LAKEVILLE, Ct. July 18, 2016 – In a sport obsessed with numbers, Michelin and its technical partner teams will face a truly unique combination when they take to the 1.474 mile circuit at Lime Rock Park, July 23 for the Northeast Grand Prix.
“This will be the first time that we have raced here since 2013 and it is difficult to find a track anywhere to compare directly to Lime Rock,” said Ken Payne, technical director motorsports, Michelin North America.
Lime Rock and the Circuit de la Sarthe, home of the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit, illustrate the polar opposites.
“Lime Rock is the shortest track with the fewest corners and the shortest lap time of any of the circuits that we race on all year,” said Payne. “While Le Mans is at the opposite end of the spectrum on virtually all measures, but by using the same range of MICHELIN tires at both, we learn different things.”
“We collect extensive data everywhere we race and we learn a great deal about tire performance and extending our performance bandwidth by racing at the extremes with our technical partners like BMW, Corvette, Ferrari, Ford and Porsche,” said Payne.
“Here at Lime Rock the cars are in constant traffic,” said Payne. “The teams are in high downforce trim and need tires that deliver precise corner entry lap after lap. The drivers may do 60 or even 70 laps in a single, one-hour stint. Consistency is a big priority here, as they must frequently pass off-line, work through traffic and constantly put the car into tight spaces.”
“By contrast, Le Mans is a much longer track with long straightaways and more chances to spread out,” said Payne. “Le Mans is all about top speed, high speed cornering, consistency and extended tread life with the cars in a low-downforce configuration. There, we try to provide our teams with tires capable of two-, three- or even four-stints with no drop off in performance.”
Michelin North America technical partner teams from Ford Chip Ganassi Racing (first and third) and Risi Competizione Ferrari (second) dominated the GTE-Pro class (GTLM equivalent) at Le Mans last month.
To illustrate, consider this match-up of Lime Rock with the Circuit de la Sarthe.
Lime Rock Park Le Mans
Track length 1.474 miles / 7,783 feet 8.47 miles / 44,722 feet
Number of entries 32 60
Track length/ft. per 243.21 feet 745.06 feet
Lap times 51-52 seconds per lap 3 min 51.1 seconds per lap
Pit stop range 60-70 laps per fuel stint 15 laps per fuel stint
Race length 2 Hours 40 minutes 24 Hours
Pit stops 2-3 25-30