This past weekend’s visit to Road Atlanta (Georgia, USA) for the 2011 Petit Le Mans (Saturday, October 1) proved exceptionally successful for Michelin on a number of counts, including outright victory in association with the Peugeot 908 of Franck Montagny, Stéphane Sarrazin and Alex Wurz. It also harvested a lockout of the overall podium, as well as victory in the LM P2 (N°33 Level 5 Motorsport) and highly competitive GTE (N°51 AF Corse Ferrari) classes.
In addition to putting the seal on the outcome of the 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup which was won by Peugeot with one round remaining (Zhuhai 6 Hours in China), a thrilling finale saw Michelin secure the American Le Mans Series’ tire manufacturers trophy thanks to Porsche driver Jorg Bergmeister who squeezed BMW out of second place in GTE in the closing moments.
“We honestly thought that the tire manufacturers title was heading elsewhere when Jorg profited from the dramatic final laps to move up to second place in GT behind the N°51 Ferrari/Michelin,”smiled Serge Grisin, the manager of Michelin Competition’s four-wheel programs. “That relegated the best-placed BMW to third spot, which was enough to hand us the title.”
In a 9½-hour race which saw track temperatures vary from 28°C at the hottest moment of Saturday afternoon to 17°C towards the end of the 1,000-mile Petit Le Mans, in darkness, the full range of Michelin compounds was used. There were even times when all the available variants were lapping simultaneously.
But Serge Grisin was particularly satisfied to see the Peugeot and Audi factory teams, and the Rebellion Lola-Toyota complete three stints on the same set of tires during the afternoon, which was the hottest time of the day. “That was an important phase for us,” he says, “especially since the Peugeot 908, Audi R18 and Lola-Toyota were running on different compounds when they triple-stinted. I believe that says a great deal about the durability, consistency and versatility of our endurance racing range.”
The final round of the 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup will take teams to China for the Zhuhai 6 Hours (November 10-12) where the outcome of the GTE championship will be settled. AF Corse/Ferrari/Michelin enjoys a handsome advantage in the provisional standings. Meanwhile, the result at Road Atlanta enabled Larbre Competition (Chevrolet/Michelin) to clinch the 2011 GTE AM crown.