It has been nearly two years since the Goodyear brand’s reintroduction to motorsport in Europe, and it is fair to say that operating in a pandemic was not part of the plan when this brand strategy was set out. Tyres & Accessories spoke to Ben Crawley, Goodyear motorsport director EMEA, about his experiences of the 2020 season. Goodyear re-entered European motorsport almost two years ago. While the brand on a global level has “never really been out of motorsport,” bearing in mind its six continuous decades of NASCAR in the USA, Crawley tells T&A that the thinking behind Goodyear’s reentry in more global series “fits into a wider brand rejuvenation” strategy. “We know we have this fantastic legacy and history in racing, and we want to be able to use that to reengage and provide some excitement for the brand and how we communicate the brand with consumers.” The motorsport strategy also coincided with Goodyear’s introduction of ultra-ultra-high performance (UUHP) Eagle F1 Supersport tyres, and “the natural synergies that come with high performance tyres for the road and racing.” Beyond the new product range, the “brand rejuvenation strategy includes the Blimp, racing, and broader advertising and marketing partnerships,” Crawley adds. Subscribers can view the video of this interview in the full version of this article.
Pirelli supplied its new range of GT tyres to the 2020 Spa 24 Hours, the manufacturer’s “biggest event of the year.” In total Pirelli took 13,000 tyres to the Belgian circuit in a fleet of 34 trucks, with more than 65 tyre fitters working round the clock, underlining the tyre manufacturer’s long-standing commitment to GT racing. The rescheduled event produced a thrilling competition, with multiple changes of weather and lead. The winner was only decided in the closing minutes.
All four Giti Tire Motorsport cars achieved top three finishes in their classes at the Nürburgring 24-Hour. Terrible overnight weather at the Eifel circuit saw the race suspended for nine hours, and only 70 of the 97-car grid make it to the finish. Giti said that tyre management proved decisive in helping teams overcome challenging conditions. The Giti Tire Motorsport by WS Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 finished first in the SP8 class, while the Volkswagen Golf VII GTI Clubsport came in third in the VT2 class. In the SP3T class the trailblazing #gitiracing all-female racing team finished third in their Volkswagen Golf VII GTI TCR, overcoming a race crash and garage repairs to finish.
Tyre brand Falken’s twin Porsche 911 GT3 Rs finished in 10th and 11th place at the 48th ADAC Total 24h-Race 2020. The Eifel weather proved challenging for everyone with constantly changing conditions over the race’s 24 hours. Falken said the finish demonstrated the reliability of its performance tyres. Despite conditions causing many cars to come off the track, Falken brought both Porsches home: 10th place for the #44 with Klaus Bachler, Sven Müller, Peter Dumbreck and Martin Ragginger at the wheel and11th place for the #33 with the double starters Klaus Bachler and Sven Müller alongside Christian Engelhart and Dirk Werner.
The Nürburgring 24 Hours is one of the last open tyre competitions in recent years. For Falken, it represents an opportunity to compete on track against top global premium brands, like Michelin, Goodyear and Yokohama. In the last decade Falken road tyre technology it has narrowed the performance gap, evidenced by improved results in third party tyre tests.
Goodyear’s return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans was marked by two podium finishes and a flyover by the Goodyear Blimp during the race. British squad JOTA finished second in the LMP2 class, while French outfit Panis Racing crossed the line in third. LMP2 is the only category at Le Mans with open tyre competition and Goodyear supplied five of the 24 cars entered. The manufacturer says its two podium finishers are testament to the performance and durability of its tyres.
Hankook’s Ventus Race tyre is in action at three major series this weekend. The tyre follows up DTM, Formula Renault Eurocup, and 24H Series powered by Hankook action with events at the Nürburgring and the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours. Saturday’s race at the Nürburgring marks the DTM’s halfway point, with Sunday’s second race getting the second half immediately underway. The series lines up on the Grand Prix circuit for the first time for 19 years, including 17 corners and big changes in elevation. Hankook says the resulting compressions place great strain on the construction of the Ventus Race, as do the solid kerbs, which are taken at great speed.
Goodyear is looking forward to recommencing the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps. The tyre manufacturer’s partner teams, Jota Sport and Jackie Chan DC Racing are currently second and third in the LMP2 standings. The former has finished on the podium in the last four rounds, while Jota took a memorable win at Shanghai in November. They will be joined by an additional Goodyear-shod car from Algarve Pro Racing. The Portuguese team usually competes in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) but will step up to the world stage this weekend.
Max Kruse Racing’s Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR scored a class win in the NLS endurance series at the Nürburgring this weekend. The team was competing on Falken Azenis race tyres for the first time. The SP3T pole position and class winner was one of six cars including a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup MR (997), VW Sciroccos, Golfs and Cupra switching to the tyre manufacturer as Falken expands its motorsport customer programme.
The ADAC TOTAL 24h of the Nürburgring has been rescheduled for September, leaving a cloud-shaped hole in Falken Motorport’s schedule. The tyre brand’s team is followed by an enthusiastic fan base, though, and Falken has found a way to engage them without the totemic event of its motorsport season.
Giti Tire Motorsport’s all-female racing team took to the grid of the second Digital Nürburgring Endurance Series meeting on 4 April. Professional WS Racing drivers Carrie Schreiner and Celia Martin got behind the gaming wheel of a virtual Giti liveried Audi RS3 LMS TCR for the three hour endurance race and finished 10th in the TCR Class.
Hankook Tire has become a sponsor of the Nürburgring Endurance Series, the race event at the renown German circuit that previously went by the name VLN Endurance Championship and billed as the largest motorsport championship in the world. The tyre maker hopes this new tie-up will be the start of a “long term partnership” with the retitled, open tyre supply motorsport series.
Falken will run a pair of the latest specification GT3 Porsche 911 GT3 R cars in both the Nürburgring Endurance Series (formerly known as the VLN) and the Nürburgring 24h race in 2020. The Falken Motorsports race team, run by Schnabl Engineering for the tenth consecutive year, has ordered a new 991.2 chassis to run alongside its 2019 Porsche. Both cars will be identical in specification.
Giti Tire’s “busiest year-to-date in European motorsport” was capped by two victories by Giti and GT Radial sponsored partners. The all-female racing team, ‘Girls Only – Ready to Rock the Green Hell’, recorded their first ever class win in the ninth and last race of the VLN Langstreckenmeisterschaft in their VW Golf VII GTI TCR. Meanwhile Benjamin Boulbes became a six-time French Drift Championship winner on GT Radial tyres.