up tire brands would make sense, I think IMSA would benifit if they could get Dunlop in (relabel them Goodyear for IMSA since Goodyear owns Dunlop) and add another level of competition.

    • Jack

      October 4, 2016 at 10:51 am

      Could see Dunlop at Daytona if Aston Martin shows up.

  4. Jack

    October 4, 2016 at 10:48 am

    I was at the race, and I think the reason they are doing this is not for the gte class per say. I think it’s because of class parity, it took the prototypes, a very long time to get by the gte cars, and they could barely outbreak them. Coming out of 7 and 11 the gte card got a better run off the corners. I think they don’t want the gte cars to get faster ATM. So they don’t encroach on the the pc’s for next season, or beat prototypes in tricky conditions.

    • Jareth Belanger

      October 24, 2016 at 8:04 pm

      2017 P2 cars will be a faster….

  5. Jack

    October 4, 2016 at 10:52 am

    Wait John, what if Dunlop shows up? How does this affect them if they wanted to race at Daytona with Aston?

    • Mark - Toronto

      October 4, 2016 at 12:25 pm

      Well, technically it’s still an open class for tires isn’t it? Despite Michelin being the only participants at present. But can a team making a Michelin selection for the upcoming year elect to change tire manufacturers next year mid-season? Are they committing to just the tire spec, or the manufacturer as well?

      • NathanB

        October 4, 2016 at 12:49 pm

        I’m guessing most are locked in due to contracts with Michelin even if IMSA would allow it. Ford Performance said they are equipping every production car with Michelin’s (not sure where Ford Performance line officialy starts, obviously Ford GT, GT350 and Focus RS, not sure about ST models), and I believe I heard Michelin say the same that every Corvette comes with Michelins. Not sure about Ferrari and Porsche, but I’m betting they’ve got some leverage there too.

      • Jack

        October 4, 2016 at 8:43 pm

        I’m specifically talking about Aston, as they currently use Dunlop tires. So if they wanted to race in imsa, what do they do?

  6. David Chaste

    October 4, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    There must be some Continental Tire influence here. They could slowly kill the class. Manufacturers do not want much standardization. They prefer bespoke parts. Set standards are for customer teams. This could make it harder for IMSA teams to win LeMans.

  7. Allen

    October 4, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    I have no doubt that this does not make Michelin happy. Why upset one of your biggest partners? It just makes no sense.

    Did anyone else at Petit notice there was no Michelin hospitality tent on spectator hill? Hasn’t it always been there for Petit? Perhaps the wheels (get it?) are already turning and Michelin isn’t as excited as it once was to be a part of this series.

  8. Andy

    October 4, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Now the WEC cars have to use s different tire as they get less sets per race weekend. This is the most negative I read here. The IMSA cars get more sets so they get a wider choice of tires. Can’t see the problem on this side of the pond

    • Jack

      October 4, 2016 at 8:42 pm

      They get a wider choice, but they can only use what they choose for the season. Have less sets they can use during the race, but can change compounds whenever they feel like it. Imsa teams can only use 1 compound throughout the season.

  9. Handy Trashbin

    October 4, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    *Insert poster’s name whom you are addressing here* Comma

    Hit Enter twice

    *Insert bold-faced lie here* Period Double Space *Proceed to slavishly shove head up IMSA’s ass* Period Double Space *Insert bold-faced lie #2 here* Period

    • Evan

      October 5, 2016 at 12:00 am

      This post wins the Internet.

  10. Troll Me

    October 5, 2016 at 3:50 am

    Look at my tinfoil hat, isn’t it neat?

    I can feel the good vibrations from Jordan Taylor and Marky Mark from here.

    *The grassy knoll shot JFK under orders from Continental Tire*
    *Jet Fuel cannot melt a Michelin racing slick*

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