AKRON—For the most part, Bridgestone Corp. outshone the competition throughout 1998 in international motor racing series. Led by Finland's Mika Hakkinen claiming the 1998 Formula One championship, Bridgestone lay claim to three major international racing championships during 1998—F1, the PPG/Championship Auto Racing Teams series, and the international FIA endurance championship.
1998 also marked marked the end of Goodyear's involvement in F1 racing, as the Akron-based tire maker refocuses its competition resources on North America.
Mr. Hakkinen, driving a Bridgestone-shod McLaren-Mercedes, won eight races—including the championship clincher in Japan—giving the Japanese company a nine to seven edge over Goodyear in wins.
Bridgestone will be the single tire supplier to F1's 11 two-car teams next year, as Goodyear has now bid adieu to the international racing series it dominated over much of the past three decades.
In the major open wheel, single-seat racing series, Bridgestone claimed two of three championships, and recorded double the number of victories, 31-15.
Firestone drivers dominated the Championship Auto Racing Teams series, taking 18 of 19 races throughout the season, and claimed nine of the top 10 spots in the season points race.
Conversely, Goodyear drivers won seven of 11 Indy Racing League events in the U.S.—including the prestigious Indianapolis 500—and took seven of the top 10 spots in the season tally.
Bridgestone also chalked up an overwhelming record in the international GT endurance championship, as the Bridgestone-equipped Mercedes-Benz team won all 10 races.
Group Michelin and Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. won shares of bragging rights for endurance racing, however. Michelin equipped the winning Porsche team at the prestigious 24 hours of Le Mans, France, race in June, and Yokohama supported the Momo Ferrari team at the 24 hours of Daytona and 12 hours of Sebring events in Florida.
Michelin was the tire supplier to world rally champion Tommi Makkinen—who claimed his third consecutive title driving for Mitsubishi—and outfitted the winners of nine of 11 world rally championship events.
Michelin also was the tire supplier to the winners of the national touring car championships in France, Great Britain, Germany and Italy.