Michelin's tires drive victorious racers at Long Beach circuit

Jan. 1, 2020
Running in an Aston Martin equipped with Michelin tires, Greg Pickett and co-drivers Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf turned scored the overall race victory in the April 17 American Le Mans Series at Long Beach, the second stop of the ALMS season.
Running in an Aston Martin equipped with Michelin tires, Greg Pickett and co-drivers Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf turned scored the overall race victory in the April 17 American Le Mans Series at Long Beach, the second stop of the ALMS season.

The trio also clinched the Michelin GREEN X Challenge, an environmentally oriented “race within a race” element of the event. It is the only series currently recognized as “Green Racing” by the U. S. Department of Energy; the Environmental Protection Agency and SAE International.

The eligible fuels are E10 ethanol blended gasoline, E85R second-generation cellulosic ethanol, GTL (natural gas to liquid) biodiesel, E10-electric hybrid power and Iso-butanol gasoline.

“The ALMS Series has a long-term view on environmental projects,” says Graf. “We started this very early and some people may still think it is not the right thing, but this is the right direction. We will see changes in the future and there is no going back. Winning the race and the Michelin GREEN X Challenge shows us that we have chosen the right partners in combination with Lola, Aston Martin and Michelin.” “We are pleased to help deliver Aston Martin’s first overall race win in the ALMS,” says Silvia Mammone, the tire maker’s motorsports manager. “Long Beach is a great venue for us to showcase Michelin technology in open competition before a very large and enthusiastic audience,” she says. “We congratulate Greg Pickett and the Muscle Milk team on their impressive victory.”

 

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The awards are part of nearly every major international sports car endurance event, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and the European and Asian ALMS circuits.

Mammone goes on to note that “When the Michelin GREEN X Challenge winners are also the respective race winners, the point is clearly made that being fast and being clean and efficient are all very closely linked.” The company’s GREEN X-labeled consumer tires are optimized for fuel economy by reducing their rolling resistance and weight without compromising other key performance factors such as traction, grip and treadwear, she says. Each tire is marked with a GREEN X symbol on the sidewall, indicating a level of increased fuel-efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions.

Aston Martin becomes the tenth different manufacturer to claim an overall race victory in ALMS competition with Michelin’s tires, joining Audi, Porsche, BMW, Acura, Peugeot, HPD, Panoz, Zytek, Lola/AER, and Lola/Judd.

Starting on the outside of the front row, Luhr wasted little time in overtaking the pole sitting Dyson Racing Mazda to lead the first lap and build a comfortable lead before handing off to Graf midway through the two-hour race.

“We had some issues that cost us time in the Friday practice, but the car was good and Aston Martin and Michelin and the team all did a perfect job,” says Luhr.

 

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Graf says the victory “was proof that we made the right decisions and chose the right partners with Lola, Aston Martin and Michelin over the winter.” The win extends the Michelin record at Long Beach to five consecutive years.

Finishing in third place overall and taking its first victory in just its second ALMS race was the CORE Autosport LMP Challenge prototype driven by Gunnar Jeannette and Ricardo Gonzalez.

“Ricardo was able to build up a little bit of a lead in the first half of the race and since it was a bit hotter (than the previous day) we decided to change tires and that helped us regain the lead. Michelin knows how to handle the heat,” says Jeannette, who was also the 2010 Long Beach LMPC class winner.

“We had a perfect weekend, winning the pole, the race and setting the fastest lap,” he observes.

Jan Magnussen and Oliver Gavin came home second in the GT class, while Jaime Melo and Toni Vilander claimed third after starting 28th following a qualifying mishap. Joey Hand and Dirk Werner took the victory in a race that saw five different cars lead at various stages of the 1.968-mile downtown street circuit.

After winning the LMP2 class, Scott Tucker and Christophe Bouchut immediately started packing up the car for shipment to France in advance of the upcoming official “test day” for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

For more information, visit www.michelinman.com.

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