The eyes of Texas and the international Sports Car world will be focused on Michelin and its technical partner teams as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship heads to Austin and the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) for this Saturday’s two-hour and forty-minute race on FOX Sports 1.
“Each circuit has its own personality and technical challenges, and racing at COTA is a great taste of a modern European circuit with some Texan seasoning,” said Chris Baker, director of motorsport, Michelin North America.
“In the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class, we have the Corvette and Ford GT factory teams mixing it up with the BMW, Porsche and Ferrari GTLM class teams on a truly international circuit where different sections of the track play to different strengths and there are some good passing zones.”
“Our Michelin GTLM teams from BMW Team RLL, Corvette Racing, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, Porsche GT Team and Risi Competizione Ferrari all arrive at COTA with no Balance of Performance changes from the previous race, so everyone should be evenly matched here at COTA,” said Baker.
“Porsche won here last fall and the Risi Ferrari won the next race, the season finale at Road Atlanta.
“In the first three races of 2017, the Ford GT won at Daytona, and Corvette won at Sebring and Long Beach. The new Porsches have been very fast and the BMWs are overdue for a win. It should be a great race.”
Overlap Creates Tire Options
“The force loads and COTA track surface create an overlap in their tire options performance windows for most of our Michelin technical partner GTLM teams,” said Ken Payne, motorsport technical director, Michelin North America.
“Each of our GTLM teams can consider its respective pre-selected “medium” temperature range Michelin tires or our “hot” temperature range option. The GTLM class is the only WeatherTech Championship class offering open tire competition and tire options.”
The 20 turn, 3.41-mile Texas circuit runs counter-clockwise, which often places a greater load on the left side tires, but probably not enough to prompt teams to split their left/right tire fitments.
“The circuit layout is interesting as it has slightly fewer right hand corners, but they are of longer duration so from a tire perspective it comes out pretty even.” said Payne.
Last Chance before Big Dance
Saturday’s two-hour and 40-minute Advance Auto Parts SportsCar Showdown is the final race for the Michelin GTLM technical partners before the big 24 Hours of Le Mans (France), June 17-18.
The WeatherTech Championship GTLM entries combined to produce an all-American GTE-Pro class podium at Le Mans in 2016 as the Indianapolis-based Ford GTs from Chip Ganassi Racing and the Houston-based Risi Competizione Ferrari bested the top internationally based teams.
The Michigan-based Corvette Racing team took the class victory at Le Mans in 2015.
The GTLM teams return to the WeatherTech Championship series at Watkins Glen, NY on July 2.