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Michelin Insider: IMSA’s Two-Wheel Connection

A look at IMSA’s two-wheeled connection ahead of this weekend’s round at Road America…

Photo: Michelin

IMSA and MotoGP share several similarities in 2020 that revolve around the number two.

IMSA was the first of Michelin’s five global racing championships to return to racing, with two races in Florida at Daytona and Sebring.

MotoGP, Michelin’s lone two-wheel series, was the second to return and kicked off its revised calendar with a pair of races at Jerez in Spain.

Both series have had back-to-back winners since restarting.

Corvette Racing and AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus have won both races in IMSA GT Le Mans and GT Daytona, respectively. Meanwhile in MotoGP, Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo has opened the year with a pair of victories.

The MotoGP riders are competing this year with a new MICHELIN Power Slick rear tire, designed to provide increased grip, durability and performance.

IMSA drivers would be in a bad spot with only two wheels on track. Off-track, many are avid cyclists, which they use to prepare for competition.

Michelin’s two-wheel product lines fall under an overall, unified “One Michelin” message. “One Michelin” is focused on sustained mobility and covers Michelin’s range and breadth of products that extend beyond the racetrack.

IMSA’s Cycling Contingent

Many GT Le Mans class drivers are avid cyclists. Porsche’s Laurens Vanthoor and Corvette’s Oliver Gavin often banter back-and-forth about their rides.

Their respective teammates Earl Bamber and Antonio Garcia, respectively, have also got in more miles since arriving Stateside in mid-June.

“We’re in Florida at the Laurens Vanthoor cycling academy for the next two weeks,” Bamber joked ahead of Daytona.

“I’ve done more miles than ever on the bike, so feeling sharp from that point of view.”

BMW Team RLL’s contingent also cycles regularly. Americans Connor De Phillippi and John Edwards often post about their rides.

Edwards’ teammate, Jesse Krohn, has spent his time in the U.S. biking frequently and for long distances with his Finnish countryman Toni Vilander of Scuderia Corsa.

On July 6, Vilander revealed he and Krohn completed a 333-kilometer (206 mile) bike ride in 13 hours and 12 minutes for an average of 25.1-kilometer (15.5 mile) per hour from Daytona Beach to Lantana. Vanthoor praised the ride in the comments section.

Acura Team Penske has a handful of cyclists in its arsenal. Ricky Taylor and his endurance race teammate Simon Pagenaud participated in George Hincapie’s Gran Fondo Hincapie ride through the Blue Ridge Mountains outside Greenville, S.C. last October.

Last year’s DPi champions Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron have also started cycling more regularly.

Others such as Jordan Taylor, Lee Niffenegger (Honda Performance Development), Ray Lee (Compass Racing) and Jeff Mishtawy (IMSA Senior Manager – Technical Regulation and Homologation) are among those found biking when not at the track.

A Road America Without the Bike Ride

The adjusted nature of IMSA weekends in 2020 mean most extra at-track activities are eliminated. One such casualty is Road America’s regular Friday night track bike ride.

A regular part of the weekend over the years, IMSA competitors would take to Road America’s 4.048-mile circuit, part of the massive 640-acre facility, for one of the tougher biking challenges.

It’s one thing to drive the circuit with several hundred horsepower race cars. It’s quite another to handle the track’s 176 feet of elevation change, particularly the run up the hill out of Turn 14 to start/finish.

Michelin Bike Tire Lines

Beyond the track, it’s worth noting that Michelin also has an extensive line of bike tires.

Michelin’s portfolio of road, city and mountain bike tires provide optimum performance in a variety of cycling applications.

From the casual rider to the professional athlete, Michelin provides a consumer-focused approach to research and development that builds on the Company’s knowledge of the cycling industry since 1891.

Greenville, S.C. is also Michelin’s North American headquarters and as noted, it’s a biking hot spot year-round.

So research and development doesn’t just occur from race tires; it also occurs in two-wheel territory.

Photo: Michelin

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