(August 17, 2005) – Last year at Road America Audi-Michelin drivers JJ Lehto and Marco Werner clinched the 2004 American Le Mans drivers championship.
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This year, the battle for the driver's crown is considerably more competitive with eight different drivers of Michelin-equipped cars having a chance to take the P1 driver's crown.
In the history of the American Le Mans Series, every P1 championship winner has used Michelin tires on his way to title success.
Audi drivers Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro currently lead the title chase with 104 points ahead of Dyson Racing Lola duo Andy Wallace with 93 and teammate Chris Dyson with 90.
Last year's champions JJ Lehto and Marco are still have a shot at the title with 87 points, just ahead of Mid-Ohio winners James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger with 85.
Dyson Racing's move to Michelin tires in 2005 has greatly enhanced the championship battle in the series' top class.
While the battle for the driver's title continues at Road America, this year's tire manufacturer's championship has already been clinched by Michelin in P1.
The championship is Michelin's 13th in ALMS history and the sixth consecutive P1 title for the "Bibendum Boys."
MORE CHAMPIONSHIPS ON THE WAY: While Michelin has already wrapped up the P1 title, another crown could be clinched this weekend in GT1 at Road America.
Thanks to the dominant performances of Michelin-equipped teams Compuware-Corvette and ACEMCO-Saleen, Michelin holds a 69-point lead over Pirelli.
If Michelin keeps at least a 67-point lead after Road America this weekend, the 14th tire manufacturer's championship in ALMS competition will be on its way to the Michelin trophy cabinet.
GT2 BATTLE FIERCE IN 2005: With the P1 crown safe and sound and the GT1 title pretty close, the fight for the GT2 tire manufacturer championship is still too close to call.
Michelin is undefeated in GT2 tire championship in the history of the ALMS.
Five championships have been won already, and Alex Job Racing Porsche duo Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas are leading the charge to win Michelin's sixth after taking four consecutive wins in a row.
Michelin currently has 122 points in the tire championship, leading Pirelli with 81 and Yokohama with 43.
While Bernhard and Dumas have won the past four in a row, they still only hold a six-point lead in the driver's championship over American Patrick Long and German Jorg Bergmeister (White Lightning/Petersen Motorsports).
Long and Bergmeister earned an early lead in the championship when they won at Sebring—a race where Bernhard and Dumas failed to score.
FAST PACE IN WISCONSIN: Road America is one of the quickest circuits in North America. Last year's pole time was 1:51.9 for a P1 car, which equates to an average speed of 129 mph.
In contrast to Le Mans, leading teams take around 3 minutes, 32 seconds for the 8.5-mile circuit—turning an average speed of 144 mph.
Mid-Ohio is the slowest circuit for average speed on the American Le Mans Series calendar.
This year's pole lap was an average speed of 113.956 mph.
Michelin's ability to double-stint tires and save time during pit stops is essential at Road America which features two long straights and a third section of the course from the Carousel to Canada Corner, where cars are on 100 percent throttle for a significant portion of the 4.048 mile circuit.
The Wisconsin circuit is the longest on the 2005 schedule. Road America and Sebring are the only two circuits longer than 3.7 miles. Most tracks on the schedule are actually shorter than 2.5 miles.
"Road America is pretty unique because tire wear is helped by the fact that there are so many long straights here," Michelin Motorsport Marketing Manager, Amanda Head said.
"While there are a lot of fast corners which do generate heat, the tire has the chance to rest on the straight and cool slightly. This definitely helps wear. This track has a lot of similarities to Le Mans in that regard."
EUROPEAN UPDATE: Former ALMS star Johnny Herbert battled torrential rain at Silverstone last weekend to take victory at the latest round of the Le Mans Endurance Series for Audi with Stephane Ortelli.
With most of the six hour race run in terrible conditions, Herbert and Ortelli used chased down their fellow Michelin rivals Nic Minassian and Jamie Campbell-Walter aboard the Creation Autosport DBA chassis.
Rollcentre Racing Dallara Judd completed a Michelin sweep of the P1 podium with Martin Short, Joao Barbosa and Vanina Ickx (the daughter of Le Mans legend, Jacky).
Michelin has won every round of the Le Mans Endurance Series since its creation in 2004. The championship is the European equivalent of the American Le Mans Series.
PORSCHE ACTION CONTINUES AT ROAD AMERICA: The picturesque Wisconsin venue will play host to the latest round of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge Presented by Michelin.
After three rounds to date, Jay Policastro holds a handy lead in the championship—helped by victory at the last round at Portland.
Policastro has 50 points to date to lead Ricardo Imery with 38, Chris Wally with 32 and Paul Orwicz with 28.
The new-for-2005 championship has proved to be an extremely open competition with three different drivers—Policastro, Lawson Aschenbach and Brent Martini winning the first three rounds.
The final round of the championship will be staged at Mazda Raceway-Laguna Seca on October 14-16, 2005.