4 questions for Philippe Mussati, Manager of Michelin’s Customer Competition Department
The Nürburgring 24 hours is a unique endurance race. Its 25km circuit combining the legendary Nordschleife and the current Grand Prix circuit immerses participants in a mechanical experience complete with sweat, burning rubber and sometimes twisted metal. We took advantage of our presence at the race to meet Philippe Mussati, to find out how Michelin approaches the race and more importantly how the experience gained on the German asphalt is used to develop touring tyres.
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Can you tell us what's special about the tyres available for the various teams here?
We don’t make specific Nürburgring tyres. Our tyre range is designed to cover the entire championship. When these tyres are specified we include all specific features that may be encountered during the championship, for example, the bumpy track here at Nürburgring or the high speeds reached at Monza that may impact the tyre’s thermal dimension.
Do you have tuned and/or modified tyres for the specific needs of certain teams?
We have to distinguish the 2 types of products available here:
Commercial tyres that traditionally all teams can buy from their resellers. These tyres are available here for all participants.
We also have development tyres that are only for certain top teams who are likely to win. In which case, we will carry out a specific tuning. However, the global offer made to top teams will be the same; the only differences will be, for example, an Audi R8 may be fitted with a softer tyre than a Porsche, or other such choices. But ultimately, the offer is the same.
How do you track these teams during the race? And how do you prepare?
For this race, we’ve brought along 7 technicians and 1 developer to manage the entire paddock. Half of this staff is dedicated to the top teams. There is no specific preparation, we are very familiar with the race so we know what to expect.
How does the experience acquired during such a demanding race end up in touring tyres?
All touring tyres from the super sport range (Pilot SuperSport, Pilot Sport Cup…) benefit from a technology derived from Michelin’s racing experience. Particularly with regards compound optimisation, the carcass designs and fabrics. The link with the racing world is clearly obvious with these products.
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