This intelligent software uses modeling taken from the past decade of race data that Michelin put into an app to essentially give their track day enthusiast customers an “engineer in a box” that provides tire pressure recommendations to get the most out of the tires based off of how they are performing for the conditions. This is as close as you can get to having a dedicated engineer to support your car at each event like Michelin does for each of their professional race teams.
Embedding the Track Connect sensor in the inner liner of the tire ensures far more accurate and responsive readings than traditional TPMS systems that measure on the wheel. Temperature and pressures are measured and transmitted to a small cigarette pack-sized box located in the dash and picks up radio frequency signals from tire and transmits the readings to your phone via Bluetooth. Battery life is 3 years of continual use and should outlast the tire. When the tire isn’t moving the sensor goes into sleep giving it similar longevity to TPMS systems. Like TPMS systems, they are removable and replaceable when it is time to buy new tires. Just put in fresh batteries and you’re good to go.
Fundamentally, tires and tire pressures are one of the most important aspects of a cars handling and performance; and they are often overlooked or simply a mystery for most people. Ideal tire pressures will vary depending on the suspension design and weight of the car, as well as the tire size, weather conditions and the track itself. For example, due to the high vertical loads from the banking, Daytona requires higher tire pressures than most tracks. Short of correctly using a PROBE TYPE tire pyrometer (which is a whole other discussion) and knowing what those numbers mean, Track Connect is one of the best tools to ensure your tires are making the most grip possible.
Generally, factory-recommended tire pressures are higher than ideal (especially door sill pressures), which are designed for stability and water displacement, not for max grip. On track, tires can last up to 30% longer with recommended pressures compared to factory tire pressures. Through Michelin’s extensive database, the app will ensure the recommended pressures are never too low which could cause the tire to pull off the rim’s bead when cold.
Track Connect simplifies this by taking all of the variables into consideration and keeps the tire temperatures and pressures in the designed window of operation to optimize the tire’s grip. Not only does Track Connect allow you to use your phone as a real-time tire pressure gauge, but it has a lap timing function and allows you to replay and see how your tires build pressure and heat over a session. The phone display changes from red to green when you’re in the window of where the adjustment needs to be. You can share though social media and use the phone to Mapquest navigate you to the track.
How Tread Design, Compounding, and Construction Come Together
When coming up with a bespoke tire for a particular car model, Michelin uses all of the above tools and a few others to create many different combinations of designs, compounds, and construction “submissions” that are brought to the racetrack for testing. The car manufacturer’s development team will test these tires and note what they liked and disliked about each submission and then request changes to various aspects in order to achieve the subjective and objective performance targets for the car. Michelin then goes back and creates more tire submissions based off of this feedback and the process repeats itself multiple times until the development team is happy with how the tire feels and performs.
I’ve driven on tons of different PS4S and Cup 2 tire submissions for the GT350, 2019 GT350, GT350R, GT500, GT500 CFTP, Ford GT, and the main development engineer/drivers (like Ford Performance’s Vehicle Dynamicist, Steve Thompson) have driven on far more tires submissions than I have.
During development of the car, systems like traction Control, ABS, and Magneride shock control are all refined and programmed around the characteristics of a specific tire. What the tire does to the system is what the system is expecting, and is necessary to performs at its peak. Changing to a vastly different tire, in terms of size, or the tire’s inherent spring rate, grip level, etc… can bring down multiple aspects of its performance. Because of this, tires are a very integral component in the overall electronic system of a car, not only from a vehicle dynamics standpoint.
It’s interesting to note that the demands of a front tire vary greatly from the rear tire. Not only from the standpoint that the front tires bear the most longitudinal load when braking and steer the car, but the rear tires (assuming a rear-wheel-drive car) require different attributes to put the power to the ground, as well as have lateral grip and ability to handle ‘combined-loading’ of accelerating and cornering when exiting a turn.
Table of Contents:
Page 1 – Intro, My Background, Developing Bespoke Tires
Page 2 – TREAD DESIGN – Tread Depth
Page 3 – TREAD DESIGN – Circumferential Grooves, Outer Shoulder Features & Sipes, Cup 2R
Page 4 – COMPOUNDING – Compound Variation Across Tread & Tread Depth, Cup 2R
Page 5 – CONSTRUCTION – Carcass Profile/Shape, Width, Ribs
Page 6 – CONSTRUCTION – Sidewall Stiffness, Run Flat Tires, Cup 2 Connect
Page 7 – How Tread Design, Compounding, and Construction Come Together
Page 8 – Conclusion