Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins, Photos by Michelin North America & Porsche
Wow, what a sensational race weekend to complete the 2023 International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) season during the 26th Annual Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Congratulations to Cadillac Racing for taking the manufacturer’s crown with the Cadillac V-Series.R and walking away with the flagship IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Four teams headed into the competition with the possibility of finishing victorious, but Cadillac’s drivers utilized efficient racing, a patient strategy, and pure determination for the prestigious honors. As well, Meyer Shank Racing won the final GTP race for Acura. Bravo!
Southeast Racing Excitement
Located an hour north of the Atlanta airport in Braselton, GA, the 12-turn and 2.54-mile Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta hosted various activities for motorsports enthusiasts. Showcases included the 2-hour Fox Factory 120 sprint (for all IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge teams), a Fan Zone with simulated racing games, official merchandise, vehicle displays such as the Acura ZDX premium electric vehicle and high-output BMW XM, Michelin performance tires, RECARO seats, and of course food trucks. Families and aficionados traveled from all parts of the country to witness the action, many camping in their RVs for the energetic weekend. Additionally, media guests of Acura Motorsports received a thrilling NSX Type-S Hot Lap session with driver Ryan Eversley, and took a guided tour of the Grid Walk.
Michelin Racing USA
As the official tire sponsor and supplier of IMSA, Michelin utilizes motorsports heroics to develop and define its rubber technologies in a variety of vehicles, tracks, and race conditions. In fact, the Greenville, SC-based tire company extended its sponsorship rights over the weekend along with WeatherTech. They have developed a brand-new range of Michelin Pilot Sport GT race tires that last longer due to a 40% ratio in sustainable materials. With a deep and methodical history in endurance racing, Michelin has accumulated experience from 21 consecutive wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, for example, and constantly challenges itself to achieve elevating improvement. Moreover, Michelin is a technical partner for many of the world’s top-performance automakers.
From a community perspective, another highlight is Michelin’s partnership with the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer, one of IMSA’s aligned charities. For every Michelin race tire procured by motorsports teams, Michelin will donate to the foundation since the goal is to raise awareness of pediatric cancer and support young patients and their families.
Race Classes at IMSA
The heavily hyped hybrid-powered Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) cars are what many race fans came to witness. Other IMSA classes consist of Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2), Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3), GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO), and GT Daytona (GTD). In fact, four participating manufacturers in the new GTP class rolled on the road course separated by just 64 points, led by Porsche Penske Motorsport and the Porsche 963s. Acura, BMW, Cadillac, or Porsche could have claimed the manufacturer’s championship at the conclusion of the weekend’s Motul Petit Le Mans.
Grand Touring Prototype (GTP)
The newest and most technologically advanced Prototype race car took to the track for the first time this year. It features a common hybrid powertrain for all teams, using kinetic energy gained in braking and subsequently stores it in the batteries for later use. Four global automakers, Acura, BMW, Cadillac, and Porsche are entered in the class. Every hundredths of a second in this category matters, so a typical 50-man team works diligently to gain strategic advantages. The BMW M Hybrid V8 management took us for a behind-the-scenes tour through the garage and three trailers for an in-depth look at its setup. Each manufacturer developed a unique internal combustion engine, bodywork styling, and software to take on this cutting-edge challenge.
Before the festivities began, every team was enthused over the possibilities. “It’s a clear yes,” said Urs Kuratle, Porsche Motorsport director of Factory Racing (LMDh). “Really, it’s been an amazing season. We all want to win, and we all actually won a race. That’s quite remarkable, when everything is new, and there were very tight battles in all the races.
The BMW M Hybrid V8 GTP
The BMW M Hybrid V8 is empowered with a twin-turbo V8 P66/3 engine that puts out 640-horsepower (regulated) and 479 lb-ft of torque. Styling is pompous and dynamic as it features a forward-leaning shark nose, wide laser-lit kidneys, iconic twin diagonal headlights, triangular elements that cascade across the vehicle, and some hints of blue and purple highlights to articulate the natural colors of electricity. Increased aerodynamic performance stems from the air that passes beneath and through the wide kidneys, which is fundamental for cooling and efficiency of downforce. Moreover, new Swiss light technology replaces LEDs to provide ultra-bright and ultra-uniform light produced by a nano-active optical fiber activated by a laser.
Acura ARX-06 Hybrid GTP
During The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering, Acura showcased its electrified ARX-06 endurance racing prototype engineered with specific bodywork and aerodynamics based on a new ORECA LMDh chassis. The racecar is motivated by an electrified hybrid power unit featuring a custom twin-turbocharged 2.4-liter V6 developed by Honda Performance Development (HPD), the racing arm for Acura Motorsports in North America.
“Precision Crafted Performance is at the heart of everything Acura does,” said Jon Ikeda, vice president and Acura brand officer. “If you’re a performance brand, you have to go racing. It’s that simple. Now, with the introduction of the new, electrified Acura ARX-06, we look forward to facing off against other premium automotive brands from around the world – and continuing our winning ways.”
Accommodations and Porsche Cayenne Coupe Weekend Ride
In addition to the primary race, the four days of events and activities are long and exhausting. Therefore, you want to retreat to a comfortable and appealing hotel afterward. With the keys to a Carrara White Metallic 2024 Porsche Cayenne Coupe to escort me and my daughter enthusiastically between locations, we felt right at home in the luxuriant Chateau Elan Resort & Winery, a landmark destination in North Georgia’s rolling foothills. The renowned property is home to newly renovated luxury guest rooms, private villas, and heavenly spa suites that offer a collection of spacious, elegantly furnished accommodations with modern bathrooms featuring oversized soaking tubs and separate showers.
The 10-hour IMSA WeatherTech Championship finale was full of entertaining on-track battles, race camaraderie, family fun, and great people to vibe with. We’ll see you back in 2024!