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Michelin to Become Official Tire of IMSA Beginning in 2019

Michelin to become new official tire of IMSA beginning in 2019…

Photo: Michelin

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 and GT Daytona race car competing in the WeatherTech Championship in addition to its continued participation in the GT Le Mans class.

The GTLM class will continue to be open to multiple tire manufacturers.

The 2019 IMSA Michelin SportsCar Challenge will feature the 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.”

Michelin replaces Continental Tire, which had been the exclusive tire provider for the P, GTD and Challenge series.

“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.

It replaces Tequila Patron, which has sponsored the Endurance Cup since its inception.

The four-round competition recognizes top competitors in each class in the four WeatherTech Championship major endurance races.

It 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 MICHELIN® Pilot® Sport family of ultra-high performance tires.

“Michelin does not enter into long-term collaborations lightly or solely for our own benefit.

“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.”

Added Pascal Couasnon, global director of motorsport for Michelin Group: “Most of the top vehicle marques entered in the WeatherTech Championship are Michelin customers who have chosen Michelin tires for their premier production vehicles.

“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, 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 WEC and the 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.

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51 Comments

51 Comments

  1. Parker

    September 20, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Well that was quick

    • Alric8

      September 20, 2017 at 11:24 am

      Unlike DPis with Continental tires.

      • Kyle

        September 20, 2017 at 11:26 am

        lol

        Gonna be interesting seeing what our stateside LMP2s/DPis can do on Michelins. Track records will be broken.

        • EH

          September 20, 2017 at 1:17 pm

          If recent history is an indication those records will last for a few hours at Sebring when the WEC Dunlops come out.

        • Jordan

          September 20, 2017 at 2:24 pm

          Which track records?

          IMSA won’t beat 1:06.2 at Road Atlanta (2008 Peugeot 908)

          That is the offical track record. An unofficial time clocked by a major ALMS team had the 2008 Peugeot 908 in the mid 1:05s in practice.

          IMSA won’t beat Which track records?

          IMSA won’t beat 1:06.2 at Road Atlanta (2008 Peugeot 908)

          That is the offical track record. An unofficial time clocked by a major ALMS team had the 2008 Peugeot 908 in the mid 1:05s in practice.

          IMSA won’t beat 1:43.886 at Sebring (2013 Audi).

          This is the official track record. The 2008 Peugeot 908 was in the 1:42s in winter testing and racer.com reported that the 2015 Audi beat the track record in testing that year.

          There is a very good chance the 2019 WEC Sebring race could see the pole time drop below 1 minute 40 seconds.

          • Andy Flinn

            September 20, 2017 at 7:00 pm

            Jordan, why are you comparing DPis to LMP1s?

            Considering that DPis are based on four LMP2 chassis that seems more than just a bit unfair right?

            What’s next? Are we going to compare DPi lap times to Indy cars at Road America?

          • Jordan

            September 20, 2017 at 8:51 pm

            Just posting basic facts to the texts of “track records will be broken”.

          • Jack

            September 20, 2017 at 9:16 pm

            Pugeot did a 1:02 in testing according to people that work at track.

        • Jeff Wagner

          September 20, 2017 at 10:58 pm

          Kyle: The “Outright Lap Record” at Mosport won’t get close to being touched!

  2. Corner Five Fan

    September 20, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Congregations to Michelin, welcome back !

  3. Mr Muffins

    September 20, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Immediate 2-3 second/ lap speed increase incoming?

    • Mr Muffins

      September 20, 2017 at 11:27 am

      I mean to say in 2019.

      • Tyler Sanders

        September 20, 2017 at 11:50 am

        Defintitly that should be the case.

  4. kevlow

    September 20, 2017 at 11:37 am

    Wow.

    DPI/LMP2 and GTD may have just got 2 seconds faster.

    Will this cause an issue with the performance bracket for GTD? It will suddenly be very close to the times of GTLM.

    • Guest

      September 20, 2017 at 11:52 am

      GTLM cars should be quicker by 2019. GT3 cars hopefully finally are reigned in and will stop getting quicker every year (more expensive).

      Then again, in 2019, GT4 may be as fast as GT3 today. Thanks for letting Audi and Mercedes enter their flagship supercars, basically GT3 with smaller wings and wheel arches.

      • tracer

        September 20, 2017 at 3:29 pm

        No chance of GT4 getting even remotely close to GT3 performance levels by 2019.

