Michelin explains reasoning behind SUPER GT GT500 release

Michelin explained its reasoning for ending its involvement in SUPER GT’s top GT500 category at the end of the season, citing the category’s diminished value as a “laboratory”.

The French tire supplier announced last week that the 2023 season would be its last in the top category of Japan’s top sports car series, where it supplies both Nissan NISMO Zs, although it plans to maintain a presence in the GT300 division.

Michelin has said in the past that it uses SUPER GT, one of the few remaining championships in the world of motorsport with open tire competition, to inform the development of other series it is involved in, such as the Endurance World Championship.

But despite recent efforts by organizers to encourage greater longevity, SUPER GT tires still tend to be discarded after a single stint, while double and triple stints have become de rigueur in the WEC and other series.

Hiroaki Odashima, the motorsport boss of Michelin Japan, admitted that an increased emphasis on durability and durability elsewhere in motorsport had diminished the value of SUPER GT as an arena where solutions for other series can be tested.

“Until now we’ve used the GT500 class as a ‘laboratory’, but the world of motorsport has changed in terms of how we can use what we learn there,” Odashima told the edition. Japan from Motorsport.com in an exclusive interview.

“Rather than absolute speed compared to other manufacturers, the goal has become to increase mileage without sacrificing performance and using more durable materials. In SUPER GT, durability is also required, but it’s not a category that requires you to travel 700, 800 or 1000 km on a single set of tyres.

“The sporting appeal of the GT500 hasn’t changed, but seeing that its value to us is like a ‘laboratory’, if the way we can use what we learn changes, the value of staying there goes down. C This is the main reason why we are suspending our GT500 activities.

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Michelin is the only one of SUPER GT’s four tire manufacturers to have to ship its products from Europe, as the cost of freight has increased exponentially in recent years due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

But Odashima insists that this increased cost was not the motivating factor for leaving the GT500.

“It’s true that the cost of transportation has skyrocketed, but if we were to include that in our analysis of the value of the GT500, we wouldn’t have started in the first place,” Odashima said.

“It’s something we’ve known from the start as a European-based company. The decision to participate or not is not dictated by rising or falling costs.

Michelin’s decision to end its involvement in the GT500 forces the two-car NISMO team to find another tire supplier for the 2024 season.

“It was towards the end of 2022 that it became clear that continuing in SUPER GT would be difficult,” Odashima said. “We told NISMO at an early stage that we are considering temporarily suspending our involvement.

“While trying to find a way to continue, we discussed things until the final decision was made, but in the end they respected our decision. The timing of the announcement was also done to give them enough time to switch to another tire supplier.

Motorsport.tv broadcasts all qualifying sessions and races for the 2023 SUPER GT season. For more information, click here.

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