June 19, 2019 |
2019 Le Mans 24 Hours
• A 22nd straight win, victory in all four classes and World Titles for Michelin.
• A new fastest race lap record with Toyota Gazoo Racing (3m17.297s).
• Faultless performance and consistency from Michelin’s endurance racing tyres, including quadruple-stint strategies in LMP1.
The 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours saw Toyota Gazoo Racing claim first and second places to clinch the 2018/2019 FIA World Endurance Championship title with Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima (Japan’s first ever FIA World Champion) and Fernando Alonso who steered the N°8 Toyota TS050-Hybrid to Michelin’s 22nd straight Le Mans victory on Sunday. The N°7 sister prototype of Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez was in front at the start of the final hour of the race when one of its tyres was damaged by debris picked up from the track, forcing Lopez to pit for a replacement set.
Toyota’s success is the fruit of a competitive package that placed the emphasis on performance, consistency and energy efficiency, to which Michelin contributed from the start to the end of the 24-hour race.
- Performance: Mike Conway (Toyota N°7) posted a new race lap record for the Circuit de la Sarthe with a time of 3m17.297s on Lap 4 to improve on the previous benchmark (3m17.475s) set by André Lotterer (Audi R18 e-tron Quattro) in 2015.
- Consistency: Toyota’s race plan was based on a strategy of quadruple stints of 11 laps each, which is equivalent to 600 kilometres on the same set of tyres. Fernando Alonso clocked his fastest race lap during one of his ‘fourth stints’ in the N°8 car.
- Energy efficiency: Toyota consumed 35-percent less fuel than it did in 2012, the year it first contested the FIA WEC.
The overall top three at Le Mans was rounded out by the N°11 SMP Racing-run BR Engineering BR1-AER of Vitaly Petrov, Mikhaïl Aleshin and Stoffel Vandoorne who produced a combative performance and a pace that was not all that far off that of the Japanese hybrid prototypes.
“I would like to congratulate everyone at Toyota Gazoo Racing on what they achieved at Le Mans this year,” said Michelin Motorsport Director Matthieu Bonardel. “The team provided a further illustration of its race-craft and commitment by giving its absolute best all the way to the chequered flag. The records it posted during the race are particularly impressive and help to demonstrate that to win, youneed Michelin tyres that are capable of delivering performance over a long period of time.”
Le Mans success and the 2018/2019 LMP2 crowns for Signatech Alpine Matmut
Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrao and Pierre Thiriet switched to Michelin tyres for the Super Sebring meeting in March at a time when they figured in second place in the world championship standings. Their class-topping result with Michelin at Le Mans allowed them to wrap up the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers, while Signatech Alpine Matmut made sure of the Teams’ crown.
“Well done to everyone at Signatech Alpine Matmut. We are delighted to have contributed to their win here and to their World Title in their category,” said Jérôme Mondain, the manager of Michelin’s endurance racing programmes. “I believe we showcased the performance of our LMP2 tyres throughout the 2018/2019 FIA WEC Super-Season and today we harvested the fruit of that groundwork by topping what is a particularly fiercely-fought category.”
Victory for Ferrari / AF Corse at Le Mans, while Porsche GT Team secures the titles
The LM GTE Pro class at Le Mans was won by the N°51 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo shared by Pier Guidi/Calado/Serra thanks to the high-level performance of the Italian cars from the word go, and particularly that of the N°51 car which took the fight to its rivals Aston Martin, Porsche and Corvette who all took turns in front. The Italian team’s strategy proved unbeatable, however, and perfect management of its tyres allowed it to benefit from optimum performance throughout the 24-hour race as a function of the shifting ground temperatures which ranged from 30°C during the day to 15°C at night.
Porsche GT Team completed the 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours in second and third places thanks to the N°91 and N°93 911 RSRs of Lietz/Bruni/Makowiecki and Pilet/Bamber/Tandy respectively. Their result means the German make has now added the Drivers’ world title for Christensen/Estre (who were joined at Le Mans by Laurens Vanthoor) to the squad’s Manufacturers’ crown.
Keating Motorsports and Team Project 1: success first time out!
The 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours provided the first case of Ford entrusting a GT to a private team, and the American make’s confidence was paid back when Keating Motorsport and its trio of drivers Keating/Bleekemolen/Fraga won the LM GTE Am class.
Meanwhile, Team Project 1 concluded its successful inaugural FIA WEC campaign with second place in LM GTE Am at Le Mans with the N°56 Porsche 911 RSR. That sufficed to clinch the FIA Cup, while Bergmeister/Lindsey/Perfetti secured the Drivers’ spoils.
“We are very pleased with the outcome of the 2018/2019 FIA WEC which boosted our endurance racing record and added significantly to our knowledge base,” added Matthieu Bonardel. “The season’s Super-Final at Le Mans produced some excellent battles in all the classes, as well as some valuable technical feedback concerning the performance and constancy of our tyres. Michelin’s involvement in endurance racing fits perfectly with our objectives, as well as with our vision of motorsport as an incubator for new mobility solutions. The human factor plays a huge role in endurance racing, especially at Le Mans, and our staff of more than 150 gave their very best throughout race week to serve not only our brand but also our partners. I would like to thank them for that!”