    • Ex-IMSA-Tech

      September 20, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Well, since the Michelin tires bring higher performance thus quicker laptimes including the Prototype classes, I think the curse on the GTLM restrictors will finally go away thus being faster… Don’t forget that the GTLM secretly has been restricted because without the restrictors they could’ve been as fast as the Prototypes on Continental tires, and that was the forbidden fruit in IMSA, a GT car as fast a a Prototype was a big NO NO…. I’m looking forward to see what chassis/manufacturers rise to the top with proper tires.

      • Andres

        September 20, 2017 at 1:59 pm

        Obviously Team Joest Mazda, Team Penske and WTR, what other do you think it will be?? some amateur LMP2 team??

  5. Name

    September 20, 2017 at 11:38 am

    Michelin Endurance Cup

    So maybe IMSA will adopt rules that actually make tire endurance important? Instead of this take tires every stop because they’re unlimited and take no extra time to change (because you can fuel at the same time)

    • NaBUru38

      September 20, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      I would love IMSA to forbid teams to change tires whilerefuelling.

      • Jeff Wagner

        September 20, 2017 at 10:28 pm

        You are ABSOLUTELY 100% right!

    • billthe3

      September 20, 2017 at 3:53 pm

      That was one of the things that annoyed me the most post-merger. They got rid of the ALMS/WEC rules of no other work on the car during refueling.

    • John

      September 20, 2017 at 6:09 pm

      Why? I’d rather see the cars being able to race and run flat out, not having to conserve tires.

      • Jimbo

        September 20, 2017 at 7:34 pm

        Being light on your tires is a staple of endurance racing. Cars/drivers who can take care of their tires better should be rewarded by saving time in the pits by not having to change tires or only changing two.

        You pretty much need a six hour race for tire strategy to really become a factor. The sprint races would be pretty much the same thing as now, but at the end there could be some situations like WEC Fuji 2016. One car took four fresh tires, one car only took two, and one car took none. One of the most exciting finishes in recent history.

        • Jeff Wagner

          September 20, 2017 at 10:39 pm

          The #1 REASON for not fueling and changing tires at the same time is the MAJOR SAFETY benefit, the other benefits are a bonus. THAT is the reason and the reason ONLY for that rule being implemented. It needs to be brought back NOW for the SAFETY of all, NO EXCUSES!

  6. Mark - Toronto

    September 20, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Is it worth noting that this may help align specifications between multiple series in the future? One of the challenges (minor as it may seem) was that Continental had no presence in other series. So a European P2 team unfamiliar with Continentals would have to run them in an IMSA event . Conversely, an IMSA P2 team going to Le Mans would have to choose between running a Continental tire with no data specific to that unique track (would that even advised)…or run on tires that the team was familiar with. At least this removes that barrier to an extent. Although I think just about every P2 WEC team is currently on Dunlops…and I seem to remember that even among GTE Michelin teams…technically the IMSA tire spec is a little different from the WEC spec.

    Regardless, from a fan’s perspective – Continental did a lot for this series. And not to be overlooked, on occasion during unsettling times. So as a fan – I’ll say THANK YOU to Continental for their support over the years!

  7. Mike D

    September 20, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    Provided for comparison.
    RACE fastest laps at COTA (IMSA in May, WEC in September)
    Both cars ORECA 07-Gibson

    Stephen Simpson, Continental: 1:57.851
    Lapierre/Menezes/Negrao, Dunlop: 1:55.427 (unsure who was in the car when time was set)

    Many other factors, too. Weather, smaller sample size for IMSA, etc.

    • Jordan

      September 20, 2017 at 2:28 pm

      I don’t think IMSA enforces track limits either so that probably gained them some time relative to WEC.

      • Matt

        September 20, 2017 at 3:05 pm

        The fastest qualifying time for the IMSA prototypes was a 1:54.809 from the Cadillac dpi #10. Compare that to the oreca lmp2 pole time of 1:54.031.

        • Jordan

          September 21, 2017 at 2:32 am

          Careful,

          Basic facts make Andy Flinn angry.

          Hence why ten-tenths banned him, because they didn’t want to listen to his stupidity anymore.

      • Andy Flinn

        September 20, 2017 at 9:36 pm

        Jordan, IMSA typically races on circuits with their own obvious track limits.

        Many IMSA teams aren’t used to the artificial track limits imposed on them at boring, sanitized FIA Grade 1 runway circuits like CoTA.

        For example, at an IMSA track like Road Atlanta, well, just ask Scott Sharp….

        Sebring in the dark in 2019 will be a much greater “track limits” challenge for the WEC drivers in 2019.

        At Road Atlanta, well, just ask Scott Sharp….

        • Jordan

          September 21, 2017 at 2:30 am

          Does nothing to dispel my point. IMSA COTA times are artificially close to WEC because IMSA won’t enforce track limits.

