Michelin’s endurance tyre range prepared for double stinting at season’s most exacting venue

02 DUMAS Romain (fra) JANI Neel (che) LIEB Marc (ger) Porsche 919 hybrid lmp1 team Porsche action during the 2016 FIA WEC World Endurance Championship, 6 Hours of Shanghai from november 4 to 6, at Shanghai, China - Photo Florent Gooden / DPPI

This year again, the 6 Hours of Shanghai – penultimate round of the 2017 FIA WEC – could prove decisive in sealing the outcomes of the Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ title chases across the different classes. Although the experts are predicting mild weather, tyre choice promises to play a crucial role given that 2017 regulations mean teams will need to double stint on the same tyres.

With Saturday expected to be overcast, followed by sunny intervals on Sunday, the temperature is unlikely to exceed 20°C over the Shanghai weekend, which means teams will be able to opt for competitive strategies as a function of track temperature which is itself dictated by the asphalt’s heat-absorption properties.

From the tyre point of view, the 5.451km Hermann Tilke-designed circuit is particularly demanding due to its combination of short straights, slow turns and two much longer straights.

The cars tend to run with high-downforce set-ups and the layout calls for repeated heavy braking plus hard re-acceleration. As a result, tyres get very little respite, not to mention the fact that Shanghai is one of the most abrasive venues of the championship.

All these factors influence wear rates, of course, but the sporting regulations compel double stinting for the LM P1 and LM GTE Pro cars. However, the consistency of Michelin’s endurance racing tyres means they will be able to comply with this requirement in complete safety.

“Shanghai is the hardest round of the calendar in terms of tyre wear and degradation due to the abrasiveness of the asphalt,” says Jérôme Mondain, the manager of Michelin’s endurance racing programmes. “The corkscrew-like profile of certain corners adds to the challenge since the onus of ensuring grip is on the tyres because of the cars’ low downforce configurations. The biggest challenge for us will be the double-stinting which is made mandatory by the 2017 regulations. Smart tyre management consequently promises to play a big role in the teams’ respective strategies and the neutral weather should see them run a variety of compound choices.”

For the 6 Hours of Shanghai, Michelin’s LMP and LM GTE partners will be able to choose between MEDIUM and HARD slicks, while WETs and Full WETs will be on hand as alternatives if it rains. The LM P1 teams will also be able to fit the versatile MICHELIN Hybrid in drying conditions.

LM P1 (31/71-18)

Michelin’s range for LM P1 prototypes consists of three types of tyre: slicks, a ‘hybrid’ tyre and two wet weather tyres.

This year, the appellation of Michelin’s slicks is based on their compound, namely SOFT, MEDIUM, HARD and HARD Plus.

Porsche LMP Team and Toyota Gazoo Racing use bespoke tyres developed to match the specific characteristics of their respective cars.

The MICHELIN Hybrid was introduced to replace the more conventional intermediate tyre for the first time in 2012. Its revolutionary compound means this pattern-less solution can be used in damp and drying conditions.

Michelin’s wet weather options are a Wet and a Full Wet.

Tyre allocation for the 6 Hours of Shanghai (qualifying and race): four sets of four tyres, plus two spares.

LM GTE (front: 30/68-18 / rear: 31/71-18)

Like its LM P1 tyres, Michelin has reverted to using the type of compound to distinguish between its slick tyres (SOFT, MEDIUM and HARD).

Following extensive work on the compounds of its tyres for LM GTE cars, Michelin dropped the use of intermediate tyres for this class some years ago.

Michelin’s wet weather options for LM GTE cars are a Wet and a Full Wet.

The FIA World Endurance Championship requires LM GTE Am teams to fit tyres designed for the LM GTE Pro cars in 2016.

Tyre allocation for the 6 Hours of Shanghai (qualifying and race): four sets of four tyres, plus two spares.