Michelin has introduced RFID tire tracking into the IMSA paddock, with the French tire giant evaluating potential future options with the technology, according to Michelin Motorsports North America technical director Ken Payne.
The radio frequency identification chips, which are currently installed on to each dry weather tire, are coupled with a vehicle identification tag to provide Michelin and IMSA with tracking data related to tire allocations.
While a similar system already exists in the FIA World Endurance Championship, RFID chips were first utilized by IMSA teams during Michelin’s On-Track Opportunity at Road Atlanta following October’s Motul Petit Le Mans and has been in use since.
“2019 is going to be an opportunity for us to learn how to take full advantage of that system,” Michelin’s Payne told Sportscar365. “It’s successfully detecting the tires on the car and telling us things.”
Payne said the technology provided Michelin with a “learning curve” in last month’s Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore at Sebring, when it flagged tires that were not used in qualifying due to the car not having taken part in the session altogether.
“There’s some things like that that we found that are good one-off occurrences and opportunities for us to better learn how to use the system,” Payne said.
“The long term goal is that it’ll be able to help us track the tire allocations and consumption vs. allocation throughout an event, and to be able to track the start on what you qualify, which is going to be a requirement for 2019 across the board, [in] all the classes, and evolve away from the practice of tire marking.”
While initially used for tracking purposes only, Payne said there’s been “discussions” on further uses of the RFID chips, including the potential for integrations into the race broadcasts that would display tire-related data.
“That’s the grad-school program,” he said. “We’re still in elementary school!
“For instance, GTLM where there are mixed compounds in place, you could detect that. Even in the Challenge classes, we’d be able to pick up things like: that car didn’t change tires, they’re double stinting, or they only changed right side tires or they only changed rear tires.
“We see things like that that we’ll be able to get out of it and as we get comfortable using the system we’ll look at how we can take advantage of that and feed tidbits to the media or put it in the broadcasts.”