Michelin sets tyre challenge for Le Mans 24

Michelin sets tyre challenge for Le Mans 24 19th February 2014

Michelin has launched a new challenge ahead of this year's Le Mans 24, which promises a €1 million investment to a team that meets a strict set of criteria, including one related to tyre wear.

This year sees the introduction of the Michelin Total Performance Award, which aims to speed up innovation in favour of both performance on the racetrack and sustainable mobility.

The award coincides with the changes made to the discipline’s technical regulations from this year, which aim to reduce carbon output and increase sustainability without affecting the speed and endurance of the vehicles, which the Le Mans race is renowned for.

The grant will be awarded to the first team that succeeds in fulfilling five criteria relating to performance, longevity and energy efficiency, resulting in a million euros being invested into the financing of research into sustainable mobility by an independent academic institute.

A strict set of criteria has been drawn up by the tyre manufacturer, which says that the award is going to be hard to accomplish, but not impossible.

The first, and most important criterion, is that the team must win the Le Mans 24 Hours outright, while the second benchmark is that the winning car must also post the fastest lap of the race.

Thirdly, the winning crew must beat the race’s distance record, which has stood at 5,410km since 2011, while the victorious team must also achieve a fuel consumption saving of at least 15 per cent over the average amount of energy consumed by the LMP1 finishers in 2013.

Finally, the number of tyres used by the winning crew during the race must not exceed nine sets – something that will prove particularly difficult, according to Olivier Vialle, Michelin Motorsport’s Marketing Director.

"This award has been created with the intention of it being won. We deliberately set ambitious criteria but we believe they are achievable," he explained.

Although beating the distance record will call for favourable circumstances, such as mild weather and few interruptions, Mr Vialle said the tyre criterion will represents the steepest challenge, though the award is open to any competitor, regardless of whether they use Michelin tyres or not.

He added: "Meeting the tyre-related criterion stands out as a big challenge in itself because the prototypes will use smaller tyres at Le Mans this year. Perhaps we won’t see all five criteria met this year."

If the award is not won this year, Michelin confirmed it will be "up for grabs" in the 2015 race and all subsequent stagings of the event, until it is won.

Posted by Danielle Barge