AKRON (Sept. 5)—Groupe Michelin, via organic growth and despite unfavorable currency swings, edged back to the top of the ranking of the world's tire makers last year, posting 2001 tire sales of $13.4 billion, 1.7 percent better than in 2000. Michelin´s gains coincided with lower sales by Bridgestone Corp. Bridgestone´s well-publicized problems in North America left sales by the Bridge-stone/Firestone companies in the Americas 4.4 percent behind 2000, holding down Bridgestone's global tire sales to $13 billion, or 5.8 percent below the previous year when expressed in dollars. No. 3 Goodyear also reported lower tire sales last year vs. 2000, down 2 percent to $12.5 billion. Goodyear´s unit sales fell 1.8 percent to 219.3 million, but internally the company claims this still makes it the largest tire maker in the world on a unit basis.