Behind-the-scenes with Michelin and Audi at the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours

In the build up to this year’s Le Mans 24 Hour race, Michelin has interviewed various members of the Audi Motorsport team to get an insight on what it takes to win at the world’s most prestigious endurance race, which takes place this weekend (16-17 June).

Motorsport Director for Audi Sport, Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, describes it as ‘taking a whole season of Formula 1 and racing it over one weekend’. While Audi race engineer Kyle Wilson-Clarke talks about the rigours the team face over such a gruelling competition, describing the event as “.. a long one for the car but it’s a long one for the crew as well!”.

Kyle outlines how the crews have to start very early in the morning to prepare for the 9:00am warm-up. Then the race doesn’t start until three in the afternoon – meaning the crew has done a full day of work before the race is even underway.

Also in the video, Audi Sport’s Leena Gade – the first female race engineer to win Le Mans, who talks about leading her team and the vital checks that are undertaken during the race weekend.

Pre-race superstitions

Finally in the video below, two-time Le Mans winner Allan McNish dispels the myth about the quirky superstitions ‘some’ drivers often adopt before a race.

* * *

With 14 straight wins under its belt, Michelin is hoping for another successful year. As well as supplying Audi, Michelin are the tyre maker of choice for Toyota’s return to Le Mans, racing its TS030 Hybrid.

The TS030 is a petrol/electric hybrid prototype with a 3.4-litre normally-aspirated V8 and a system comprising of super-capacitors instead of batteries to store the energy recovered under braking. The chassis was designed by TMG in Köln.

Michelin will also be supplying leading LMP1 privateer squad Strakka Racing featuring British driver Danny Watts, the Honda-powered HPD ARX 03a driven by fellow Brits, Jonny Kane and Nick Leventis and the JRM HPD ARX 03a, driven by Peter Dumbreck, David Brabham and Karun Chandhok.

Perhaps the toughest challenge facing Michelin this year is the invitational Highcroft Racing-run Nissan Delta Wing, as driven by Marino Franchitti, brother of 3-time Indy 500 champion Dario.

The Nissan Delta Wing aims to complete the 24 hours having used half the fuel together with half as much tyre wear, so it looks like being a very busy event for the French tyre maker and hopefully a successful one too.