Hankook Steps Up Motorsport Involvement
The recent Autosport show saw Korean tyre manufacturer, Hankook, unveil a raft of motorsports plans, as it seeks to become a key player in the UK motorsports arena. Building on last year’s successful rallying programme, Hankook Motorsports has confirmed plans to run a two-car team in the British Rally Championship with former British champion Gwyndaf Evans and rising-star Stuart Jones driving Hankook shod Mitsubishi Lancers. On the racetrack Hankook announced that it is joining forces with the VW Racing Cup.
Hankook will also continue to sponsor the 205 Challenge and adds BMW to its portfolio with support of the RWD Challenge – both series designed for grass roots rallying. Hankook Motorsports manager Mike Patterson said the company, which has its UK headquarters in Daventry, was delighted to be able to support a cross section of series catering for all levels and interests. According to the company, this mirrors the company’s tyre supply operation, which is run through Midlands-based Silverline Motorsport.
“This is one of the most ambitious and varied motorsport programmes ever to have been launched in the UK and we are delighted that the Hankook name is set for a wider audience as we bid for success on the racetrack and rally stages,” said Patterson. “Our presence at Autosport International last year and our involvement with the Hankook 205 Challenge and Wales Rally GB provided Hankook with the perfect foundation for a much greater presence for 2006 and we are delighted to be able to confirm such a high profile mix.”
On the rally front former British Rally Champion Gwyndaf Evans and fast-paced youngster Stuart Jones will contest all six rounds of the British Rally Championship, starting in May with the Carlisle-based Pirelli Rally and culminating with Wales Rally GB in December – also the final round of the World Rally Championship.
“We are making a huge commitment to rallying in the UK and we are delighted to be able to launch our biggest campaign to date and look forward to being part of the premier rally series in the UK,” Patterson commented. “Initial testing with Hankook has illustrated that the tyres will be perfect for the rallies ahead and I can’t wait to get back into the BRC,” added Gwyndaf Evans.
Launched in 2000, the Volkswagen Racing Cup’s innovative regulations put all cars into a single class based on power to weight ratios. Open to any model of racing Volkswagen, the Cup has attracted drivers of the Beetle RSi, Corrado, Vento & Golf VR6, Golf GTI, Scirocco GTI, Polo, Lupo and Bora models. Engine usage has been just as varied, with turbocharged and even turbodiesel power competing alongside the established 4 and 6 cylinder engines. This variety of machinery, representing Volkswagens of all ages makes for colourful and diverse grid line-up.
Return on investment
But motorsport involvement is about more than just the thrill of the chase. Motorsports provides vital data for tyre research. According to company representatives, racing events serve as a test bed for the development of new materials and designs. Hankook’s technicians use the events to obtain valuable data on the properties of various materials and compound components, as tyres are stretched to the limit on the racetrack. At the same time it functions as an image factor and a suitable marketing tool for the Hankook brand. Every win on Hankook tyres equals an image boost and emphasises the company’s performance standards and technical competence.
The Hankook Europe Technical Center in Langenhagen near Hanover has been developing tyres to meet the particular European markets since 1997. Hankook opened its first European branch office in France back in 1996. Today the company also has branch offices in Germany, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. The focus in Europe is on increasing market share in the passenger car, SUV, light truck, truck, minibus and bus segments. Special emphasis is placed on the Original Equipment (OE) supplier business. More and more well-known car manufacturers rely on Hankook’s excellent product quality.