Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona rolls out on Saturday, a powerful collaboration featuring IMSA, WEC, manufacturers, and key technology partners like Michelin have already scored a pair of major wins.
The combination of design and engine freedom, hybrid technology, new fuel and tires tell an important story on sustainability and motorsports.
Within the U.S., IndyCar continues to race with two manufacturers while NASCAR uses three.
Starting in 2023, the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTP class showcases four manufacturers; Acura, BMW, Cadillac, and Porsche, exciting new GTP cars, with more in the wings in 2024.
IMSA’s leadership in sustainability is highly relevant to the 17 manufacturers entered in the Rolex 24 and Michelin Pilot Challenge weekend. Some are manufacturers and teams seen in other forms of motorsport, but many are not.
Michelin, the Official Tire of IMSA and winner of the last 25 editions of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has a long history demonstrating the importance of sustainability.
In 2009, when the American Le Mans Series became the first official “green racing” series recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy, EPA, and SAE International, Michelin immediately became the exclusive sponsor of the Michelin Green X Challenge.
The title promoted the company’s established line of Michelin Green X energy efficient tires. Through the first five years of the challenge, fifteen different manufacturers claimed the Prototype or GT race awards.
A tire maker seeking to reduce tire usage in motorsports may seem counter-intuitive, but for Michelin, it is part of a much bigger commitment.
Michelin believes that sustainable motorsport requires a balance of people, profit, and planet. Everything from the tire design, selection of materials, logistics, transportation and 16 more indicators are part of Michelin’s measures with the global footprint of tires through their life cycle.
Technology Enables Reduced Allocations
One of the major changes in 2023 IMSA GTP competition is a significant reduction in tire allocations, an approach made possible by a combination of Michelin experience and technical innovations
Through the years, Michelin has successfully double, triple, and even quadruple stinted tires in the top prototype class at Le Mans while maintaining consistent tire performance.
In the 2011 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the sole remaining Audi R18 TDI prevailed in a tense fight with three Peugeot 908s to take the victory by just 13 seconds. The key to victory was an incredible 55-lap, 466-mile quintuple stint by Audi’s Benoit Treluyer (pictured below).
At Le Mans in 2015, the race winning Porsche 919 Hybrid used just ten sets of Michelin tires as it covered 395 laps of the 8.469 miles circuit, a total of 3,345 miles at an average speed of 139.32 mph.
Mathieu Bonardel, Director of Motorsports for Michelin worldwide advises that the first Michelin street tires with more than 40 percent sustainable materials will arrive in the passenger car and bus markets within the next three years.
“Motorsports played a vital role in the development process,” said Bonardel.