TOKYO — The organizers of the Super Taikyu sports-car endurance racing series in Japan have secured Bridgestone Corp. as the series' designated race tire supplier after Hankook Tire & Technology Co. Ltd. was forced to bow out of that role in the wake of the fire that idled its Daejeon, South Korea, tire plant.
The supply deal with Bridgestone starts immediately and also will include the 2024 season, the Super Taikyu series' organizers said.
Due to the short time frame required to negotiate a deal — the fire at the Daejeon plant broke out March 12 — competitors will use Hankook tires on hand for the first race or two before the Bridgestone supply starts.
Shortly after news of the fire broke, Hankook Tire informed the series' organizers that it would take at least a year and a half before it could fulfill its supply agreement. Hankook had been the series' race tire supplier for the past two seasons.
In existence since 1991, Super Taikyu is an endurance racing series based on commercially available mass-market vehicles. The series comprises nine classes, including an ST-Q class that provides a platform for cars alternative fuels, such as hydrogen, biofuels and carbon-neutral fuels.
The 2023 season comprises nine races over seven race weekends, ranging from three hours to 24 hours in length. There are 62 teams entered.
Hankook has not commented on the Daejeon factory fire's impact on other racing series it's supplying. Hankook in the past couple of years has ramped up its motorsports activities, most prominently taking over the supply contract for the internationally active FIA Formula E World Championship for electric-powered single-seat open-wheel racers.
Hankook is now active in more than 50 motorsports championships around the world, including:
- Prototype Sprint Series Association (North America);
- Master Class of Racing;
- Formula 3 Americas;
- Formula 4 United States Championships Powered by Honda;
- Blue Marble Radical Cup North America;
- Lucky Dog Racing League.
- FIA European Rally Championship;
- Junior European Rally Championship;
- NXT Gen Cup (Europe).