We all love a good trackday. The freedom to drive to the limit of your car, its tyres and your skill. Now Michelin, in partnership with one of the UK’s premier trackday operators, RMA Trackdays, has introduced a thrilling new dimension to the traditional trackday format in the form of the Michelin Pilot Sport Challenge.
Rather than chasing ultimate outright speed, the aim of the Pilot Sport Challenge is to consistently achieve a pre-determined lap time, with points deducted for going slower or faster. If you think that sounds easy, give it a go – it’s named ‘Challenge’ for good reason. Especially as you have to try hitting your target for ten laps, not just one, during a 20-minute session.
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To ensure accurate, consistent recording of lap times, you won’t be surprised to learn that ‘there’s an app for that...’ The first step in facing up to the Michelin Pilot Sport Challenge is to register to attend one of the selected trackday events at iconic UK and European circuits. You can do this by logging on to www.pilotsportexperience.michelin.co.uk.
Your car will, understandably, need to be fitted with tyres from Michelin’s outstanding Pilot Sport range (2,3, Super Sport, Cup, Cup+ and the extraordinary new Pilot Sport Cup 2), and it’s possible to purchase a set in advance and have them fitted for free on the day of the Challenge, as part of the Pilot Sport Experience (see panel, opposite). The Michelin Pilot Sport range is the ideal tyre for a challenge of this nature, because not only is it supremely grippy, its materials and engineering promote accurate steering response and very dependable, predictable performance for lap after lap. And when you really need every lap to be the same, those are qualities to be treasured.
Once registered, you’re part of Community Michelin, and you’ll be able to download the Michelin Lap Timer app. Frankly, though, the app’s name undersells its capability, as not only does it measure a multitude of performance parameters during both your training sessions and Challenge laps, it’s also pre-loaded with many of Europe’s best known circuits.
In addition to the Lap Timer, those signing up will have exclusive access to video tutorials as well as the services of Michelin’s resident racing expert – for the UK it’s Scott Mansell, former F1 development driver with teams including Lotus – for specific advice on how to tackle a particular track.
On the day of your Challenge – and the next one is scheduled for 17 September at Silverstone – information recorded by the app during the morning training sessions will be used by a Michelin expert to help you determine what your reference time should be.
And once you’re happy with that, you present your mobile device to another Michelin representative for your reference time to be logged into the app’s software.
So far, so good. Now for the challenging part. Each of your ten eligible laps is worth 100 points, so 1000 in total. For every tenth of a second you’re adrift of your reference time – either faster or slower – one point is deducted. While getting within two seconds of your target might seem a good achievement (and in other circumstances it is), that’s 20 points docked from your 1000 on one lap alone. You can quickly see how this is a challenge of mind power rather than horsepower. At the end of the session – probably with your nerves jangled and your adrenaline level spiking – you hand over your mobile device again for your times to be downloaded and your position on the leaderboard established.
The top three drivers on the day get to climb aboard the podium to receive prizes of Michelin lifestyle products. Their points totals are also entered on to the European-wide Michelin Pilot Sport Challenge league table, where at the end of the season the leader will become a Michelin ambassador for a year and be invited along as a special guest to several major motorsport events, including Le Mans.
Everyone needs a challenge in their lives – make the Michelin Pilot Sport Challenge yours.
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Michelin Pilot Sport Experience
The Pilot Sport Experience allows you to collect pre-ordered Michelin tyres and have them fitted for free at the trackside. You also get to enjoy Michelin Trackside Hospitality, which includes light refreshments, and free Wi-Fi, phone charging and photo downloading facilities (subject to availability and local track policy).
Graham Clarke of RMA Trackdays, said: ‘learning how to lap a track efficiently is no easy matter in itself, but to achieve consistency for lap after lap requires special concentration and skill.
But it’s that extra discipline, that sense of doing something different, that really appeals to our clients here at RMA. No-one who has taken part in the Michelin Pilot Sport Challenge has found it easy, but they’ve all truly enjoyed having to push themselves that bit harder.’
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2
The Pilot Sport Cup 2 also embodies the spirit of Michelin Total Performance, in that not only does it offer more roadholding than its predecessor as well as sharper directional changes, it also lasts up to 50 per cent longer than its predecessor – proof that actually you can have your cake and eat it...
The Pilot Sport Cup 2 is available in a range of sizes from 21 inches all the way down to 17-inch fitments. Following the tyre’s launch, there will be an increasing availability for smaller wheel sizes down to 15 inches, enabling Michelin to cater for many popular trackday cars.