As announced in June, 2013, the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours will see Michelin introduce the Michelin Total Performance Award, a new competition which seeks to speed up innovation in favour of not only performance on the racetrack but also sustainable mobility.
In addition to benefiting from the backing of endurance racing’s governing organisations, this award coincides with the turn taken by the discipline’s technical regulations from this year. The grant will be awarded to the first team which succeeds in fulfilling five criteria relating to performance, longevity and energy efficiency. When these five conditions are met, one million Euros will be ploughed into the financing of research into sustainable mobility by an independent academic institute.
The initiative fits perfectly with the approach that Michelin has been championing for many years already, as Pascal Couasnon, the Director of Michelin Motorsport explains:
“In the world of motorsport, Michelin is a technical partner which contributes to giving real meaning to the discipline. In accordance with this principle, and in association with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the Michelin Green X Challenge was introduced in 2009 as an integral part of endurance racing’s regulations. The objective of the challenge was to reward the sport’s most energy-efficient competitors. The Michelin Total Performance Award marks the next phase of the company’s responsible involvement in motorsport, from both the societal and environmental points of view.”
In the same way as Michelin’s research specialists strive to combine seemingly irreconcilable performance-related qualities in a single tyre as part of the Michelin Total Performance plan, Le Mans competitors will need to produce a comprehensive tour de force to stand a chance of claiming the Michelin Total Performance Award. Olivier Vialle, Michelin Motorsport’s Marketing Director, stressed:
“The idea is to reward a unique achievement based simultaneously on the notions of exceptional performance, longevity and energy efficiency.”
The five criteria that will need to be met to be able to claim the Michelin Total Performance Award consequently focus on these notions:
- Criterion N°1: Victory
- To be considered for this prize, the team must win the Le Mans 24 Hours outright.
- Criterion N°2: Performance over a single lap
- The winning car must also post the fastest race lap.
- Criterion N°3: A new distance record
- The winning crew must beat the race’s distance record. Since 2011, it has stood at 5,410km.
- Criterion N°4: Reduced fuel consumption
- The winner must achieve a fuel consumption saving of at least 15 percent over the average amount of energy consumed by the LMP1 finishers in 2013.
- Criterion N°5: Low consumption of tyres
- The number of tyres used by the winning crew during the race must not exceed nine sets.
These five criteria clearly represent a significant challenge for the teams involved in endurance racing. Olivier Vialle added:
“This award has been created with the intention of it being won. We deliberately set ambitious criteria but we believe they are achievable. Naturally, beating the distance record will call for favourable circumstances, such as mild weather and few interruptions. Meeting the tyre-related criterion stands out as a big challenge in itself because the prototypes will use smaller tyres at Le Mans this year. Perhaps we won’t see all five criteria met this year. If that is the case, the Michelin Total Performance Award will be up for grabs again in 2015 and, if necessary, in the years after that until it is won.”
The Michelin Total Performance Award will go to the most efficient competitor, irrespective of the tyre brand they use.
This sort of award is something of a tradition at Michelin. As long ago as 1908, the company proposed a prize of 100,000 Francs to the first pilot who succeeded in taking off from Paris and landing at the summit of the Puy de Dôme mountain in France’s Auvergne region. The prize-money – equivalent to €400,000 in today’s money – was won three years later by the aviator Eugène Renaux.
The Michelin Total Performance Award is a further sign of the company’s commitment to sustainable mobility which also takes the form of ongoing research and a history of initiatives such as the Michelin Challenge Bibendum which will this year be organised in China.