You take tyres pretty much take for granted at race meetings - unless you run a team, that is.

Ford's supplier Michelin took no fewer than 6000 rubber hoops to Le Mans this year - wets, dries and everything in between - to supply 33 of the 60 cars entered. And during a stable period in the race, around midnight, I went to visit their estate just outside the circuit, and to meet spokesman Steve Smith.

“We arrive with 6000 tyres and we leave with 6000," he said. "Until we've found 6000 we won't leave. It's because the whole reason we bother to race is so we can take innovations from the track to the road.

"WEC cars run 18-inch wheels," he said, "so they're highly relevant to road cars. It's also why we're not in Formula One. We could make tyres for their 13-inch wheels but we'd learn nothing."

As it is, a compound developed for Michelin's new Cross Climate road tyre was developed directly from racing.

The Michelin race-base is the size of four tennis courts, and they take 100 people to the race. One technician is embedded with each team to advise on rubber options and loads with the tyre centre, and 50 more man a highly mechanised fitting centre that works hammer and tongs all night.

We visited on race night and, because there had been lots of confusion over the wet start to the 2016 race, lots of teams needed different rubber options. Team people with quad bikes and little trailers hovered at the entrance while Michelin's dozens of fitters concentrated on delivering.

Every single tyre is bar-coded, so it's spec and identity is known, and every one contains an RFID chip (Michelin is a bit hazy about this) which probably gives details about how it hadn't been used.

Nobody talks about the cost of tyres: Michelin simply supplies enough (16 sets for a GTE car, 12 for an LMP1) and there's an overal cost for the service.

The company takes every single tyre home at the end, whether, new, barely worn or destroyed, and aims to learn from the performance of every one. And, so they hope, the performance and durability of the road tyres we ride in gets a little better.