Michelin Goes Big at Petit Le Mans
Strong Field Pits Top Manufacturers in 10-Hour/1,000-Mile Battle
BRASELTON, GA -- Michelin and its technical partner teams expect to lead the way as the strongest field of the year will be on hand for one of the signature events of the American Le Mans Series, the 2009 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, September 26.
Now in its 11th year, Petit Le Mans has earned recognition as one of the world’s premier endurance races as evidenced by the stellar field.
Three of the four current 24 Hour of Le Mans champions, (Peugeot, Corvette Racing, and Risi Competizione Ferrari) are entered in the annual 10-Hour/1,000-Mile fall classic held on the 2.54-mile circuit in the red clay foothills of northern Georgia.
The race marks the renewal of the pitched battle between Peugeot, winner of the 2009 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the defending race champion Audi squad. It also provides a strong measuring post for the development of the radical new wide tire Acura prototypes that have dominated the 2009 ALMS championship. Former Indy 500 champions Gil de Ferran, Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti are aboard with Acura and defending race champions Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello return with Audi.
Michelin is the technical partner of choice for 18 of the 31 race entries, including the Audi, Peugeot, Acura, Corvette, Porsche, Ferrari, and Mazda factory teams, and the independent teams from Oreca, Drayson and Farnbacher Loles. Michelin and its technical partner teams have taken the overall honors at the last 54 consecutive ALMS events and 25 of the 26 ALMS class wins in 2009.
The American Le Mans Series features open competition and Michelin GT2 teams will face strong challenges from Dunlop (BMW) and Yokohama (Panoz) factory teams plus a single independent entry from Falken and a Prototype entry from Kumho.
“The track at Road Atlanta is incredibly fast (lap record average speed is over 138 mph) and at 10-hours/1,000-miles the endurance factors really kick into play,” said Karl Koenigstein, Michelin ALMS technical team leader. “Like Le Mans, teams will want to double-stint their tires here at Petit Le Mans, so the key is to provide Michelin tires that provide both exceptional levels of grip and extended wear.”
“The conditions change during the course of the race, especially after sunset, so we will have two or three dry tire options available for each of our teams,” said Koenigstein. “The Petit Le Mans is always a great race and provides a perfect opportunity to evaluate the competition and begin preparations for the 2010 ALMS season opener at Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans next June. We can use the practice sessions earlier in the week to try some new things and even experiment a bit in the race itself.”
Victories at Petit Le Mans provide guaranteed invitations to the 2010 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans for each of the three ALMS class winners.
Michelin is seeking its 11th consecutive victory in the event.
Petit Le Mans is the “home” ALMS race for Michelin. The Michelin North America headquarters and Michelin America Research Center are located approximately 100 miles north of Road Atlanta in Greenville, SC. Michelin has 19 facilities and nearly twelve thousand employees in the Southeast region.
Dedicated to the improvement of sustainable mobility, Michelin designs, manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks, motorcycles and the space shuttle. The company also publishes travel guides, hotel and restaurant guides, maps and road atlases. Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America (www.michelinman.com) employs more than 22,600 and operates 19 major manufacturing plants in 17 locations.
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