24H du Mans

2019 LE MANS 24 HOURS - Long-lasting performance to the line, with Michelin…

This year, as always, Michelin’s mission at Le Mans is to provide the drivers of the 53 cars competing on its tyres with superior grip and long-lasting performance as it bids to extend the unbeaten spell it has enjoyed in the endurance racing classic since 1998. Meanwhile, Michelin is busy working on mobility for the future in association with the fuel cell-powered GreenGT prototype which will perform a parade lap of the French circuit. 

24H du Mans

Michelin’s first test of 2019 at Le Mans

The pre-Le Mans 24 Hours test day is the only opportunity teams get to test at the famous 13.626-kilometre track ahead of race-week itself. Unsurprisingly, Sunday’s order was dominated by the Michelin-equipped Toyota TS050 Hybrids.

24H du Mans

A second straight 1-2 finish for Toyota/Michelin at Le Mans

Toyota Gazoo Racing claimed a second one-two finish at Le Mans to earn a 22nd consecutive win for its partner Michelin in the famous French endurance race. Victory ended up in the hands of the N°8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, ahead of the N°7 sister car, while winning drivers Buemi, Nakajima and Alonso wrapped up the 2018/2019 FIA WEC title. The top-three was rounded out by the N°11 BR1/Michelin. Michelin topped the order in LMP2, too, with Alpine (Lapierre/Negrao/Thiriet), as well as in LM GTE Pro and LM GTE Am with Ferrari (Pier Guidi/Calado/Serra) and Ford (Keating/Bleekemolen/Fraga) respectively. The 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours provided Michelin with the ideal opportunity to showcase the long-lasting performance credentials of its Pilot Sport Endurance tyres.

Although Toyota appeared not to face any significant opposition this year, everyone knows that nothing can ever be taken for granted at Le Mans which hasn’t earned its reputation for being the world’s most punishing endurance race by accident!

The Japanese squad shrugged off any pressure there might have been, however, to post a near-perfect performance and finish with both of its TS050-Hybrids six laps clear of their closest threat, which ended up being the third-placed N°11 SMP Racing non-hybrid prototype.

The pole-winning N°7 car topped the leaderboard for the majority of the 24 hours, aided by a multi-stint strategy which saw Lopez complete 46 laps on the same set of Michelins Pilot Sport Endurance.

But the slightly faster pace of Conway, Kobayashi and the Argentine driver went unrewarded when the latter was forced to make an unscheduled stop to replace a tyre damaged by debris with less than an hour remaining. The move handed the win to the N°8 sister car of Fernando Alonso, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima who took the trophy for the second year running. The Toyota trio also harvested Michelin’s 22nd consecutive victory at Le Mans, and its 28th at Le Mans since the inaugural race in 1923!

The race provided plenty of evidence to support Michelin’s ‘long-lasting performance’ claim, including runs of more than 600km by Mike Conway and Fernando Alonso on the same set of Michelin tyres. The two-time F1 world champion even posted his second-fastest lap of the race (3m19.88s) on tyres that had already clocked up 558 kilometres!

Three decades after its win with Alpine-Renault in 1978, Michelin’s successful weekend continued with a satisfying victory in LMP2 thanks to the N°36 Alpine which switched back to its tyres for the last three rounds of the 2018/2019 FIA World Endurance Championship, a move that paid dividends not only this weekend at Le Mans but also in the WEC standings since the French outfit’s result has earned it this season’s LMP2 world title. The Signatech-run car was locked in a fierce fight with the N°26 G-Drive prototype for much of the early part of the race, but the latter fell back with a technical issue which allowed Lapierre/Negrao/Thiriet to push on to the class win by a margin of one lap.

As usual, the LM GTE Po class produced a thrilling scrap which, true to tradition, went down to the wire. With the exception of BMW/Michelin, all of the carmakers involved in the category (Aston Martin/Michelin, Corvette/Michelin, Porsche/Michelin, Ferrari/Michelin and Ford/Michelin) appeared in front at one moment or another, but the N°51 Ferrari of Pier Guidi/Calado/Serra survived late pushes by the N°91 (+49s) and N°93 (+1m7s) Porsches to clinch the victory, the Italian make’s first at Le Mans since 2014.

Porsche was also forced to settle for second place in LM GTE Am which was won by the N°85 Ford/Michelin of Keating/Bleekemolen/Fraga. The Keating Motorsports-tended car appeared in front on Saturday evening and doggedly defended its advantage to the flag, despite serving a late ‘Stop&Go’ penalty which allowed the N°56 Porsche/Michelin (2nd, +45s) to close the gap significantly in the dying stages. Third in the class was the N°84 Ferrari/Michelin (+1m29s).

FIA WEC

Twenty-nine champions for FIA endurance racing Hall of Fame

After creating Halls of Fame for its Formula 1 and Rally World Championships, the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) has now added an endurance racing section at its Paris headquarters. Twenty-nine champions were inducted at a special ceremony on Monday evening (December 2). It was organised in association with Michelin, a long-time major player in the discipline.

FIA Formula E

Formula E: Britons rule at 2019/2020 curtain raiser in Saudi Arabia

Sam Bird (Envision Virgin Racing/Michelin) and Alexander Sims (BMW I Andretti Motorsport) took the two wins at the opening meeting of the 2019/2020 Formula E Championship in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. Michelin has been the official tyre supplier to the FIA’s all-electric racing series since its creation in 2014.

FIA WRC

Citroën and Michelin: a winning combination in the WRC

Citroën has announced its intention to curtail its involvement in the FIA World Rally Championship. Together, the French car firm and Michelin have harvested five Manufacturers’ titles, four Drivers’ crowns, 58 world-class wins and 150 podium finishes.

MOTOGP™

MotoE: Ferrari claims inaugural Enel FIM MotoE™ World Cup

Fifth place at the last round of the 2019 Enel FIM MotoE™ World Cup sufficed for Matteo Ferrari (Trentino Gresini MotoE) to become the new competition’s first champion. The weekend’s two races were won by pole-winner Eric Granado (Avintia Esponsorama Racing). 

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