Round 4: 6 Hours of Nürburgring
After Saturday’s sunny qualifying session, the 2017 6 Hours of Nürburgring took place in changeable conditions which had a direct influence on track temperatures. Porsche LMP Team and Toyota Gazoo Racing ended up making different tyre choices for the German race, with the former opting for the ‘hard’ option, while its Japanese rivals ran the ‘medium’ compound from start to finish.
All the LM GTE Pro teams went for medium-compound rubber and successfully double-stinted, in compliance with the regulations. The low track temperatures – which ranged from 19°C to 26°C – enabled all Michelin’s partners to benefit fully from the performance potential of their tyres.
Toyota Gazoo Racing topped qualifying to start from the front of the field and lead early on, but Porsche LMP Team’s new aerodynamic package revealed its efficiency on Lap 43 when Brendon Hartley (N°2 Porsche 919 Hybrid) eased past José-Maria Lopez (N°7 Toyota TS050-Hybrid) at the end of the main straight. Two laps later, with just 80 minutes completed, the other Porsche found a way through and the Weissach-based outfit proceeded to pull out a comfortable cushion at the top of the order while its cars traded first and second places several times. The N°7 Toyota TS050-Hybrid kept the German prototypes under pressure for the next 20 or so laps but then started to fall back and ultimately finished third. The N°8 sister car was delayed by a technical problem at the start but went on to claim fourth spot and harvest valuable championship points.
There was an all-Michelin podium in LM GTE Pro, too, spearheaded by the N°51 Ferrari 488 GTE (Calado/Pier Guidi) which fought back from seventh on the grid thanks to an energy-aware display. Its two drivers paid careful attention to fuel consumption to run longer stints and stayed on the same Michelin tyres as long as possible. The Italian machine was chased over the line by Porsche GT Team’s 911 RSRs which confirmed the potential they had shown during the previous day’s qualifying session.
“We are very pleased with the way our tyres performed at the Nürburgring this weekend,” said Jérôme Mondain, manager of Michelin Motorsport’s endurance racing programmes. “They were especially competitive in LM GTE Pro which produced another all-Michelin podium.”
The 6 Hours of Nürburgring was the last European round of the 2017 FIA WEC. Teams and drivers will next convene in September with races in Mexico and the USA, followed by action in Japan and China, before the season’s mid-November finale in Bahrain.
“We expect hotter conditions from now on, all the way through to the end of the championship,” notes Jérôme Mondain. “There are still some big challenges to come, notably in Shanghai and Bahrain where tyre allocations have been halved compared with last year.”