NEU-ISENBURG, Germany — Hankook Tire & Technology Co. Ltd. is stepping up its presence in the European racing arena, adding three championships to its growing portfolio of motorsport partnerships.
The new relationships are with the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) and Junior European Rally Championship and the NXT Gen Cup, an electric-powered series in Sweden.
In the ERC, Hankook will compete with three other tire suppliers — Michelin Group, MRF Ltd. and Pirelli Tyre — in this open-competition championship, which has eight race weekends on the calendar for 2023, starting March 11-12 in Portugal and wrapping up Oct. 7-8 in Hungary.
There are 36 teams registered to compete in the series this year. Hankook has not yet disclosed how many teams it expects to compete on its tires.
Rally racing features competition-prepped street cars running on open roads and streets. Competitors race one at a time, with overall time determining the winner.
ERC Championship Manager Iain Campbell said Hankook's decision "reinforces the high regard that our championship is held in globally. Hankook is a renowned producer of rally tires and it is absolutely fantastic that we can showcase their range in Europe's premier rally series."
The ERC is made up of three main categories: ERC, for Rally2 cars with open tire competition; ERC3 for 4-wheel-drive Rally3 cars and Michelin spec tires; and ERC4 for front-wheel-drive Rally4 and Rally5 cars and Pirelli tires.
In addition, the Junior ERC for drivers up to age 27 in Rally4 or Rally5 cars using Hankook tires is under the ERC umbrella. Hankook replaces Pirelli as the designated competition tire for the Junior ERC.
Pirelli is the designated race tire supplier for the World Rally Championship (WRC). Its contract with the Federation International de l'Automobile covering the WRC initially included supplying all the associated European rally championships.
The FIA ERC is marking its 70th year as a rally championship. The FIA Junior ERC was launched in 2014 as a platform for talented young drivers who can gain valuable experience toward furthering their careers.
The Junior ERC will compete in six rounds, starting May 20-21 in Poland and concluding Oct. 7-8 in Hungary. Hankook will supply its semi-slick Ventus Z215 and Dynapro R211 tires for this championship.
"With this new cooperation, we are consistently continuing our approach of supporting youth in all areas of motorsport," Manfred Sandbichler, Hankook motorsport director Europe, said, noting that FIA Junior ERC offers young drivers the "unique opportunity to prove themselves at the highest level and in professional conditions."