Le Mans Results a Victory for Tyre Makers
Tyre makers whose products performed well in the 24 Hours of Le Mans have expressed delight with the results obtained. First amongst this group, naturally, is Michelin, following a one-two-three Audi finish. Following the successive eliminations of its four main Peugeot rivals, the Michelin shod Audi team was able to secure a fourth hat-trick at Le Mans. In addition to monopolising the top three places in the overall standings, Michelin runners took the top prize in each of the four classes for the third straight year.
“All credit has to go to Audi for getting every one of its three official entries to the finish; after all, that’s what endurance racing is all about,” stated Michelin following the race. “But you have to feel for Peugeot Sport Director Olivier Quesnel and his team who returned a devastatingly blank scorecard at the end of the 24-hour competition. Even the Oreca-run customer car failed to see the chequered flag when it, too, succumbed to engine gremlins with a little more than an hour remaining.”
The best-placed LMP2 car – Strakka Racing’s HPD-ARX 01c – was fifth across the line to claim its class after a run that enabled it to finish all of six laps clear of its closest threat. The Strakka car also collected the 10,000 euro cheque that went with winning the Michelin Green X Challenge, which rewards the most fuel efficient performances.
Second place in the GT2 class was secured by the Hankook Farnbacher Racing Team. According to the Korean manufacturer, while the Ferrari F430 GTC reeled off its laps “like clockwork”, the Hankook tyres produced a “flawless and high performance over the entire race distance.”
“We are pleased to promote Hankook Tire’s R&D prowess and advanced technologies by receiving such great performance results from top-class motorsports events in just two years after our first entry into the game,” said Jin-Wook Choi, Hankook Tires executive vice president and COO for Europe. “I am especially delighted about the safety and durability of our tyres, as we had been the only tyre supplier able to compete without any tyre failure in both famous European 24-hour races. We will continue to invest in motorsports and pull in efforts for technology innovation to develop tyres that meet the demand of motorsports fans and as well as our customers worldwide.”
The Hankook Farnbacher Ferrari F430 GTC was equipped with Hankook Ventus F200 slicks. The team chose from various tread compounds designed for each axle positions and specially aligned to the track conditions on the circuit. To maximise the car’s balance with the tyre performance, the front tyres were of a softer compound to the rear tyres. Hankook Tire provided the team with about 400 competition tyres at the track.
“Our 24-hours podium finishes at Nurburgring and here in Le Mans are so far the biggest achievements in Hankook Tire’s European motorsports history and document both the quality as well as the performance of our race tyres,” explained Manfred Sandbichler, the company’s motorsports manager for Europe. “It is the result of a consistent development and our researchers and technicians did a perfect job together with the whole Team Farnbacher in such a short time.”
Team manager Horst Farnbacher was “speechless” following the second place result. Despite this temporary tongue-tying, Farnbacher managed to say “a huge compliment must go to the drivers, the whole team as well as to our tyre partner Hankook for their tremendous performance.”
Claiming another sort of win, Goodyear Dunlop points out that the first four cars across the line were all diesel powered. The tyre maker thus points to its result as the first petrol LMP1 car to finish as an “unofficial” victory: The 5.5 litre V10 AIM Team Oreca driven by Soheil Ayari, Didier Andre und Andy Meyrick crossed the line four laps ahead of its strongest rival, the Lola Aston Martin. “Our goal was to be come first behind the factory Audis and Peugeots and we succeeded,” commented Dunlop Motorsport general manager Jean-Felix Bazelin. “To be fourth, and the best petrol-engine car, is a fantastic result and a tremendous reward for the intensive development work that we have carried out in terms of tyres for Le Mans prototypes in previous years.”