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

Toyota/Michelin tastes Le Mans glory at last!

Toyota will be partying hard tonight after winning the famous Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time since its debut attempt at the world famous race in 1985. This time around, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and the team’s star recruit Fernando Alonso delivered the necessary speed and reliability in their N°8 TS050-Hybrid/Michelin to spearhead a one-two finish for the Japanese carmaker, ahead of the N°7 sister car (+2 laps). Porsche/Michelin celebrated no-nonsense wins in LM GTE Pro and Am, while G-Drive Racing was unassailable in LMP2 with the N°26 Oreca07. True to its ‘Winning performance to the line’ claim, Michelin secured its 21st straight Le Mans success.

Six years after its return to Le Mans as a factory operation in 2012, and two years after having had victory snatched so cruelly from its grasp on the very last lap in 2016, Toyota Gazoo Racing/Michelin has finally achieved Le Mans glory – the holy grail it has been chasing since its debut in the classis endurance race in 1985.

True, with neither Porsche nor Audi in contention in 2018, its two-car entry didn’t face any real opposition this weekend. However, Le Mans being Le Mans, the Japanese team was aware that going it alone was always going to be a risky game: win and nobody would be surprised, fail and it would be a disaster…

With this in mind, the Pascal Vasselon-run operation produced a near-faultless performance in La Sarthe – aided by the ability of its Michelin tyres to cover quadruple stints throughout the race – to claim the top two places and earn the coveted trophy for the first time in the automotive giant’s history. Thanks to today’s result, it has also become only the second Japanese make to win the world’s greatest endurance race after Mazda’s surprise feat back in 1991.

“It’s a shame Le Mans only happens once a year,” enthused ex-F1 champ and Le Mans rookie Alonso. “They should hold this race every two or three weeks. I loved driving in the dark and my Michelin tyres got faster and faster!”

Prior to Saturday’s start, observers had debated exactly how big a threat to Toyota the other hybrid LMP1s were likely to be. But despite the best efforts of the N°17 SMP Racing prototype and the N°1 and N°3 Rebellions, the non-hybrid prototypes failed to make a mark. After the demise of the former due to accident damage on Saturday evening, the Rebellions were left to pick up third (N°3) and fourth (N°1) spots – 12 and 13 laps adrift – which, realistically, was the best they could have hoped for.

In the light of its performance in qualifying, Porsche stood out as the make to beat in LM GTE Pro and Am, but there were concerns that the late BoP (Balance of Performance) adjustments published on Friday might jeopardise its chances. In the end, it shrugged off this handicap to dominate both classes practically from flag to flag.

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Porsche GT Team/Michelin secured a one-two finish in LM GTE Pro led by the N°92 911 RSR of Christensen/Estre/Vanthoor. The identical N°91 car withstood late pressure to defend second place (+1 lap) from Ford which filled the next two places with its N°68 and 67 cars. Meanwhile, Corvette, Aston Martin and BMW will be looking to learn from this year’s Le Mans to bounce back next June when the race will be the last round of the WEC’s 2018/2019 Super-Season.

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The N°77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche/Michelin took the spoils in LM GTE Am thanks to a gritty drive by Campbell/Ried/Andlauer who took command on Saturday afternoon. Ferrari/Michelin didn’t leave empty-handed after the N°54 and N°85 488 GTEs finished on the Am podium’s second and third steps.

Finally, the top LMP2 prize was presented to Vergne/Rusinov/Pizzitola (G-Drive Racing Oreca07) whose assertive display kept them clear of their chasers for most of the race. The N°23 Ligier/Michelin tended by the team owned jointly by ex-F1 driver Olivier Panis and the 1998 soccer World Cup-winning goalkeeper Fabien Barthez was running a strong second until a clutch issue dropped it down the order early on Sunday morning. The class’s silver and bronze medals ended up in the hands of the N°36 Alpine and N°39 Oreca07 (Graff-SO24).

MOTOGP™

MotoGP™ - Danilo Petrucci earns maiden MotoGPTM victory at Mugello

Danilo Petrucci claimed the first premier-class win of his career at his home race on an Italian bike. The Ducati Team rider earned rapturous applause from the local fans when he was first across the line at Mugello, home of the 2019 MotoGPTM World Championship’s sixth round. Marc Márquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Petrucci’s team-mate Andrea Dovizioso were second and third. The performance of Michelin’s latest-generation MotoGPTM tyres contributed to the tumbling of several records.  

FIA WRC

Portugal glory for Toyota/Michelin

Twenty-five years after their last win together on the event as a WRC round*, Toyota and Michelin claimed the top prize at this year’s Rally de Portugal thanks to Ott Tänak. Second and third were Thierry Neuville (Hyundai/Michelin) and Sébastien Ogier (Citroën/Michelin). With half of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship completed, Ogier tops the Provisional Drivers’ standings, two and ten points clear of his Estonian and Belgian rivals respectively. The new Skoda Fabia R5 Evo/Michelin got its career of to a flying start with a one-two finish in WRC2 Pro thanks to Kalle Rovanperä and Jan Kopecky.

MOTOGP™

MotoGP™ - Gran Premio d'Italia Oakley - Racecard

All you need to know about the Gran Premio d'Italia Oakley, 6th round of the MotoGP championship. Click on the photo to download the racecard.

FIA WRC

FIA WRC - Vodafone Rally de Portugal - Racecard

All you need to know abou the Vodafone Rally de Portugal, 7th round of World Rally Championship (WRC).Click on the photo to download the racecard.

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