Bumper year for Cooper, Avon on two wheels and four
Cooper Tire Europe views 2017 as a “bumper year” for it in the world of motorsport, with growth in the Cooper brand’s global involvement in rallycross, particularly from a feeder series perspective, and Avon Tyres’ recent support of six-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy with a 60-Second Donut Challenge in a Caterham Seven.
As official tyre supplier to the FIA World Rallycross Championship for the past four seasons, this year Cooper also took title sponsorship of the 2017 World RX of Hockenheim and became a presenting sponsor to the RX2 International Series. Combined with its involvement in European Rallycross, Cooper’s position in rallycross across continents is evident, as is its commitment to the rallycross stars of tomorrow through RX2, the official feeder series to World RX.
World RX came to Africa for the first time ever this year, with large crowds attending the final event of the season in Cape Town last month. The 2017 victors of both the World RX and RX2 championships had already been crowned ahead of the finale at the Killarney International Raceway, however Sweden’s Johan Kristoffersson and Frenchman Cyril Raymond were nevertheless determined to demonstrate their worthiness as champions to the new South African fans by respectively winning the final rounds of World RX and RX2.
Former World RX Champion and EKS driver Mattias Ekstrom finished third on the World RX podium and was thus confirmed as runner-up in the 2017 championship standings after a season-long battle with Petter Solberg. In the final round of the RX2 International Series presented by Cooper Tires, Raymond rounded off a near-perfect season by taking his sixth win in the highly competitive seven-event feeder series. Great Britain’s Dan Rooke had a troubled final when he rolled his car on lap two, causing the race to be red-flagged. Rooke still, however, secured second in the 2017 RX2 driver standings.
“Witnessing it first-hand out in Cape Town, this year’s World RX season finale has been the best yet, since the championship’s inception four years ago,” comments Sarah McRoberts, marketing communications manager at Cooper Tire Europe. “Cooper Tires is continuingly proud to be the sole tyre supplier to both World RX and RX2 – congratulations to this year’s champions from all of us in Melksham.”
Foj chooses Discoverer S/TMaxx POR for 2018
Sticking with its ‘from the rough to the smooth’ brand philosophy, Cooper has been a long-term supporter of 27-time Dakar Rally entrant, Xavier Foj, one of only six Dakar competitors to be honoured during their career with Dakar Legend status.
During his Dakar Rally career, Foj has secured two class victories, nine podium finishes and has an impressive run of 13 consecutive Dakar finishes to his name. Foj revels in the challenge of the Dakar, and especially in the T2 category which is a cross-country class for production vehicles. In the 2017 edition of the Dakar, Foj competed in a Toyota Land Cruiser 150 completing the gruelling endurance event on Cooper Discoverer STT Pro tyres. For 2018, Foj will be putting the newly developed and launched Discoverer S/TMaxx POR to the test.
From a four-wheel perspective, Avon Tyres Motorsport is renowned for its involvement in the highly-competitive Caterham championships held in the UK. The Avon-supported Caterham championships feature healthy grid sizes and fantastically close racing. Avon remained the title sponsor this year of the Roadsport Championship, which is for drivers fresh from the Caterham Academy starter series.
Handling comes courtesy of the Avon ZZR tyre in the Avon Tyres Caterham Seven 420R Championship, for which the Melksham-based tyre manufacturer reclaimed its title sponsorship in 2017. Avon’s ZZS tyre has been developed specifically for Caterham racing, with the ZZS used in the rest of the Caterham championship ladder, including the 270R, 310R, and Supersport Championship.
In addition, Avon Tyres joined Caterham in celebrating 60 years of the Seven this year, as Sir Chris Hoy took on a ’60-Second Donut Challenge’ at Donington Park. Olympic legend Sir Chris is no stranger to record-breaking achievements on two wheels, but now the Scot can lay claim to his first record on four wheels. Sat inside Caterham’s most powerful model, the Seven 620R, Sir Chris completed 19 consecutive donuts in the time allocation, on Avon’s ZZS tyres.
The beastly 620R was the chosen Seven for the record attempt, as its supercharged 2.0 litre Ford Duratec engine and limited slip differential made the perfect combination for successive spins. Contributing to the success of the record was the set of ultra-high-performance Avon ZZS tyres that were bolted to the raucous 620R. The ZZS rubber, while entirely road legal, is more often found being used on the racetrack. It offers strong grip in wet and dry conditions, and the full racing tread compound used in the ZZS provided an ideal fusion of performance and durability for Sir Chris’s donut attempt.
Avon Tyres Motorsport also supplies Group C Racing with Avon slick and wet race tyres, with the Group C championship catering for iconic sports cars from the ‘80s and ‘90s. This is on top of Avon’s involvement in Classic Endurance Racing, which showcases cars from the golden age of endurance racing, 1966 – 1979. At grass roots level, Avon supports the MSA British Hillclimb Championship and has done so since 2012.
Isle of Man TT success
In motorcycle racing, this year Avon Tyres dominated the podium in both of the sidecar races at the world-famous Isle of Man TT, with all of the podium places taken by Avon-shod teams. Avon also secured a podium sweep in the Senior class at the Classic TT, with Josh Brookes on a Paton, Jamie Coward on a Manx Norton and William Dunlop on his Honda making it an Avon 1-2-3. In the four-stroke Lightweight class, Peter Boast won on his Kawasaki GPZ600R, with Alex Sinclair making it a 1-2 for Avon’s race tyres on his Louigi Moto Ducati. In the two-stroke class, Stuart Hall finished top privateer on a Yamaha TZ250 shod with Avon slicks.