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Diuguid: ‘Anything on the Table’ in Long Beach Tire Strategy

Porsche Penske managing director Jonathan Diuguid on GTP teams’ varying strategies amid Michelin soft tire utilization…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

Porsche Penske Motorsport managing director Jonathan Diuguid believes that “anything is on the table” in terms of tire strategy for Saturday’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach amid IMSA and Michelin’s move to the soft tire compound for the GTP class.

The winner of last year’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round on the streets of Long Beach, Porsche Penske double-stinted its Michelin tires to propel the No. 6 Porsche 963 of Mathieu Jaminet and Nick Tandy to victory, marking the first win for the German manufacturer’s LMDh car in global competition.

While GTP utilized Michelin’s medium tire in the 2023 edition, a move to the softest compound could open up strategy even more according to Diuguid.

“There’s some changes this year from last year that will make the race even more exciting,” he said. “Michelin is bringing the soft tire for this weekend, which I think will bring even more tire strategy than we had last year.

“Obviously we’re looking to continue the streak of race wins and podium finishes we have in IMSA and with the 7 car leading the championship and Porsche leading the manufacturers’ championship too.

“I think both the 6 and 7 have had really strong performances this year. We’re looking forward to the weekend.”

In addition to the switch to the soft tire, which will be used for the first time in WeatherTech Championship competition outside of the nighttime hours in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, IMSA has allocated up to three of the event’s maximum of four sets to be used between qualifying and the race, an increase of one set from last year.

With the change in mind, Diuguid believes it will be “less likely” teams will run the entire 100-minute race on the same set of tires, but could opt for two-tire changes instead.

“I’m not going to say it’s (full double-stinting) completely off the table because I think, in the previous two years, Long Beach has been relatively caution-free but I think with the street course and two additional GTP cars relative to last year, and more GT cars than we had last year, I think traffic is going to be more of a concern,” he said.

“I think anything is on the table and I think you’ll see people deploying whatever they can to get track position at the tight circuit.

“We wouldn’t say it’s off the table. Cars completing the race on one set of tires is probably unlikely but I think there will be other tire strategies at play.”

Diuguid added: “The one negative about the race is that it’s a short distance so if you make a mistake it’s very difficult to recover.

“I think the positive about that is that the fuel and energy window is quite large so there’s opportunities for people to stop, miss traffic, and do different things like that and also for partial tire changes to have some warmup differences.

“The one thing that’s always been at the top of the strategy list for Long Beach is track position and we use that to our advantage last year and also used our two-car team to put both cars in a 1-2 position to sort of control the race.

“We’ll be seeing teams and drivers looking at all of the opportunities they have, managing traffic and track position to put themselves in a position to where they are going to have to get passed to lose the race.

“I think that’s where the tire strategy is going to come in.”

Jaminet: Soft Tire “New Challenge” for GTP Teams

The utilization of Michelin’s soft tire for the first time in a full race weekend will present a “new challenge” for GTP teams according to Jaminet, who has also reflected on last year’s historic win.

“Last year was very special because we had a very tough start to the program, to the season on both cars, looking at Daytona and Sebring,” the Frenchman said.

“Looking at Long Beach last year, we did not expect to win after Free Practice and qualifying.

“To bring the first win of the 963 is something that stays in the history books for the brand.

“That was pretty cool for us on Car 6 crew because it was the work of everyone because the chance came up from the pit stand in having good strategy. The team work of Car 7 with Matty Campbell, a good mate of mine, who defended and helped for the win.

“At the end, it was perfect teamwork that day. For sure it feels really special to have won that race and to have won in the streets.

“Looking at this year, it would be good to repeat another win. I’m not sure if many people or many teams have wins back to back in Long Beach.

“It’s more cars this year and the competition is tougher. We’ve got some unknowns with the soft tire which we really haven’t run so far in IMSA besides Daytona in the night.

“It’s something very new and a new challenge.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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