IndyCar teams to Bridgestone: We don’t want to lose “best partner ever”
US publication Tire Review reports IndyCar teams are petitioning Bridgestone Americas to reconsider its position with the race series. Following the tyre maker’s March 4 announcement that its sponsorship and Firestone brand tyre supply contract would not be renewed after 2011, a “near-unanimous” vote is said to have been taken amongst teams to “stick with Firestone – regardless of the price.”
“We all want to keep running with Firestone,” said Conquest Racing owner Eric Bachelart, a one-time Firestone Indy Lights driving champion. “We know those people; we trust their product and we have to save the deal. They are the best partner ever and we can’t afford to lose them so we’re hoping they’ll review their decision.”
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard reportedly called the owner meeting to gain their feedback. “The owners are concerned there isn’t enough time to find a new company to develop a tire so they want to go back and get Firestone,” Bernard told Speed TV. The North American cable broadcaster reports that the per car tyre deal for 2011 was “expected to be in the neighbourhood of US$300,000 but it’s believed Firestone might charge as much as $550,000 to stick around for 2012.” A full IndyCar the season requires about 23,000 tyres.
Al Speyer, executive director of motorsports for Bridgestone Americas, said he was flattered by the owners vote, but told a motorsport publication: “I guess now with the team owners getting more actively involved, I would never say never, but things like this aren’t easy to change. The decision was partly about us taking a different direction.”
“It wasn’t all about the money for us,” he told media sources. At the same time, he told the Indianapolis Star: “Our deadline was December 31 and like the NFL we agreed to extend negotiations several times. But in trying to help each other, in some ways we’ve hurt them. The clock is ticking on the 2012 season and the new car, and if they’re going to have a new tyre supplier they need to move really quickly. Ongoing delay hurts them much more than it hurts us.”