Michelin’s endurance racing program manager says that it has been a “challenge” for the French supplier to develop a single tire that will be used by all LMDh and LMH teams.
The tire that will be used in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s new GTP class will be the same as the one found in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s Hypercar category.
Pierre Alves told Sportscar365 that Michelin needed to consider a wide range of operating conditions for its global 2023 tire.
“The challenge we had is to make a tire that works in the WEC with the specificities of Bahrain, Le Mans and Spa, and also tires that can work at American race events,” he said.
“It will be the same tire. The tire that will run in Daytona in January will be the tire that we use full-season in WEC and Le Mans.
“It was a request from the FIA and WEC to have the same tires for everyone.
“This was our biggest challenge because we needed to have suitable tires for LMH and LMDh. Because they are different [cars] even if they are on the same aero package.
“They have a different weight balance. There is four and two-wheel drive.
“We had to develop a tire that covers all the needs that we face today, because we don’t know what future cars will be coming. This is the tire and we have to make the tire work on that.”
Alves added: “What we will offer for Hypercar next year is exactly the same offer whether the cars are LMH, LMDh, pure combustion engine or hybrid.
“The only difference is Peugeot, which is the same range but a different size. Otherwise, it’s all exactly the same tire.”
IMSA’s sanctioned test at Daytona next week and the Rolex 24 at the same circuit in January will be crucial for Michelin to gather real-world data because it received a lack of such data throughout the year, resulting in a reliance on simulations to develop the tire.
Michelin developed its 2023 LMDh and LMH tire ahead of an expected ban on tire warmers in the WEC next year, which will bring the championship in line with IMSA.
Daytona will also be important for Porsche and Cadillac considering they will be competing in both series.
“We need Daytona because we get a chance to cover a wide range of temperatures,” Alves explained.
“At night it’s freezing and [cars] start on cold tires. So it will be a very good platform for us to learn exactly the values of the new range for the WEC season. It’s extremely important.
“And that’s why we’re going to the December sanctioned test, to really see our cars in real conditions. Because at the moment, we are private testing everywhere and never all together.
“There has been a lot of testing, but in short runs. Our difficulty today is that, OK, the cars are becoming available, but not fully dedicated to tire testing because they have a lot of [other] things to test.
“With the WEC teams, we are going to start doing more endurance [testing] on the new range because this is what we are lacking today.
“But all the work we’ve done in simulation shows the direction already. We need to transfer it to the track and see if it validates what we have learned, in December at Daytona and also private tests that we have with the WEC teams.”
The longevity of the global 2023 tire in the WEC remains to be seen, although Alves is optimistic that teams will be able to push on the same set for multiple stints.
“Our aim is to make the tire last longer so we are targeting next year to do triple stints at every race and four to five stints at Le Mans,” he suggested.
“So we are working to have a more enduring tire for 2023. It is too early to say if we can do it. Like we say, we don’t have enough data today. We have the development of the LMDh cars where it is difficult to do double or triple stints with the car at the moment.
“Our target for 2023-24 is if we can see with the FIA to decide to reduce the quantity to be used in a race and push the teams to multiple stints on the same set.
“In 2025 we want to take another step to make another tire to last even longer.”