Despite the complex conditions which marked this year’s Bol d’Or, Michelin kicked off the 2012 Endurance World Championship with a podium finish in association with its partner, Monster Energy Yamaha Austrian Racing Team (YART). In addition to Michelin’s third place in the Superbike (EWC) class, Louit Moto 33-Michelin – which fielded the youngest rider line-up on the grid – produced an impressive performance, with lap times on a par with those of the EWC frontrunners during the early part of the race to dominate the Super Stock category. Then, in the difficult weather shortly after sunrise on Sunday morning, the N°33 Kawasaki lapped as much as four seconds quicker than the top EWC bikes, a performance helped by its tyre strategy. Indeed, Michelin’s partners benefited from solutions that were perfectly suited to the variety of track conditions encountered during the 24-hour race.
This year’s endurance racing season kicked off with the 76th Bol d’Or at Magny-Cours, France, where the French tyre firm finished on the podium with its partner YART (Yamaha N°7) who came away with 22 points. The Mandy KAINZ-led Austrian team’s three riders (Igor JERMAN, Steve MARTINS and Gwen
GIABBANI) started from fifth on the grid before producing a quick, consistent run to snatch a podium finish from the grasp of the similar Michelin-equipped GMT 94 Yamaha just 30 minutes before the chequered flag. Tyre strategy played an important role in this result because of the particularly low temperatures, which dipped to as low as 5°C, as well as showery w eather and wind.
Thanks to its experience of top-flight motorcycle racing, Michelin was able to provide its partners with a range of competitive, innovative solutions for the changeable conditions. Indeed, it is the spectrum of conditions encountered in the course of the Endurance World Championship which enables the French firm to use the series to develop its two-wheel range, accelerate innovation and carry over the lessons learned on the racetrack to its road tyres.
A concrete illustration of this commitment to the transfer of technologies came in the Super Stock class where the Luit Moto 33-run Kawasaki put in a particularly assertive display on rain tyres. From the start it emerged in an eloquent third place overall behind two Superbike machines. Then, during Sunday morning’s rain shortly after the 16-hour mark, 19-year old Loris BAZ was the fastest rider on the track! Said Pascal COUASNON, Michelin Competition’s new director: “We are pleased to have kicked off this fiercely competitive championship with a podium finish. Michelin sees open competition between tyre firms on the racetrack as an essential part of the Group’s commitment to motor racing. Going head-to-head with other brands is a strong stimulant for us and drives us to innovate and develop increasingly competitive
tyres for our racing partners and owners of road bikes.”
The second round of the Endurance World Championship will take teams to Qatar on June 9-10 for the Doha 8 Hours. Michelin’s objective will be a repeat win after that of its partner GMT 94 in 2011.