ELKHART LAKE, WIS. August 5, 2016 – The fans call it “America’s National Park of Speed” and with its three long straightaways, variety of challenging corners and big elevation changes, the 4.048 mile long circuit, officially known as Road America, is a favorite of the Michelin technical partner drivers and teams because it is a challenging track and a pleasure to drive according to Ken Payne, motorsport’s technical director, Michelin North America.
“Road America hits a sweet spot in the balance of speed, technical demands, and driver challenges; this is a circuit where all of our teams expect to run well,” said Payne.
Over the past four years, the fiercely competitive IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class, the only class offering open-tire competition, has been won by four different manufacturers with Porsche North America (2015), Risi Competizione Ferrari (2014), Dodge SRT Viper (2013) and BMW Team RLL (2012).
The factory Viper team is gone, but a powerful pair of American manufacturers will battle the Porsche, Ferrari and BMW teams and each other, to become the fifth different winner in five years.
Fresh from its milestone 100th victory, the 2016 Daytona, Sebring and Lime Rock GTLM winning Corvette Racing team have enjoyed considerable success at Road America, but are looking for their first victory here since 2008.
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, class winner at the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hour race and in the Monterey, Canada and Watkins Glen rounds in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, trail only Corvette in the standings.
“Teams trim out the cars by reducing downforce to maximize the speeds on the long straightaways and to get through traffic,” said Payne. “But that can leave them vulnerable to another car with a bit more downforce and thus able to go deeper under braking and be quicker through the turns. High tire grip levels throughout the stint are key.”
“I expect that some of our Michelin technical partner teams will use two, or maybe even all three of our tire options at the same time, depending on their chassis set-ups and race strategies,” said Payne.
“The Corvettes and Ford GTs have been winning, but Porsche won here last year, Ferrari led much of the race at Lime Rock, and BMW has won two poles and set fastest race lap twice this year,” said Payne. “This could be the best race of the year.”
“At this stage of the season everyone is fighting for every point, so every pass and every position is critical,” said Payne.
About Michelin North America
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 and motorcycles. 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 22,650 and operates 20 major manufacturing plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.