NEW YORK — Michelin North America Inc. is extending its motorsports engagement into the virtual world, agreeing to become the "official tire technology partner" of Sony Interactive Entertainment L.L.C.'s PlayStation Gran Turismo franchise.
The relationship — which kicked off at the 2019 Gran Turismo World Tour live event that wrapped up this past weekend in New York — will become more visible in October via free Michelin-themed downable content available to users, the new partners said.
Scott Clark, executive vice president of the Americas region for Group Michelin, called the new relationship a "perfect match, connecting the most successful virtual driving experience with the global leader for high-performance tires.
"Michelin leads the industry in tire simulation," Mr. Clark said, developing and tuning virtual tires on virtual vehicles before the tires are even produced.
"Combining this technology with real motorsports data will enable Sony to bring more tire strategy into the game, and in the longer term, also helps more people understand the critical role that Michelin tires play in optimizing vehicle performance," he added.
Kazunori Yamauchi, president of Polyphony Digital Inc. and developer of the Gran Turismo series, said having Michelin come on board as an official tire supplier and technical partner "helps us continue our vision of bridging the gap between virtual and real racing. The partnership also further highlights these events as the future of motorsports.
"The FIA Certified Gran Turismo Championships is founded on a technical base established through 25 years of automotive physics simulation within Gran Turismo, and the unique automotive culture it has achieved over the years," he added.
Among specifics of the multi-year agreement:
• There will be a Michelin section on the Gran Turismo Sport "Brand Central" virtual museum, which introduces players to Michelin's deep history in global motorsports, performance and innovation;
• Tire technology by Michelin will be available in the "Tuning" section of Gran Turismo Sport, applicable to the game's established hard, medium and soft formats; and
• There will be trackside branding elements integrated into the game's "scenography" from many of the world's most celebrated motorsports competitions and venues.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
In the real world, Michelin is engaged around the world in a number of racing series, such as FIA World Endurance Championship, FIA World Rally Championship, FIA Formula E and International Motor Sports Association series in the U.S.
Michelin said it will share the knowledge it gleans from its motorsports activities with Sony in the first co-development exchange of its kind, aiming to provide Gran Turismo players with a new dimension of strategy and competition linked to tire selection and performance, drawing ever closer to the pit-level decisions that race teams evaluate on every track.