Connected rally solution joins Michelin’s motorsports portfolio
Only recently, Michelin unveiled its first connected tyre solution that amateur driving enthusiasts can go out and buy for their cars. This is Track Connect, a system compatible with the newly-launched Pilot Sport Cup 2 Connect tyre and now on sale in several European markets. A dedicated competition version has also been developed – the tyre maker calls it Michelin Motorsport Connect, and this solution will be introduced at the next rounds of the French Rally Championship between 13 and 15 April. Michelin Motorsport Connect will then initially be released in France, with prices starting at 400 euros, before being introduced elsewhere in Europe and the rest of the world.
As is the case with its amateur circuit and track day counterpart, Michelin Motorsport Connect sends tyre pressure and other pertinent information directly to the driver’s or co-driver’s smartphone (apps are available for both Android and iOS). The information comes from re-usable sensors – these are inserted into custom-made housings glued to the inside of Michelin rally tyres – and is sent to the Michelin Motorsport Connect receiver, a box of wizardry installed inside the vehicle between its front and rear wheels, before being dispatched to the user’s phone.
The wraps will come off this new system just one year after the launch of Michelin Motorsport’s My Rally Engineer application. “Our initial My Rally Engineer app, which was introduced in 2017, is a digital tool designed to allow amateur crews to track and optimise the performance of their tyres,” comments Serge Grisin, who is in charge of Michelin Motorsport’s Innovations Programme. “Today, we have gone a significant step further since Michelin Motorsport Connect enables competitors to collect data in real time and benefit from two-way dialogue with their tyres by means of a practical and intuitive new application.”
Michelin Motorsport says the new solution is the fruit of its understanding of the needs of those rally drivers and co-drivers who do not benefit from the presence of a Michelin technical advisor during events. “Connected technology is a realty in today’s tyre industry and we are exploring ways of making these innovations a real asset for our customers,” adds Grisin. “Rally crews clearly need information that can help them optimise tyre performance.”
Making correct tyre choices, carefully adjusting tyre pressures and adopting an efficient driving style not only allows performance to be maximised, it also contributes to making motorsport safer. At the same time, it can be argued that the regulations concerning tyres in rallying are becoming increasingly draconian, so it is vital to exploit their full potential.
Michelin opines that checking tyre pressures before and after special stages is key to understanding how rally tyres function. This isn’t always an easy task to carry out, though, especially when it entails parking up on a narrow road. The clock ticking down to a stage start can also generate additional stress. With Michelin Motorsport Connect, drivers and co-drivers can permanently monitor tyre pressures, while at the same time benefiting from tyre-related information and being able to log data during rallies. Analysing this data makes it easier to identify the adjustments that need to be made ahead of subsequent competitive sections.
“Thanks to Michelin Motorsport Connect, all rally competitors have access to in-car data,” concludes Grisin.