One of the changes to this weekend’s Six Hours of Nürburgring has been Tequila Patron ESM’s switch from Dunlop to Michelin tires, bringing open tire competition back to the Pro/Am-enforced prototype class. (En Français)
According to Michelin Endurance Program Manager Jerome Mondain, talks with the Scott Sharp-owned team began after last month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, and comes as a boost for the French tire manufacturer, as it prepares for 2017.
“Michelin wants to be competitive in 2016 to prepare in the best possible way for 2017,” Mondain told Endurance-Info.
“The technical results are good in the European Le Mans Series with our customers and we are delighted that Tequila Patron ESM choose Michelin tires for the rest of the WEC season.
“Our work in LMP2 is rewarded and we can only be welcomed.
“In order to prepare 2017, we’ve had discussions with the LMP2 manufacturers, primarily Onroak Automotive and ORECA, which already have LMP2 cars on track. The idea is to participate very early in the development.”
Just as the cars evolve for next year, so do the tires, with 2017 LMP2 regulations seeing a slightly thicker sidewall on the front tires to accommodate increased aero load while cornering.
The rear dimensions (31/71/18) remain the same, but front evolve from 30/65/18 to 30/68/18, the same size currently utilized in the GTE categories.
“The new LMP2 rules are almost as important as the changes in LMP1 [from 2014],” Mondain said.
“It’s a good thing for us to have a team in the WEC this year, as the race format is different from what we see in the ELMS.”
While a team is only allowed to change tire brands once per season, Mondain said they could have another car make the switch before the year is out.
“It is not impossible to see other cars on Michelin tires by the end of season,” he said. “Everything is possible. Opportunities can be established everywhere.”
Mondain said Michelin’s 2017-spec LMP2 tire will be ready later this summer, although the full range will only be finalized after extensive winter testing.
Tire use rules remain the same for next year, including a limitation of four sets of tires used for every six-hour race.