Yokohama’s Road To Success In Motorsport
They say motorsport improves the breed and no-one has demonstrated that more effectively than Yokohama. It’s been involved in motorsport for years and has used the experience it gains on the racetracks and rally stages to produce some of the most technologically advanced road tyres in the world. In fact, so successful have its motorsports programmes been, that manufacturers such as Bentley, Porsche, Lotus, Audi and Brabus have adopted the company’s products as original equipment fitment.
This year, Yokohama, using its ADVAN flagship brand, has provided tyres in some of the most competitive motorsport series around the world.
The most high-profile of these is the FIA World Touring Car Championship, where Yokohama ADVAN is the control tyre for the 2006 championship and, recently announced, also for the 2007 season. Drivers and teams have complimented the company’s efforts and results throughout the season, which have resulted in extremely stable and high-performing tyres for a series which features both front and rear wheel-drive cars from five manufacturers. The series visits ten countries around the world and has experienced smooth and abrasive surfaces, searing temperatures and torrential rain and the ADVAN tyres have coped with everything that was thrown at them. The competition has proved exceptionally close all year and with one round of the championship left, there are nine drivers who can still claim this year’s title, including Brits Andy Priaulx and James Thompson.
Yokohama was also an integral part of Courage Competition’s race season, including its campaign at the greatest motor race in the world, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Both of the team’s LMP1 (Le Mans Prototype) cars were well on the pace throughout both of the qualifying sessions, one in torrential rain and one in high temperatures, as well as running exceptionally strongly during the race. Unfortunately, both cars retired from the event due to mechanical problems but the team and drivers alike praised Yokohama for its tyres and how closely the company worked with the team to create the ideal tyre for the conditions. The team also competed in the 2006 Le Mans Series, a five-round championship of 1000km races around Europe, again using ADVAN tyres as it did at La Sarthe, finishing with both its cars in the top ten.
Another endurance classic where Yokohama was part of the recipe for success was at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, held the same weekend as the Le Mans event. The Aston Martin works team used ADVAN tyres to great effect on what was basically a road car, modified primarily for safety. The car was built at Aston Martin’s HQ by a team of employees and driven by, among others, Dr. Ulrich Bez, head of Aston Martin. The team finished second in its class, another testament to the performance, durability and reliability of the Japanese tyres.
But it’s not just on the race track where Yokohama has achieved success this year. In the FIA Production car World Rally Championship, for Group N or showroom class cars, Fumio Nutahara is currently second in the championship, having secured three category wins in his ADVAN-equipped and supported Mitsubishi Lancer EvoIX. Nutahara has topped the tables on both tarmac, on the infamous Rallye Monte Carlo and gravel, on his and the company’s home ground in Japan and on the rough gravel stages of Cyprus. Thanks to the system where drivers nominate six events to compete in, Nutahara has two more scoring opportunities left, as opposed to series leader Nasser Al-Attiyah, who has just one.
Sticking with rallying, Zimbabwean Conrad Rautenbach is chasing the runners-up spot in the British Rally Championship in an ADVAN-shod Subaru Impreza. Rautenbach has had an incredible season, competing in the African Championship, the FIA Junior World Rally Championship and the British Rally Championship and is beginning to make a name as one of the rising stars of international rallying.
On a more domestic scale, Yokohamas are used as control tyres for no fewer than 32 race series in the UK, including race, rally and rallycross. The 750 Motor Club uses the brand for a brace of its series’ while Yokohama also celebrated its 13th winning year in a row on the Isle of Man in the sidecar class of the world-famous TT races.
Success breeds success and Yokohama views the choice of its tyres by some of the world’s greatest car manufacturers as original equipment as a fitting testament to the quality of its tyres on the world’s motorsport stage.