True to FIA World Endurance Championship tradition, the 2016 season kicks off this weekend with the 6 Hours of Silverstone. The British round is frequently marked by varying conditions and cold temperatures which can make it a particularly complex exercise for the teams and drivers. Anticipating shifts in the weather is always key to having the right tyres ready at the right time and having the ideal car set-up.
The first WEC clash of the year on Sunday will be preceded by the opening round of the 2016 European Le Mans Series (ELMS) which will use the same 18-turn, 5.89km track as the world championship.
The new season marks the introduction of a number of new cars and even fiercer competition between tyre firms. Michelin consequently used the winter break to work on new developments which were signed off at the FIA WEC and ELMS pre-season Prologue test at Le Castellet, France, in March.
New Michelin tyres for the 2016 ELMS
Michelin Motorsport focused its efforts for 2016 on the development of a new range of slicks for its LM P2 partners. Early results have been positive, including the times posted by the Michelin-equipped cars at the official pre-season test at Le Castellet, France, last month. Detail changes have also been made to the rain tyres which proved strong in 2015.
At Silverstone, Michelin’s partners will be able to choose from the following tyres as a function of their respective strategies which will, of course, depend on the weather and temperature:
- Soft ‘cold weather’,
- Soft ‘hot weather’
- Full Wet
Michelin is also the exclusive tyre supplier to the ELMS’s LM P3 class for which the Clermont-Ferrand-based manufacturer recently introduced new front tyres to enhance the balance and performance of these prototypes.
New cars and new tyres for the FIA WEC
Michelin’s new LM P1 range is the fruit of the close working relationships the French tyre firm’s engineers have forged with their colleagues at Toyota Gazoo Racing (where there is a V6 engine for the TS050 Hybrid instead of the former V8, plus a new energy recovery system), Audi Sport Team Joest (revised aerodynamics and a new body design for the R18) and Porsche Team (revised power distribution for the 919 Hybrid after the introduction of new regulations that cap power output at 1,000hp).
“We have a range of six tyres for the LM-P1 cars,” notes Jérôme Mondain, manager of Michelin’s FIA WEC programme. “They have been adjusted to match changes to the technical characteristics of our partners’ cars. We focused on taking on-board the new constraints we face this season while at the same time taking performance forward. Such high-performance racing cars necessitate a long process of close collaboration.
“After the Prologue, a programme of private tests with our three LM P1 partners will allow everyone to fine-tune their respective packages ahead of this year’s opener at Silverstone.”
All the LM P1 front-runners race on Michelin tyres and the combination of changes to the cars and the French company’s own development programme has led to modifications to the construction and tread compound.
The Michelin tyres available for the LM P1 class at Silverstone are:
- Soft ‘cold weather’
- Soft ‘hot weather’
- Michelin Hybrid intermediate
- Full wets
MICHELIN’s LM P1 tyres are all the same size (31/71-18) front and rear. Each car has a quota of six sets for the race.
New developments for LM GTE Pro
The arrival of the Ford GT, the launch of the new Ferrari 488 GTE and big changes for the Porsches promise an even closer fight in LM GTE Pro.
“As in LM P1, we have worked hard with our LM GTE Pro partners,” says Jérôme Mondain. “There is a mix of all-new and significantly improved cars, so we have focused on different areas to improve the performance of our tyres as races progress and also adapt them to the different cars. As in LM P1, this entailed working on the construction and compounds. Our LM GTE Pro range features three slicks and two tyres for wet weather.”
The LM GTE Am cars will use the tyres developed in 2015 for the LM GTE Pro cars.
As in LM P1, these compounds offer ideal operating windows to cover the different spreads of temperature without detracting from their versatility.
The allocation per car is four sets for free practice, plus six for qualifying and the race.
Sizes: 30/68-18 (front) and 31/71-18 (rear).
For more information: www.michelin.co.uk