Michelin offers €1 million for new Le Mans benchmark

As announced in June 2013, Michelin will debut a new competition at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Michelin Total Performance Award aims to speed up innovation both in relation to racetrack performance and sustainable mobility – and offers €1 million as incentive. The grant will be awarded to the first team that succeeds in fulfilling five criteria relating to performance, longevity and energy efficiency. When these five conditions are met, the million will be ploughed into the financing of research into sustainable mobility by an independent academic institute.

In addition to benefiting from the backing of endurance racing’s governing organisations, the launch of this award coincides with changes made to the discipline’s technical regulations as of this year. Michelin says the initiative fits perfectly with the approach it has championed for many years. “In the world of motorsport, Michelin is a technical partner which contributes to giving real meaning to the discipline,” explains Michelin Motorsport director Pascal Couasnon. “In accordance with this principle, and in association with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the Michelin Green X Challenge was introduced in 2009 as an integral part of endurance racing’s regulations. The objective of the challenge was to reward the sport’s most energy-efficient competitors. The Michelin Total Performance Award marks the next phase of the company’s responsible involvement in motorsport, from both the societal and environmental points of view.”

In the same way as Michelin’s research specialists strive to combine seemingly irreconcilable performance-related qualities in a single tyre as part of the Michelin Total Performance plan, Le Mans competitors will need to produce a comprehensive tour de force to stand a chance of claiming the Michelin Total Performance Award. “The idea is to reward a unique achievement based simultaneously on the notions of exceptional performance, longevity and energy efficiency,” stresses Olivier Vialle, Michelin Motorsport’s marketing director.

The five criteria that will need to be met to be able to claim the Michelin Total Performance Award consequently focus on these notions:

Victory – to be considered for the prize, the team must win the Le Mans 24 Hours outright.

Performance over a single lap – the winning car must also post the fastest race lap.

A new distance record – the winning crew must beat the race’s distance record. Since 2011, it has stood at 5,410 kilometres.

Reduced fuel consumption – the winner must achieve a fuel consumption saving of at least 15 per cent over the average amount of energy consumed by the LMP1 finishers in 2013.

Low consumption of tyres – the number of tyres used by the winning crew during the race must not exceed nine sets.

Michelin anticipates that these five criteria will represent a significant challenge for the teams involved in endurance racing. “This award has been created with the intention of it being won,” comments Vialle. “We deliberately set ambitious criteria but we believe they are achievable. Naturally, beating the distance record will call for favourable circumstances, such as mild weather and few interruptions. 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 that is the case, the Michelin Total Performance Award will be up for grabs again in 2015 and, if necessary, in the years after that until it is won.”

The Michelin Total Performance Award will go to the most efficient competitor, irrespective of the tyre brand they use.

This sort of award is something of a tradition at Michelin. As long ago as 1908, the company proposed a prize of 100,000 Francs to the first pilot who succeeded in taking off from Paris and landing at the summit of the Puy de Dôme mountain in France’s Auvergne region. The prize-money – equivalent to €400,000 in today’s money – was won three years later by the aviator Eugène Renaux.

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