TOKYO — The sanctioning body for Japan's Super Formula racing series — the nation's top formula-car racing competition — has extended its race tire supply agreement with Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. (YRC) through 2023.
At the same time, Yokohama — which has been Super Formula's designated race tire supplier since 2016 — said it plans to develop racing tires made from sustainable materials, such as silica produced from rice husks, oil from oil palm fruit nuts and orange peels as well as rubber recycled from scrap tires.
Yokohama stressed that its plans to use sustainable materials will not affect racing car performance negatively.
The tire maker's plans are tied to a Super Formula Next50 initiative announced last October 2021 by Japan Race Promotion Inc., the entity that runs the Super Formula series. The SF Next50 project is being promoted with the cooperation of various companies that share the common goal of creating a sustainable motorsports industry by responding to changes in the environment surrounding the automobile and motorsports industries.
YRC said it has been conducting research and development on sustainable materials for several years, including research on technology to produce synthetic rubber from biomass and on recyclable "thermo-reversible" rubber.
Yokohama said it test the developmental tires during testing sessions conducted by JRP before and after each Super Formula race this year, with a goal of having the 2023 control tire design completed by the end of the 2022 season.
Super Formula cars are single-seat, open-wheel racers powered by 2-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engines supplied by Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. All competitors use identical Dallara SF19 chassis running on 13-inch Yokohama Advan racing radials.
There are 12 teams with 21 cars registered for the 10-race 2022 season, which kicks off April 9 at Fuji Raceway and runs through Oct. 30 at Suzuka Circuit.