Yokohama Pledges to Support Sporting 2009
Yokohama has told Tyres & Accessories that it intends to continue to support motorsport in 2009 following its positive experiences in 2008. Yokohama Motorsport manager Mark Evans, looking back on the previous year’s action, said, “2008 was an exceptional season for Yokohama in motorsport, particularly in the UK.” The manufacturer’s ADVAN brand provides the control tyre for the FIA World Touring Car Championship, while the company boasts involvement in rallying (both covered in the November editions of Tyres & Accessories).
Continuing, Evans was keen to stress the victories won on Yokohama rubber, perhaps indicating the competitive nature of motorsport as key to its survival: “We achieved some excellent success with our partners, including Nick Crowe on the Isle of Man and Tristan Pye, Paul MacKinnon and Tom Cave in rallying. I think this and the success we had with Aston Martin at the Nürburgring 24 Hours shows that Yokohama has winning products across all forms of motorsport and at every level.”
It is impossible to ignore the effect of the global economy on motorsport, but rather than see it as a reason for giving up, Yokohama has decided to adopt a strategy of doing all it can to ensure that grass level motorsport has the best chance to flourish in the UK. Evans stated, “Like all businesses, we are aware of the economic downturn and have made a policy decision to continue to support motorsport, particularly in the UK, throughout 2009. We will be working very closely with the series organisers and the motorsport industry as a whole to do what we can to ensure that some of the best race series in the world continue to prosper in these difficult times.
“We appreciate that there are tough times ahead for motorsport in general and we have already seen the effect in areas such as Formula One and the World Rally Championship. By working with and listening to the motorsport industry, we will do whatever we can to keep people racing, and winning, on Yokohama tyres.”
Perhaps the 2008 season has warmed up the company’s competitive blood. The FIA World Touring Car Championship, using Yokohama ADVAN control tyres, saw the fight for the drivers’ title going down to the wire at the last round. The factory Aston Martin team won its class at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, one of the calendar’s most arduous events, on Yokohama rubber. The brand claimed overall honours in the sidecar class of the Isle of Man TT Races.
In rallying, Paul MacKinnon won the iconic Isle of Mull rally outright on Yokohama tyres. The marque made advances with its gravel tyre, witnessing Tristan Pye winning the Production Cup of the BTRDA rally series using the latest version of the company’s forest tyre, developed in 2007 in the FIA World Rally Championship by Team ADVAN driver, Fumio Nutahara.
Yokohama’s season was completed with the youngest driver ever to compete on the UK round of the WRC, Tom Cave, using Yokohama tyres to great effect on the WRC season-closer, Wales Rally GB, finishing 30th overall and winning his class by almost 15 minutes. One week later, some of the greatest drivers in the world also sampled Yokohama’s performance, as they drove the Rage Motorsport RX150 buggies, fitted with Yokohama tyres as standard, at the Race of Champions at Wembley.
In 2009 Yokohama will be encouraging British motorsport, by continuing its support of race series in the UK that use Yokohama as control tyres. These will include series that Yokohama already has a long-term relationship with, including several of the 750 Motor Club’s classes, Sports 2000 and Lotus On-Track.
In addition to the Lotus On Track series, Yokohama will also support the Lotus Cup Europe, featuring the Exige 260 model, which leaves the factory fitted with Yokohama tyres. The purpose-built track day car is road legal but with the addition of a roll cage for safety, will be eligible for the new race series, which takes in circuits in the UK and around Europe.