Michelin plans to kick off August with a product launch promoting its wide range of tires for different applications and conditions. The IMSA races at Road America this weekend offered a sneak preview of that variety.
"Here in Wisconsin and the nearby states with the many farms, trucks, construction and heavy equipment makers, motorcycles, aircrafts and cyclists, we are reminded that "performance" means different things to different people," said Tony Ménard, director of motorsport, Michelin North America.
"We speak about the importance of Michelin tire performance in a range of conditions for each application. Our Michelin customers and consumers look to us to provide the best options, and we race to learn about performance at the extremes and today we certainly had some extreme conditions. It is a pity that the weather changed everything and we want to congratulate the drivers who were able to keep racing in difficult circumstances.
"Today, we broke some records on a clear and relatively hot racetrack, then had an absolute deluge, including hail, that stopped the race. When the race resumed, our teams in all classes worked hard to maximize their wet weather tires on track," Ménard said.
The historic 4.048-mile, 14-turn circuit in the Kettle Moraine region features several major elevation change each lap, which resulted in deep pools of water in the runoffs and lower elevation areas.
Weather Affects WeatherTech Race Again
The key to victory in Sunday’s IMSA WeatherTech Championship race, then, was switching from the MICHELIN® Pilot® GT Sport slick to wet weather tires at the right time to handle the treacherous track conditions. Otherwise comfortable temperatures in the high 70s ambient and high 80s on track dropped by more than 10 degrees ambient and 15 on track when the rain hit.
In the end, Acura, Chevrolet Corvette and Lexus prevailed in the WeatherTech Championship race. With McLaren and Hyundai winning in Saturday’s MICHELIN Pilot Challenge race, five different automotive brands spread the wealth on a weekend where variety reigned.
"The Michelins were incredible in these conditions," said Townsend Bell, who shared the GT Daytona class winning Lexus with Frankie Montecalvo.
"I hit the standing water, I thought I’d lose it, then thought I’d lift and coast. But I put my foot down and started grabbing gears. The Lexus got hooked up, I got by (Mario Farnbacher), and then the yellow came out."
Post-Race Notes: Road America
- Michelin Tire Tech Tip Minute: The 640-acre Road America isn’t just the largest track on the IMSA calendar. It is also a metaphor for how many different types of tire performance Michelin showcases in a variety of industries. See how, where and why in this race’s NBC Sports’ Michelin Tire Tech Tip Minute, with NBC reporter Dave Burns.
- Michelin Hits its own ‘100:’ Michelin entered the weekend with 99 new qualifying and race lap records since taking over as Official Tire of IMSA in 2019. They achieved their 100th in qualifying for the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge race, when Nate Stacy broke the GS pole lap from 2019 by more than four tenths of a second in his KohR Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage GT4.
- Road America Record Roundup: Stacy’s 100th record was the first of six Michelin set this weekend in qualifying and race lap conditions from five different brands (Aston Martin, McLaren, Honda, Acura and Chevrolet Corvette). Others set included new race lap records in both GS and TCR in MICHELIN Pilot Challenge, and then DPi, LMP2 and GT Le Mans race laps. This gives Michelin a total of 105 new qualifying or race lap records since 2019. At Road America, the new GS best race lap time has improved by 3.524 seconds and the new TCR best race lap time by 3.151 seconds since 2018.
- New Woman Winner: Motorsports In Action claimed its first win since 2017 with Corey Lewis and Sheena Monk sharing the No. 3 McLaren 570S GT4 in MICHELIN Pilot Challenge GS. Monk’s win is the first overall for a woman in this series since Ashley Freiberg won overall with Trent Hindman at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in 2015.
- Hyundai Sweeps Again: Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai won its second straight TCR race, and Hyundai swept the podium. Gabby Chaves and Ryan Norman shared the winning No. 33 Hyundai Veloster N TCR. Chaves said: "We have a fantastic Michelin slick tire. The key for us was managing how to understand the front-wheel drive tire wear. Initially, we were a bit optimistic pushing early in a stint. But here, we had the right mentality to manage and open the gap because we had the tire when we needed to throughout the stint."
Road America Winners
Michelin congratulates the race winners of the IMSA SportsCar Weekend at Road America:
- DPi: Helio Castroneves, Ricky Taylor, No. 7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05
- LMP2: Ben Hanley, Henrik Hedman, No. 81 DragonSpeed ORECA 07
- GTLM: Jordan Taylor, Antonio Garcia, No. 3 Corvette C8.R
- GTD: Townsend Bell, Frankie Montecalvo, No. 12 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3
MICHELIN Pilot Challenge
- GS: Corey Lewis, Sheena Monk, No. 3 Motorsports In Action McLaren 570S GT4
- TCR: Gabby Chaves, Ryan Norman, No. 33 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Veloster N TCR
- LMP3: Scott Andrews, Gerry Kraut, No. 9 JDC Motorsports Norma M30
IMSA’s next race in the 2020 season is the Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway, August 21-23, 2020. The event will run without spectators.
In a slightly different race schedule, the WeatherTech Championship GT Le Mans and GT Daytona classes compete on Saturday, August 22, at 1:40 p.m. ET on NBC Sports.
The IMSA Prototype Challenge (9:35 a.m.) and IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge (2:55 p.m.) race on Sunday, August 23.
All IMSA races air on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. IMSA Radio carries all on-track sessions, live, flag-to-flag and commercial free.