Yokohama highlights motorsport diversity in July
Yokohama’s commitment to motorsport in its many different forms has been illustrated in a busy July schedule that included touring cars, rallying and endurance racing. The brand is the official supplier to the FIA World Touring Car Championship, which visited Donington on 16-17 July for its UK leg. Yokohama supplied drivers at the recent FIA European Touring Car Cup in Salzburg, Austria, on 23-24 July, where Fabrizio Giovanardi clinched the title with a victory and a second-place finish in the Austrian rain.
The 45-year old said: “I’ve never driven Yokohama tyres in the wet before, but I was pleasantly surprised with the results. Even though the tyres weren’t particularly large they had good grip, and I didn’t have any problems out on the circuit.” Praise for the company’s touring car supply was echoed by WTCC Drivers’ standings leader Rob Huff of Chevrolet, who singled out the company’s engineers: “The Yokohama engineers are great. They’re always on hand to answer any questions the team and I may have after practice sessions.”
Four Yokohama-equipped cars competed in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge event at Açores, Portugal on 14-16 July 2011, two of which were piloted by experienced rally drivers Fumio Nutahara and Toshi Arai. While Arai’s Subaru Impreza STI suffered an electrical failure on day two of the gravel rally, forcing retirement, Nutahara claimed an 11th-place finish overall which saw him top the R4 group. “It was quite a difficult rally with the weather and with some small problems,” said Arai. “I was very happy with the tyres though, and at my next event in Hungary I will try even harder.”
On the same weekend Yokohama was the official tyre supplier to the service area at the Midnattssolsrallyt in Sweden, roughly translated as “Midnight Sun rally”. The annual three-day event for historic cars included Yokohama-supplied challengers the Swedish Porsche Team, with entries from inaugural World Rally Championship winner Björn Waldegård and Stig Blomqvist. The pair finished third and fourth respectively.
Several of the entrants were using Yokohama tyres for the first time. Business entrepreneur turned rally driver Steve Perez switched to the Advan A035 for the last two days of the rally. “We had lots of interest in YOKOHAMA tyres at the Midnattssolsrallyt,” explained Yokohama technical consultant Ian Beveridge. “We met with many new customers from Norway, Sweden and the UK, and the feedback we received was very positive.”
This coming weekend Yokohama will also supply tyres for the Mercedes-Benz SLS GT3 of team Black Falcon, which is competing in the 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium. The outfit is continuing a deep partnership with Yokohama that has included involvement in the 24 Hours Nürburgring and the VLN Langstreckenmeisterschaft Nürburgring series.