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Tyre manufacturers in motorsports: Who does what?

Sponsors of numerous motorsport events, tyre manufacturers have long used these powerful communication channels to boost their reputations. But, which events do they partner? We take a closer look at the tyre manufacturers involved in motorsports.

A sole racing tyre rolling past a packed stand

Copyright © Fotolia / fr.fotolia.com

Emotionally charged and performance-focused, the motorsport world is an ideal setting for tyre brands to enhance their image. Whether for testing their tyres in an innovative environment, or as a means to reach their audiences, tyre manufacturers have a special relationship with the motorsport world.

Michelin, setting the standard

Michelin was quick to identify the marketing opportunities in motorsports. The French tyre giant has been involved at some time or other, in all the major motorsport events, including Formula 1, and has made no secret of its desire to return to the discipline, becoming an official partner of Formula E when it was introduced in 2014.

However, Michelin’s preferred events take place on the brand’s home turf. Popular French competitions such as the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours and the Dakar are closely linked with the Michelin Man, and have done much to boost the brand’s image. Vehicles fitted with Michelin tyres have won multiple trophies during these races, enhancing the brand’s visibility both at home and abroad.

Firestone conquers America

Like Michelin, American tyre manufacturer Firestone initially focused on the local sports market. For several years, the brand established itself as a benchmark in the USA, becoming the long-standing partner of IndyCar and Indianapolis 500. A subsidiary of Bridgestone, which itself has focused on the local Japanese Super GT Championship, Firestone has benefited from the immense popularity of "American Formula 1" races, becoming their exclusive supplier in 2000. This partnership is now legendary for millions of US viewers.

Goodyear and Dunlop laboratories  

Although Firestone was there at the birth of NASCAR, the main US racing event for production cars, it was Goodyear that established itself as the benchmark supplier for the country’s extremely popular stock-car races. Lately, the American tyre manufacturer has come to the fore by installing microchips inside tyres which can geolocate them, and measure their performance during a race. This small revolution in motorsports has since inspired Goodyear’s consumer tyres. 

Goodyear’s UK subsidiary, Dunlop, has been present at Le Mans for many years and the famous Dunlop Bridge can be found on several tracks worldwide. The brand is mainly present in the motorcycle world and is the official sponsor for the Moto2 and Moto3 races.

Formula 1 for Pirelli

For many years, Formula One was the place to see different tyre manufacturers battle it out on the tarmac. Teams chose their preferred tyres, with Michelin, Bridgestone, Goodyear and Pirelli supplying different teams. This changed in 2007, when the decision was made to move to a single supplier.

Under contract since 2011, Pirelli enjoys the tremendous media coverage generated by Formula 1, which attracts more than 450 million viewers each year. At the same time, the Italian tyre giant has become a partner of the GP2 and GP3 championships, the main feeder series for Formula 1. These partnerships are part of the Milan-based tyre manufacturer’s strategy, with speed as its number one communication tool.

Yokohama, Hankook and touring cars

Other brands looking to make a name through motorsport have chosen to specialise in competitions renowned for high performance. Yokohama has opted for touring cars, sponsoring the WTCC and ETCC championships. Same strategy for Hankook, which is the official partner of the German touring car championship (DTM) and its new series: the Audi Sport TT Cup. The Korean tyre manufacturer also sponsors the European Formula 3, a championship for young single-seater drivers. 

An event for every brand

  • Bridgestone : Super GT, FIA World Karting Championship, FIM EWC.
  • Firestone : IndyCar Series.
  • Michelin : The Dakar, Le Mans 24 Hours, Moto GP, Formula-E, WRC, WEC, EWC.
  • BFGoodrich : Off Road, the Dakar Rally, Red Bull Global RallyCross, Pikes Peak.
  • Goodyear : NASCAR, NHRA (Dragster). 
  • Dunlop : Moto2, Moto3, EWC, Moto-cross GP, Nürburgring.
  • Pirelli : Formula 1, GP2, GP3, Blancpain GT Series, WRC, WSBK, MX1, MX2.
  • Yokohama : WTCC, ETCC, Formula 3 Macao GP, Nürburgring.
  • Hankook : DTM, Formula 3 European championship, Audi Sport TT Cup, 24 Series, Pikes Peak. 
  • Kumho : Zandvoort Masters of F3, Nürburgring 24 Hours, French Formula 4 championship.
  • Toyo Tires : D1 Grand Prix, Dakar drivers, professional and amateur drivers. 
  • Cooper Tyres : FIA World Rallycross, David Coulthard, Xavier Foj, Dakar drivers.
  • Falken : Porsche 911 Team, Off Road.

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