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Michelin, IMSA Working on Expanded Green Initiatives

Michelin, IMSA working on new green racing initiatives for 2019, beyond…

Photo: Michelin

Michelin and IMSA are working to expand its green racing initiatives as part of a “comprehensive approach” by both organizations into 2019 and beyond.

The French tire company, which becomes the Official Tire of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and entitlement partner for both the Michelin Pilot Challenge and Michelin Endurance Cup next year, has ramped up discussions with the sanctioning body on several key areas, including tire allocations, alternative fuels and the series’ overall carbon footprint.

Michelin previously partnered with the American Le Mans Series for the Michelin GreenX Challenge, an efficiency-based competition that morphed into the Dekra Green Challenge, which ran through the 2017 WeatherTech Championship season.

Having maintained its relationships with the U.S. Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency and SAE International since the merger with Grand-Am in 2012, IMSA President Scott Atherton says to expect further news in this area by early next year.

“We’re looking to bring the band back together,” Atherton told Sportscar365. “We were a global leader in green racing and a lot has happened since then. We’re looking to put IMSA back in a leadership role.

“There will soon be some news in the category. We want to make one announcement that covers all the points, all the bases.

“Look for that to come at the Rolex [24] in January, but there will be a comprehensive update to that approach.”

According to Michelin Motorsports North America director Chris Baker, its ramped up activity in the series will go hand-in-hand with any potential initiatives in the green racing scope.

“We’re going to work together to resurrect IMSA Green,” Baker told Sportscar365. “We sort of kicked the ball off a couple of years ago with the American Le Mans Series and Michelin GreenX Challenge.

“That was about tire consumption, fuel and energy footprint.

“What’s coming next, without putting too fine a point on it, is a more comprehensive approach.”

Officials from IMSA, Michelin and the government organizations held a meeting at Road Atlanta last weekend to begin discussions on ways to reinvent “IMSA Green.”

Baker believes it could go beyond the on-track product and include environmentally friendly initiatives throughout the paddock.

“It’s really about reducing the carbon footprint of road racing in North America,” he said. “That could come in a variety of forms, not just things like alternative fuels and reduced tire consumption.

“Think about all the generator sets in use in the paddock. How do you fuel those? Do you maybe convert to solar? Maybe you make use of that in as many opportunities as you can. There are all kinds of opportunities.

“What I really like is that nobody wants to do a smoke and mirrors thing.

“We’re not going to announce anything, we’re not going to talk about all this stuff without having worked on it first, without having developed a plan. Then we’ll say, ‘OK, this is what we’re going to do and here’s the impact that it will have on the carbon footprint of our sport.’

“I think that needs to be the objective and I think other folks agree with us.”

Any immediate changes to impact the sporting regulations for 2019, however, are unlikely, according to Atherton.

It includes any further tightening of tire allocations, which has been discussed although remains a long-term objective.

“I would say that is a goal,” Atherton said. “I don’t want to put a term on it because we will get there as quickly as is practical and safe.

“There are some unknowns right now because Michelin’s involvement with us has been exclusively in the GTLM category.

“To have their first event with the other classes be the Rolex 24 at Daytona, there’s a lot of variables, a lot of unknowns. You can simulate everything and you can test all the time but testing and racing are two different things.”

When asked if the green initiatives could also involved hybrid powertrains, potentially in the next generation of DPi machinery, Atherton said “everything’s on the table.”

“We’re looking forward to it, actually. This is something that I’m personally very interested in,” he said of the green initiatives.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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