Michelin’s updated DPi/LMP2 tire for the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season has seen gains in balance and drivability according to Michelin North America motorsports technical director Ken Payne.
Embarking on its second year as the official tire of IMSA, Michelin has made off-season developments to its semi-confidential prototype compounds, aimed to create a more consistent balance over a full stint.
Payne explained the “evolution” of the tire follows advancements made to the global-spec utilized in the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series.
“It’s following what we used in LMP2 in WEC, but based on our observations that we had with the teams in 2019 in remains an IMSA-specific tire,” Payne said.
“Again, we’re having a medium and a hard [compound] just as we did in 2019, but we did some development efforts to improve the balance of the tires.
“The feedback that we typically got from the teams last year was that at times the front-rear balance was a little bit of a struggle.
“The work was done to try and optimize the tire design and performance to help them have a more consistent balance with the car over the full length of the stint.
“We really weren’t focused on making faster lap times, but at least the very early data in season two indicates that the pace will be as good or slightly quicker than in 2019.”
Development began in the middle of last year, where the French tire manufacturer worked with several teams post-season testing in preparation for 2020.
While Daytona’s track qualifying record went unbroken this weekend due to changing track conditions, Mazda Team Joest’s Olivier Pla dipped below Oliver Jarvis’ record-setting time from last year at the Roar Before the Rolex 24.
Payne said it’s been satisfying to see lap times already slightly faster than last year, even if the developments weren’t intended to improve performance.
“Absolutely. We’re all racers. We all want to go faster,” he said.
“We recognize that if you make the tire more driver friendly and predictable that leads to more speed.
“If the driver is more confident that the driver is going to behave the way that is expected underneath them they will be more comfortable extracting 100 percent out of the tire and the chassis.”
The DPi/LMP2 tires aren’t the only new compounds from Michelin this year, as the GT Le Mans teams are also using new rubber that was developed for the 2019-20 WEC season.
Ménard: Continued Corvette Collaboration “Great Opportunity”
New Michelin North America motorsports director Tony Ménard has praised the close collaboration with Corvette Racing, which has continued into the mid-engined C8.R that is making its competition debut this weekend.
Chevrolet’s road-going C8, which hits showroom floors in the coming months, comes factory equipped on Michelins.
“It was a very good opportunity to make the development in collaboration with the car design and to include as well the full dimension of the business including the street car,” Ménard said.
“The street version of the Corvette will use the Pilot Sport [All] Season 4, which is a new line that will be launched in a few months.
“We have been able to make co-development of the street car and co-development on the racing car so it’s a great opportunity.
“Being French, just arriving here, when I see hundreds of people gathering around the Corvette stand, you say wow!
“The chance we have with IMSA to live in an environment where it’s not one or two years, it’s a long term partnership with the carmakers, this is exactly what we want to do.”