Goodyear Racing Takes on Le Mans

The American tire giant took 7,500 tires for 39 cars to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Dan Carney, Senior Editor

June 26, 2024

4 Min Read
Goodyear's tire on an LMP2 race car.
Goodyear's tire on an LMP2 race car.Goodyear Racing

At a Glance

  • 7,500 tires
  • 39 cars in the race
  • 32,000-square-foot compound at Le Mans.

After leaving Formula 1 and Indycar as a tire supplier in the late ‘90s, Goodyear seemed to retreat to its Nascar stronghold for its racing tires. But in recent years the company has slowly fought its way back into international racing, joining the World Endurance Championship (WEC) in 2019. This year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans was the company’s biggest effort in its history, with 7,500 tires at the track in support of 39 cars in the race.

Goodyear provided racing slicks and rain tires as the exclusive supplier to both the Le Mans GT3 (LMGT3) and Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) racing classes.

The No. 91 Manthey EMA Porsche 911 GT3 R scored the LMGT3 class win, with drivers Richard Lietz, Yasser Shahin, and Morris Schuring completing 281 laps for a total distance of more than 2,375 miles.

In addition to LMGT3, Goodyear is also the exclusive tire supplier to LMP2 at Le Mans.  United Autosports’ Oliver Jarvis, Bijoy Garg, and Nolan Siegel took the LMP2 win, ahead of last year’s winner Inter Europol Competition.

Goodyear_WEC_Racing_Family.jpg

The 39 cars in these two classes made up almost two-thirds of the entire grid at Le Mans, so Goodyear tire fitters worked in shifts throughout the race to remove, inspect, and replace a set of tires in as little as three minutes. The pit lane crew of 18 track-support engineers worked directly with each team throughout the race to advise on setup and strategy.

Related:Goodyear Debuts Real-Time Tire Data at Le Mans

“Watching the LMGT3 cars line up on the Le Mans grid for the first time on Saturday was a proud moment,” says Mike McGregor, Goodyear’s Endurance Program Manager. “As we have been part of the development cycle for this new class since the beginning, working with every manufacturer to develop a tire range for this highly varied category, its first Le Mans was a special moment.

The LMGT3 spec tire runs at all of the tracks where the series races worldwide, so developing tires that can perform at such a range of tracks, while used on front-, mid-, and rear-engined cars was a significant challenge that Goodyear overcame during its 18-month development program.

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“We’ve got eight manufacturers and we’ve got to design a tire that works for all of them,” remarked Goodyear’s UK motorsport boss Michael Butler. “You’ve got Ford, Ferrari, Corvette, they all want their own tire just for their car. We can’t do that. We’ve got to design one for all of them. We went into an intensive program over eleven months to do that.”

During the race, many LMGT3 teams completed four stints on a single set of tires, amounting to around 340 miles of running, which is nearly double the distance of a Formula 1 Grand Prix race. According to Goodyear, one team even completed 45 laps or 383 miles on the same set of tires!

Related:Nascar Crew Chief Says Blown Goodyear Tires are a Symptom of Rules

This year’s rules at Le Mans prohibited the use of tire-warming blankets to prepare new tires for competition before they’re mounted to the car during the race. As a result, Goodyear engineers had to develop tires that have a “very large operating window” in terms of temperature, Butler reported. “Our tire warmup is very, very good,” he said.

The tire carcass is challenged by the high loads applied to the tire at Le Mans as a consequence of the high speeds on the straights, which generate both high centrifugal force on the tire and high aerodynamic downforce that increases the loading on the sidewall as if the car was much heavier than it is. “There is a ton of pressure, really pushing down, overworking the casing,” said Butler.

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Managing the on-track action, Goodyear’s team of tire engineers analyze data in real-time to track performance compared to what’s expected. Conditions such as track temperature and weather forecasts are fed to teams’ dedicated Goodyear engineers to guide on strategy and setup. 

RFID technology is used to track tire usage over a weekend. This is also communicated to track officials to ensure each competitor operates within the regulations. The company started building its 32,000-square-foot trackside complex May 15 in preparation for the race.

Related:Cadillac’s Swoopy Prototype Aims for Le Mans Glory in 2023

Once it was over, they packed up and left for Brazil to support the tires that had already been shipped ahead to that location for the next race.

About the Author(s)

Dan Carney

Senior Editor, Design News

Dan’s coverage of the auto industry over three decades has taken him to the racetracks, automotive engineering centers, vehicle simulators, wind tunnels, and crash-test labs of the world.

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