The recently-concluded opening round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) saw an intense 6-hour battle in Silverstone, United Kingdom last April 16.
Despite the challenging track and weather conditions, French tire maker Michelin proved itself victorious as the cars equipped with its high performance tires won with flying colors at the series’ LM P1 and LM GTE Pro classes.
In LM P1, Toyota Gazoo Racing’s TS050 Hybrid shared by drivers Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson, and Kazuki Nakajima took command of the lead right from the get-go. Running on Michelin slick racing tires, the car maintained the front position well into the half-way point of the race.
However, its momentum isn’t without some challenges as rain drizzles soon started to pour down. This was when the 2 Porsche LMP Team 919 Hybrid machines (Timo Bernhard/Brendon Hartley/Earl Bamber and Neel Jani/Nick Tandy/Andre Lotterer, respectively) saw an opportunity to catch up.
Their strategy was to shift from slick tires to Michelin intermediates (tires that do well on damp track conditions). But the rain ended as quickly as it arrived, thus not giving room for the Porsches to take the lead from the Japanese car which was still running on slicks.
At the end of the race, the Toyota driven by Buemi crossed the line in 1st place, followed by the Porsche of Hartley in 2nd. Tandy aboard another Porsche settled for 3rd.
In LM GTE Pro, Michelin-shod racecars swept the top 3 positions as well. In 1st place was team Ford Chip Ganassi with its Ford GT racer driven by Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell. Coming in 2nd place was the Ferrari 488 racecar of team AF Corse driven by James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi. Taking the 3rd spot, on the other hand, was team Porsche Motorsport’s 911 RSR with Richard Lietz and Frédéric Makowiecki behind the wheel.
Catch the action again as Michelin attempts to repeat its victory at the Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium on May 6 for the 2nd round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship.