SIGNAL HILL, Calif. — Kenda Tire USA Inc. has agreed to become an official tire supplier to the Formula Drift Pro Championship for the 2023 and 2024 seasons, joining Federal, Giti Tire, Nexen and Nitto as tire brands so recognized by the race sanctioning body.
Kenda plans to supply its Vezda UHP Max, an ultra-high-performance tire with a 200 UTQG treadwear rating, for use at all eight rounds of the 2023 season.
Kenda's decision to ally with Formula DRIFT comes a few weeks after Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd.'s Falken Tires subsidiary decided to drop its participation in Formula Drift after a 19-year run in that sport.
Kenda said it chose to join Formula Drift because it's an "ideal" environment to showcase the ability of new tires under extreme conditions.
"We're very happy to welcome a new tire partner to Formula Drift for our 20th anniversary season," Formula Drift President Ryan Sage said. "This will be an incredibly important year for us all, and adding an unknown factor such as a new tire supplier can only make the competition more thrilling, especially if Kenda-shod drivers are challenging for podium places."
Brandon Stotsenburg, vice president of automotive for Kenda Tire USA, said, "We want to demonstrate how Kenda's off-the-shelf Vezda UHP MAX tires can perform in the world's most competitive drift series.
"Our motorsports mantra is about demonstrating how Kenda Tire can compete, and win, off-the-shelf, from Podium2Pavement. This is the perfect reason to partner with an iconic series like Formula Drift to vividly demonstrate the quality, performance and technical expertise of our tires."
The company is discussing its options with a number of leading Formula Drift Pro drivers and teams and will reveal the names shortly of those who will compete with Kenda Tire in 2023.
The 2023 Formula Drift season begins April 7-8 the Streets of Long Beach, Calif.
The Vezda UHP Max tire features reinforced sidewalls and enhanced tread stiffness, which together with a new tread compound is designed to offer maximum high-speed cornering grip, Kenda said.
This is Kenda's second motorsports announcement for the 2023 season.
At last year's SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Kenda disclosed it was planning to compete in the World Racing League, a grassroots-style, multi-class racing series focused on endurance events, in partnership Jeff Courtney, a racer and Kenda customer who's become a Kenda "brand ambassador" over the past several years.