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Michelin IMSA Insider: The VIR Vibe

Alton, Virginia is a small town, yet it delivers a big presence for Michelin, IMSA…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

You won’t find Alton, Va., population 2,218 residents, on the list of largest markets in the United States. What you will find is an ideal setting for the Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway, featuring IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD and GTD Pro, Michelin Pilot Challenge GS and TCR and VP Racing SportsCar Challenge for LMP3 and GT4 classes.

Rather than seeing its rural location as a detriment, the creative and energetic VIR staff sees its circuit, facilities, and surroundings, less than one mile from the North Carolina border, as key attributes.

They extend its marketing range to Richmond, Raleigh, Charlotte, and beyond to draw fans, car clubs, and families to the friendly, relaxed infield, open paddock and near non-stop track action.

For the GT teams and drivers, the opportunity to headline the weekend, race for the overall win on the challenging circuit, and engage with fans, clubs and fellow racers makes it a welcomed weekend.

Faster Than Lightning

Since 2006, car makers have been invited to deliver their latest production vehicles to compete for prestigious Car and Driver Lightning Lap honors, billed as “The Hottest Cars on America’s Toughest Track.”

While IMSA races on the challenging 3.27-mile road course, the C/D editors selected the even longer 4.1-mile VIR Grand Circuit with long straightaways, heavy braking and acceleration zones, elevation changes and fast, flowing technical corners for an especially comprehensive test of performance.

With 18 manufacturers in IMSA competition, many of the Michelin GT Challenge entrants are race versions or first cousins of the Lightning Lap entries.

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

The OE Connection

For Michelin, now in its fifth season as the Official Tire of IMSA, the eighth Michelin GT Challenge at VIR represents a recognition of grassroots racing at a venue that is home to teams, club racers, and a Michelin testing venue.

Not surprisingly, many of the manufacturer’s top production models entered in the C/D Lightning Lap come equipped with Michelin tires as original equipment.

The Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche 718 Cayman, BMW M4 CSL and M240i xDrive, Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing, Mercedes-AMG SL63, Toyota GR Supra and GR Corolla, Honda Civic Type R., and Hyundai Elantra N all delivered notable performances having chosen tires from the highly successful Michelin Pilot Sport family.

Depending on their vehicle, design, size, power, and objectives, the various manufacturers chose Pilot Sport 4S, Pilot Sport Cup 2, Pilot Super Sport, and Pilot Sport Cup2R ZP fitments.

And, completing the circle, IMSA teams entered in this weekend’s Michelin GT Challenge at VIR will race on the same Michelin Pilot S9M race slicks available for track use by club, vintage, and track day performance enthusiasts.

The latest news, photos and video features from the trusted Sportscar365 web staff.

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