LONG BEACH, Calif. (March 5, 2014) — All four major tire partners — and a new supplier — are returning for Formula Drift Holdings L.L.C.'s 2014 season.
Promoters announced the series has added Giti Tire USA Ltd. and its GT Radial brand as a new tire supplier. Giti joins returning brands Achilles, Falken, Hankook and Nitto along with returning tire suppliers American Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. Ltd., Maxxis International-USA and Yokohama Tire Corp.
Formula Drift, which is entering its 11th season, said it "continues to be the proving grounds for tire manufacturers. The extreme conditions created through competitive drifting pushes the limits of the drivers, cars and the tires creating the ultimate performance test for the brands."
The main difference between the "major tire partner" and "tire supplier," according to a Formula Drift spokesman, is the level of sponsorship with the series. Major tire partners "have a larger activation imprint on-site, more branding, etc.," he said.
Of the series' returning tire partners, Falken Tire Corp. is in its 11th season; Nitto Tire U.S.A. Inc., in its 9th season; Hankook Tire America Corp., the current tire manufacturer champion, in its eighth season; Kenda in its fifth season; and Achilles Motorsports L.L.C. (affililated with Indonesia's P.T. Multistrada Arah Sarana Tbk.) and its Achilles flag brand, Maxxis and Yokohama, all in their third seasons.
Diamond Bar, Calif.-based Nexen Tire America Inc., which competed last year, is not listed among tire companies participating this year. A company spokesman said Nexen "withdrew our sponsorship form Formula Drift this year. No other motor sports (activities are) planned in the U.S. this year."
Jim Liaw, president and co-founder of Long Beach-based Formula Drift, said it is "proud to have all four major tire partners and three tire suppliers return to the series and happy to welcome GT Radial for the 2014 season.
"Tires are such an integral part of drifting and the demands that the sport places on the product is high. These are off-the-shelf products for the everyday consumer and thus have immediate real world application."
Giti will enter the series with its Champiro SX2 radials, "developed for driving enthusiasts who want higher levels of traction, response and driving control in dry and wet conditions." Driving for the tire marketer will be back-to-back feeder series champion Tyler Wolfson in a Mazda RX-7.
The San Diego driver will compete in the full seven event calendar of the Formula Drift Pro Championship, as well as the four event calendar of the Formula Drift Pro2 Series.
Mr. Wolfson's team's goal is to be rookie of the year in the PRO championship category and win overall in Pro2.
"As the premier North American professional drifting competition, with a very large and growing fan base, Formula Drift is an ideal platform for demonstrating the technology and performance of the GT Radial brand to North American drivers," said Armand Allaire, vice president of marketing for Giti Tire USA, in a Formula Drift press release.
Giti Tire USA is the Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.-based subsidiary of China's Giti Tire Pte. Ltd.
Hankook will defend its tire supplier championship this year by backing five drivers/teams: Chris Forsberg in the CFR Champion Nissan 370Z; Fredric Aasbo, Papadakis Racing Speed Hunters Scion tC; Tyler McQuarrie, Mobil1 GoPro Chevrolet Camaro; Ken Gushi, Greddy Performance Scion FR-S; and Conrad Grunewald, CGR Megan Racing Chevrolet Camaro. All competitors will use Hankook's Ventus R-S3 Extreme Performance Summer tire.
The 2014 Formula Drift season's first round will take place on the streets of Long Beach on April 4-5.
More information about the series is on its website.