AKRON — The interaction between the tire industry and the world's motorsport community has undergone a seismic shift in the past few years that will result in nearly all of the major racing series committing to a single tire supplier situation.
The alignment that has emerged at the start of 2020 leaves precious few racing series with open competition. Most prominent among the venues in North America with open competition are drifting and off-road racing.
In the drifting arena, five tire brands — Atturo, Giti, Falken, Nexen and Nitto — are gearing up for a spirited year of head-to-head action in the 2020 Formula Drift season in the U.S., while in off-road, as many as six brands — BFGoodrich, Falken, General Tire, Maxxis, Mickey Thompson and Toyo — are set for another year of short-course fender-to-fender competition in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series.
- This article appears in the Jan. 20 print edition of Tire Business.
The last couple of major international series with open competition — the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and World Rally Championship (WRC) — are moving to single-supplier relationships in 2021, moves that involve and affect Goodyear, Group Michelin and Pirelli Tyre S.p.A.
Easily the biggest swing is Goodyear's return to the international road-racing scene after a nearly two-decade hiatus, with the Akron-based tire company securing the tire supply contracts with three predominantly European endurance and touring car series.
Goodyear disclosed its motorsports decision last June, stating at that time that sports-car racing provides a "strong platform" for demonstrating tire technologies on a wide range of different prototype and GT cars as well as being an "ideal platform" for the company to promote the launch of its Eagle F1 SuperSport RS ultra-ultra-high-performance (UUHP) tire line.
Considering the racing heritage Goodyear has built over the past century, it is only natural that the company should seek to use that brand equity to promote its re-emergence as a supplier of UHP and UUHP tires to the top echelon of car makers, Motorsport Director Ben Crawley told Tire Business recently.