Monday, August 18, 2014

From Track to Street: Michelin Pilot Sport Experience 2014

Photos by Ulysses Ang and Michelin Press
Michelin has always believed that the best test bed for its tires is motorsports. For more than a century, Michelin has been committed to bring exceptional performance through tires in every racing principle it participates in from Formula One to the 24 Hours of Le Mans to the World Rally Championship. Through the spirit of competition, the French tire brand has developed ‘Michelin Total Performance’, a philosophy that combines seemingly conflicting virtues into one cohesive ideology that dictates each and every tire that they produce. Through its research and development, including grueling tests on the world’s most demanding race tracks, Michelin has managed to combine exceptional grip without compromises to longevity and fuel economy.

This ‘track to street’ approach is very much evident at the Michelin Pilot Sport Experience, a one-of-a-kind experience where regular people (like motoring journalists) get to experience the adrenaline rush of piloting some of the most competitive racing cars in the world all wearing various ultra-high performance tires from Michelin. Now on its ninth year, the 2014 edition of the Michelin Pilot Sport Experience sees more than 500 customers, journalists, and social media commentators from 16 countries at the legendary Sepang International F1 Circuit in Malaysia. Under the careful watch of professional instructors and renowned race car drivers, everyone got to try various racing disciplines in one unforgettable afternoon. This year, the line-up of cars included: Citroen C2 rally car, race-prepped Toyota 86, Renault Clio Cup Car, and finally, Formula 4 open-wheeled single seater. The afternoon was capped off with hot laps in the Lamborghini Gallardo Super Trofeo 2013 and a two-seater Le Mans LMP2 prototype race car.



Aside from on and off road track driving, there was also a Pit Stop Challenge where participants got to experience what it feels like to change tires in a motorsport setting complete with pneumatic wheel gun and all.

Also unveiled at the Michelin Pilot Sport Experience is the new Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 ultra-high performance tire, the latest generation of road legal track tires designed for highly-engineered super cars. The performance of the Pilot Sport Cup 2 is demonstrated by the fact that it’s the sole original equipment fitment (OEM) on ground-breaking cars such as the Ferrari 458 Speciale, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series, and the Porsche 918 Spyder.



A new twist this year is that Michelin invited the participation of the winners of its online game, Right 2 Race. Attracting 3,647 entrants, the 25 finalists from 6 countries lived their dreams by partaking in the Michelin Pilot Sport Experience. The Champion this year is no less than Francis Ivan Isada from the Philippines with Mitchell Lukasz from Australia and Willy Vaniliy Teo from Malaysia taking second and third respectively. Isada received a special surprise when it was announced that he’ll go on an all-expense paid trip to witness the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June 2015. To complete his experience, Isada will also dine at 3-Star Michelin restaurants in Paris on his arrival. At Le Mans, he will be flown by helicopter for a tour of the track and visit areas of the circuit restricted to the public.

With absolutely no competitive motorsports experience (Gran Turismo doesn’t count), the Michelin Pilot Sport Experience afforded people such as myself to test personal limits all in a safe environment. With only a few minutes to adjust to each style of motorsport, it was truly a fulfilling experience to be able to push faster and harder while feeling completely safe and secure. It was also fascinating to experience the slip-and-slide nature of rally driving, the phenomenal mechanical grip provided by the Renault Clip Cup car and the Toyota 86, and the out-of-this-world aerodynamic grip of a Formula 4 racing car. No other experience comes close to this one.



“With the Michelin Pilot Sport Experience, we are focusing on bringing to Asia the unique opportunity that was only available to motorsport professionals. Participants will discover first hand our products’ performance, their qualities, and the excellence of our services in safe environment,” said Tony Menard, Passenger Car and Light Truck Marketing Director, Southeast Asia and Oceana.


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