          Oh and runways are flat. COTA is not.

  8. jason

    September 20, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    I hope that this won’t put all GT races in jeopardy in the future. I have enjoyed VIR being all GT. I think one reason IMSA kept it that way is because Michelin was the race sponsor and they probably wanted a Michelin winning overall which has been the case.

    • NASCAR/DPs Suck

      September 20, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      I think VIR is safe as they just signed an agreement to partner with Michelin as well-should work out well for both sides.

      • jason

        September 20, 2017 at 12:56 pm

        I don’t doubt VIR’s place on the schedule. I am worried that with Michelin as the tire for all classes now that it might put the all GT race format in jeopardy.

        • tracer

          September 20, 2017 at 3:34 pm

          You’re worried about seeing prototypes flying through the climbing esses again? 🤔

    • Anon

      September 20, 2017 at 12:57 pm

      Wouldn’t worry too much. Not only are the GT events popular, it would probably be too much running to have prototype there (and at Lime Rock it wouldn’t work).

  9. Kirk

    September 20, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    But the most important question is what will happen to the Continental Tires girls at the races? Will they now be Michelin girls. Will we only have the Michelin man at the races? Geez I hope not.

    • billthe3

      September 20, 2017 at 3:56 pm

      There will still be the Weathertech girls.

      • Steven

        September 20, 2017 at 5:34 pm

        And the Patron girls

  10. pierre

    September 20, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    i would say this a move in order to support the attempts at globally merging the north american series with all the rest

  11. JaymondoGB

    September 20, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Will be interesting to see if they will be the same part as the WEC, specially the P2/DPI version.

  12. LarryHorse

    September 20, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    Wonder is this happening with Joest and Penske coming in that this switch is coming, other than money. Michelin is a quality product and some of the GTDs had some expensive problems with Contis at Daytona I thought. Continental has done a good job with at the track promotion. I still wonder if RP has a hand in this.

  13. C6rick

    September 20, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    This has nothing to a global positioning of IMSA with the rest. If that was the case, then DPi would have an open tire rule and not just for GTLM. For P2, open tire rule and Dunlop is the tire of choice right now because it’s the best. If you want global positioning, then you must make P2 run a spec Michelin and ban all other manufacturers (which right now is Dunlop). As for all of the other classes, GTD/GT3, GT4 run on spec non-Michelins and only TCR and LMP3 run on spec Michelins. It’s just a way for Michelin to keep out any other tire supplier in IMSA and all they did, was write a bigger check than Continental was going to do. You can complain all you want about Continental but Michelin is doing the same exact thing. I guess since it’s not a legacy Grand-Am product, then it’s just fine.

    • Blue Oval fan

      September 20, 2017 at 5:28 pm

      NO this comes from Daytona, they only want 1 tire supplier, just like NASCAR.
      It has nothing to do with anything else. Daytona likes the “exclusivety” thing that way there is no open competition. It’s only allowed in GTLM because the manufacterers balked at not allowing different tire brands.

      • Andy Flinn

        September 20, 2017 at 9:43 pm

        Blue, there is NO tire competition in IMSA GTLM.

        Corvette, BMW, Porsche, Ferrari – and yes, Ford – ALL race on Michelins.

        • Jordan

          September 21, 2017 at 2:25 am

          Because they all chose Michelins of their own free will.

          They can choose to race Dunlops or any other tire company if they want to.

    • Jimbo

      September 20, 2017 at 7:38 pm

      The difference is that Michelin actually makes good tires, the best really, that’s why everyone in GTLM runs them. Open tires for all classes would have been awesome though.

  14. Juninho

    September 20, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup in 2019

    GTE-Pro (Michelin/Dunlop)
    Pro-Am (Pirelli)

    IMSA Michelin SportsCar Challenge in 2019

    LMP3 (Michelin)
    GT4 (Michelin)
    TCR (Michelin)

    • Juninho

      September 20, 2017 at 9:58 pm

      IMSA Prototype Challenge in 2019

      LMP3 (Michelin)
      MPC (Michelin)

      IMSA Michelin SportsCar Challenge in 2019

      GS (GT4)
      ST (TCR)

  15. Jeremy

    September 21, 2017 at 9:00 am

    2018 Daytona Headlines: Kevin Buckler withdraws from IMSA championship citing poor performance out of the Michelin tires.

    Cant wait!

    In all seriousness, although not the most superior tire Continental did a tremendous amount of service for IMSA with a signifigant investment over the past year or so after all the flack they took a few years ago. Personally I think they will be truly missed by some of the fans with their great PR work in the paddocks at all the IMSA events. Looking forward to see what Michelin brings to the table.

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