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Michelin IMSA Insider: The Long Game

A flashback to Michelin’s record-setting 2019 and look ahead to the ‘long game’ ahead…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

The dawn of a new IMSA season offers one final chance to look back at 2019, and to take a quick look ahead at what to expect in 2020.

Although it wasn’t a priority, Michelin’s 2019 season became “the year of records,” with 90 of a possible 114 IMSA records set in qualifying or the race.

Looking ahead to 2020, a “One Michelin” focus will cover several new product launches, a continued commitment to the IMSA paddock, and an opportunity to tell other aspects of the Michelin story as it heads into year two of its long-term relationship as the Official Tire of IMSA.

Photo: Michelin

Quick, Widespread Integration

With more than 40 Michelin engineers and motorsport tire specialists descending on Daytona to begin their work with IMSA teams, a bevy of performance gains followed up and down the paddock.

Michelin aims to deliver performance to all teams. By the end of the weekend, nearly all the teams in both the WeatherTech Championship and MICHELIN Pilot Challenge paddocks had set best laps quicker than in 2018.

All but one of the 47 cars in the Rolex 24 At Daytona set a faster race lap than the best lap in 2018. The number was similarly high in Michelin Pilot Challenge as well, with 44 of 49 cars dipping under the 2018 best race lap mark.

Photo: Michelin

Consistent Runs

One of the keys to Michelin’s record-setting 2019 campaign on-track was that the tire performance over a full stint was more consistent with modest increases in lap times.  

Consistency is key over a stint for the Silver and Bronze-rated drivers, who can expect predictable and consistent tire performance from their Michelin Pilot Sport GT racing slicks.

That goal for 2020 is best illustrated in the four IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup rounds. Consistency is key over a stint for the Silver and Bronze-rated drivers, who can expect a more durable, longer lasting tire in that time frame.

“We are not there to offer a great tire performance for a few laps. We are there to optimize the duration and make sure the stints are done in perfect conditions,” says Tony Ménard, new Michelin North America motorsports director.

“In the Michelin Endurance Cup, the longest races, that’s the best territory to speak about this long-lasting performance.”

Acura’s 2019 GT Daytona class champion, Trent Hindman, won a class-high three pole positions, with his fastest laps often coming towards the end of his qualifying runs.

“No matter what the condition is, the tire stays extremely consistent over the course of a short stint. It’s getting quicker and quicker and constantly improving,” Hindman said after his pole position at Watkins Glen International, the third of four Michelin Endurance Cup rounds, and one his team won on Sunday.

“It’s certainly interesting to see a tire get better and better as you get closer to laps nine and 10, and so forth.”

Photo: Michelin

A Look Ahead

Cool to moderate temperatures and the possible threat of rain beckon during the weekend. But if the weather and track conditions align, there could be more record-breaking moments in 2020.

Consistency is key, and the similar nature of Michelin’s offerings year-to-year should allow teams and brands to continue to improve performance.

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

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