First on Board
Michelin was the first major technical partner to support the radical Project 56 DeltaWing prototype car in the 2012 running of the world’s greatest endurance race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The DeltaWing leaders recognized Michelin’s commitment to technology and innovation and record of success at Le Mans where Michelin and its technical partners have won for the last 14 consecutive years.
Motorsports, especially endurance racing, is part of Michelin’s heritage. Michelin has long used motorsports to push the performance boundaries and gain insight into the performance of tires in extreme uses and conditions and to transfer those learning into development of future tires for consumers.
Michelin is especially interested in the opportunity to explore tires for lighter weight and more fuel-efficient vehicles. Michelin is intrigued by the opportunity to learn with a radically different car, a car that pushes thinking and creativity.
Michelin has developed a tire solution that pushes the performance envelope and matches the innovative DeltaWing strategy to reduce by half the weight, horsepower and aerodynamic drag of a prototype race car as well as significantly reduce the fuel and tire usage. All while delivering the same speed and performance.
During the development process, Michelin engineers worked side-by-side with the DeltaWing team in order to understand the speed, loads and stresses that the tires might experience.
Michelin Creates Special Tires
The DeltaWing front tires are just 10/58-15, or less than 23 inches (58 cm) tall, and with a tread just four inches (10 cm) wide. By contrast, the 2011 Le Mans-winning Audi R18 TDI turbo-charged-diesel prototype utilized taller and wider front 36/71-18 MICHELIN® tires, approximately 28 inches (71 cm) tall with nearly 14 inches (36 cm) of tread width.
The rear tires are less dramatic in size, because the DeltaWing is designed to race with 31/62-15 MICHELIN tires while the average LMP2 prototype rear tire is sized at 37/71-18.
Race to Learn
Michelin expects to learn things that they can apply to the tires designed for everyday consumers. Specifically, to have the opportunity to learn more about using smaller dimensional tires while achieving traditional levels of performance.
A perfect example of this technology transfer is the recent launch of the MICHELIN® Pilot® Super Sport tire where two of the three technologies engineered into the tire were developed from the learning on the track.
“Michelin races to learn and races to win,” said Silvia Mammone, Michelin motorsports manager and project leader for Michelin on the DeltaWing. “There is a tremendous focus in the auto industry worldwide on making vehicles lighter without sacrificing performance, and we hope to learn a great deal from our collaboration with the DeltaWing program.”
Please visit the Michelin Alley Blog (www.michelinalley.com) for the latest news, stories and insight into the American Le Mans Series, 24 Hours of Le Mans, DeltaWing and other motorsports.