After an incredible 2011 Formula Drift season that included two first place wins and six podium finishes total, Hankook Tire today announced its motorsports plans for 2012. The company’s efforts and sponsorship involvement will focus on continued participation in Formula Drift, Global Time Attack and the Pikes Peak Hill Climb as well as a return to off-road racing and the 25 Hours of Thunderhill race.
Hankook’s motorsports strategy currently focuses on grassroots events and racing series that are growing in popularity in the United States such as Formula Drift, Time Attack and SCCA sanctioned events. These activities will ultimately provide Hankook the knowledge and experience necessary to participate in high-level racing in the United States, much like Hankook has done globally with its participation in the DTM international touring car series and European Le Mans series.
“Hankook’s involvement in professional motorsports allows us to not only demonstrate to competitors and enthusiasts alike the class leading performance our tires offer but also continue to grow our brand in the U.S. market,” said Paul Jho, Hankook Tire America Corp. Motorsports Marketing Manager. “The exceptional quality of our tires coupled with technologically advanced products such as the Ventus RS-3, Ventus Z214, Ventus TD and Dynapro MT further demonstrate our ongoing commitment to meeting the demands of racers, enthusiasts and everyday drivers.”
In 2012 Hankook will once again be an official sponsor of the Formula Drift Racing Series and also sponsor five Formula Drift drivers including the 2011 season’s overall 3rd place finisher Chris Forsberg and the Chris Forsberg Racing Nissan 370Z, Rhys Millen and the Rhys Millen Racing Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Conrad Grunewald and the Conrad Grunewald Racing Chevrolet Camaro, Fredric Aasbo and the Papadakis Racing Scion TC, and Ken Gushi in the new for 2012 Scion Racing FR-S.
All of Hankook’s Formula Drift drivers will compete on Hankook’s Ventus R-S3 Extreme Performance tires, one of the premier tires in Formula Drift competition. The Ventus RS-3 was developed using the same design, technology and compound used to build Hankook’s Ventus Z214 racing tire.
Hankook will also sponsor Rhys Millen Racing and support driver Rhys Millen in the 2012 Pikes Peak Hill Climb. At the 2011 Pikes Peak Hill Climb, Millen scored a second place finish in the race’s Unlimited Class. This year, Millen will campaign his Hankook tire-equipped Hyundai Genesis Coupe in the Time Attack Two-Wheel-Drive Class and try to break the 2011 record setting run posted by his father, Rod Millen.
As part of Hankook’s global Time Attack efforts, the company will sponsor four teams for the 2012 season: Cobb Tuning, Wind Speed, GST Motorsports and Berk Technology. Time Attack has significantly increased in popularity, bringing a new audience to tracks around the country and furthering Hankook’s motorsports related presence. The four teams being sponsored will compete exclusively on Hankook racing tires, with Berk Technology running Hankook’s new Ventus TD which was showcased at the 2011 SEMA show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Hankook will also return to off-road racing this year with driver Tracy Rossman and the Rossman Racing Group Ford Pickup. Rossman will compete throughout the season on Hankook’s Dynapro MT off-road tire. The Dynapro MT is a street legal extreme performance off-road tire available to consumers as part of Hankook’s Light Truck / SUV tire lineup
Rounding out its 2012 racing efforts, Hankook will again be involved in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows, California. Tyler McQuarrie, winner of the race for the past three years, will lead Hankook’s efforts in a race-prepped Mazda Miata wearing Hankook’s Ventus Z214 race tires. This endurance race, the longest in the world, draws competitors and enthusiasts from around the country.
Hankook will continue to support motorsports enthusiasts and racers at all levels. For 2012, Hankook will offer amateur and professional racing enthusiasts a contingency program and the chance to earn Hankook’s Ventus R-S3 or Ventus Z214 DOT R Compound tires based on their performance in specific racing circuits in the U.S. Racers will have an opportunity to earn incentives during each individual competition event.
Globally, Hankook will again be the exclusive tire supplier for the 2012 DTM series, one of the most popular top-level racing series in the world. Hankook Tire became the exclusive tire supplier to DTM in 2011, providing racing tires for teams piloting vehicles from premium vehicle manufacturers Mercedes-Benz and Audi. For 2012, premium vehicle manufacturer BMW will enter the series, bringing the total number of vehicle brands participating to three. Additionally, for the 2012 racing season Hankook Tire is the exclusive tire supplier for the Superstars International Series and GT Sprint International Series. Hankook will also participate in the Super GT racing series in Japan and the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. Racing series such as these allow Hankook to strengthen its relationship with global vehicle manufacturers and provides a synergy in the area of original equipment fitment activities.