For Audi R8 LMS Cup tire partner Michelin, preparations for the 2015 season began long before the first race in Zhuhai. To start with, Michelin, who has worked with the Cup since its first season in 2012, changed the Cup’s reference tire to adapt to the evolution of the 2015 car, as well as the format of the races – specifically the new standing starts, which is one of the major innovations this season.
“Technically there’s a little bit more grip, but we kept the consistency of the tire which allows drivers to take advantage, especially related to the standing start,” said Patrick Dias, Michelin Asia Pacific Motorsports Director.
The new tires have proven to be a success, with the top 10 drivers often within a second of each other during qualifying, making the on-track action even more exciting.
But while Dias and his team completed the development work ahead of the season, there is still plenty to do at each race weekend, beginning with the logistics to ensure there are enough slick and wet tires at each race location. With a field of up to 22 cars, Michelin brings 50 sets of slicks and 50 sets of wet tires, totaling some 400 tires.
A crew of eight services the Cup during race weekends. During free practice, for example, they will check select cars to make sure that the teams are following the tire usage recommendations. “At the beginning of the year, you know you will have to face very different weather conditions, but also the different track surfaces and profiles,” Dias said. “With our Michelin know-how, we have developed a very fast tire and also to develop a tire that will be as fast in cold conditions as hot conditions.”