Can you imagine how different motor sport would be without tyre troubles? An unexpected puncture or delamination can turn any contest on its head at a second’s notice. But Michelin may be about to change that. Touted, florally, as ‘an airless mobility solution’, it’s latest concept is a puncture-proof tyre – and Michelin hopes it could be commercially available for road use by 2024.
Officially known as Uptis (Unique Puncture-Proof Tire [sic] System), the new technology is already being tested in America by General Motors, which has committed to a research partnership with Michelin.
A development of Michelin’s original airless tyre concept, the Vision (unveiled in 2017), the Uptis doesn’t have a traditional sidewall but bears loads via a resin-embedded fibreglass material for which the firm has already been granted patents.
It is claimed that the Uptis could last longer than standard tyres, simply because it can never be used while underinflated.
Puncture-free tyres would have obvious sporting benefits, particularly in rallying’s hostile environment or during races such as the Le Mans 24 Hours, where prototypes have to contend with off-line debris in traffic.
Contacted by Motor Sport, Michelin said: “Uptis development continues and as part of that process we are not ruling out the possibility of using motor sport as a test bed.”
Michelin already has a number of sporting firsts, including the introduction of slicks (Le Mans 1967) and bringing radial technology to F1 (1977 British Grand Prix).
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