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Michelin IMSA Insider: Sebring Bridge Pilot Family Connection

A look at the history and significance of the Michelin Pilot Bridge at Sebring…

Photo: Michelin

Some people may look at the Michelin Pilot Bridge at Sebring’s Turn 17 and see, well a bridge. Others may see it as signage or even a way for drivers to establish their line down the front straightaway.

Michelin sees it in a much different way.

“The Michelin Pilot bridge at Sebring links the paddock to the infield and in that way also represents the link between our MICHELIN® Pilot® Sport GT race tires used by the IMSA teams and our MICHELIN® Pilot® family of tires for consumers,” said Tony Ménard, director of motorsport for Michelin North America.

“Our engineers typically working in the paddock at an IMSA race are frequently the same engineers working to develop our next generations of performance tires for consumers.”

The bridge was installed in 2010 as Michelin became the Official Tire of Sebring International Raceway.

Michelin had won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring overall in each of the previous 11 years with BMW, Audi and Porsche.

With further wins by Peugeot and Audi, Michelin extended the streak to 15 consecutive Sebring wins in open competition prior to the American Le Mans Series and GRAND-AM Rolex Series merger that took effect in 2014. Michelin became the Official Tire of IMSA in 2019.

Photo: Michelin

Meet the Family

Since its debut, Michelin has included the Turn 17 bridge in celebrating the introductions of its highly acclaimed Michelin Pilot Super Sport, Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3, and the entire Michelin Pilot tire family, including the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2, Cup 2 R, Cup 2 Connect and Pilot Sport 4 S.

Michelin arrives at Sebring this week, fresh from the first WeatherTech Championship GT Le Mans pole and victory for the new, mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette C8.R at Daytona, a car for which Michelin is the exclusive tire partner.

Michelin race engineers in IMSA led the development of the Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4 which takes performance to the brink of 1G, a level previously unheard of for an all-season tire.

The fourth-generation tire, or PSAS 4 as its friends call it, launched this month, and has fitments available for a wide swath of the performance market in addition to being standard equipment of the new Corvette C8 Stingray.

Photo: Michelin

Milestones

Ironically, the Michelin Pilot bridge served as the backdrop for a rare moment in automaker track-to street history when Michelin brought together both the GTLM race cars and their corresponding production models from BMW (M6), Chevrolet Corvette (C7), Ferrari (488), Ford (GT) and Porsche (911) at Sebring in February 2017 for a creative content capture day.

It marked the first time that a Ford GT production model and the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT had been filmed together on track.

In addition to its on-track success at Sebring, Corvette Racing began its technical partnership with Michelin in 2004 with its first appearance on Michelin tires. Corvette Racing celebrated its 100th win in IMSA competition, and 77th IMSA win with Michelin, at Daytona earlier this month.

Michelin is the only tire maker, and one of just five manufacturers, with Audi, Corvette, Ferrari, and Porsche to be inducted into the Sebring Hall of Fame.

While the number of Michelin engineers in the paddock this week will be far less than usual due to the COVID-19 limitations on paddock personnel and access, the Michelin bridge will be there for every car, every lap across three IMSA race series.

And while the number of fans in the infield will also be very limited, the flow of Michelin technology from the paddock remains in full force.

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

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