There are a few races that need no further explanation other than their title. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is among them. Simply put, it’s one of the most grueling motorsports challenges putting state-of-the-art engineering to the test. But over the decades that the race has been run, one component has remained critical to teams’ success: Tires. This 15-minute mini-documentary produced by Michelin shows the company’s involvement with Audi’s Le Mans team, and gives a unique insight into what it takes to win one of the world’s most famous motorsports competitions.
Tom Kristensen, one of the drivers of the winning team, described Le Mans as “What drives us all. It’s the hardest race. Night, day, hot, dirty. It’s one race, one year, and one winner.” Preparation for Le Mans starts as soon as the previous year’s race is over. Race tires are tested continuously for 30 hours at a time, to ensure that they’re up to the rigors of a 24-hour race.
In 2012, Michelin came out with a new concept in race tires, “intermediate” slicks, which are designed to be used in moderately wet weather. Traditionally, racing slicks were swapped out for grooved rain tires in wet conditions, but these new tires were designed for grip even on wet surfaces, while providing a large contact patch characteristic of a racing slick. Watch the video below for the drivers’ and engineers’ insights into the Le Mans racing experience.