BRASELTON, Ga.—As the 2019 IMSA championship season draws to a close, Michelin North America Inc. is reflecting on what it considers a successful first season as the series' exclusive tire supplier and sponsor.
"Our objective at the start of the year was very simple," said Chris Baker, director of motorsport for MNA. "We wanted to get better operationally at every race, so that by the end of the 2019 season, the consensus of the paddock community and the fans would be that IMSA had made a good decision in choosing Michelin as the official tire partner."
IMSA selected Michelin in mid-2018 to succeed Continental Tire the Americas as the exclusive race tire partner for its various racing series. Continental had served in that capacity for nine seasons, 2010-18.
For Michelin, this season was all about the numbers—100-plus cars entered in three championships, 220-plus drivers, 19 eligible automotive nameplates and 35,000-plus tires used throughout the season, all built at a dedicated race tire factory in Clermont-Ferrand, France, and shipped to MNA's motorsports division in Greenville, S.C.
It's the number 19, though, that carries extra weight for MNA and the executives who green-lighted the company's decision to bid for the IMSA contract.
That's the number of car brands that were seen in competition throughout the year, nearly all of which have models with Michelin tires as original equipment.