Hankook. I know you have seen the advertisements. You've probably even seen the commercials. Damn, I even saw the name on the rotation billboard at an NBA game. But if there is one thing that people don't know after all the ads is that Hankook tires is one of the top four tire manufactures in the world. The Korean based company caters to heavy duty utility vehicles to manufacture spec tires. They have even cornered the market when it comes to factory spare tires. Their tires are found all over the world but for the first time they took the time to unveil their lineup of off-road to street-performance rubber. The two things I previously knew about the company was that they make tires and their name is pronounced Hankook, and not Hankock.
The plan of the day was to see what Hankook Tires has to offer from their lineup of off-road and on-road tires. One of the highlights of the day was to test out just how well the Hankook Ventus Z211 race tires perform on a Spec Miata class racecar. To start with these tire are currently a spec tire for the Mazda Miata series, meaning all racers are to run on this HK tire. On the track the tires gave life to the Miata with their high grip and stiff sidewalls. Most impressive was how much they helped the vehicle out on the high-speed turns, which made it an awesome high performance tire. The best part of this experience was the fact that the tire was an off-the-shelf-item, meaning any one with a couple of hundred bucks could own these. Sizes are limited now but Hankook is thinking about offering the tire in a variety of sizes in the future.
While the Ventus race tires tore up the track the Venus Sport K104s are designed for a high-performance street application. Track testing was to be compared in three equivalent vehicles each with a different manufacturer's tire. The comparison was to see how well each car performed and the end result was Hankook being the overall winner. Not only did the tire out perform the rivals, it also beat the competitor in price for performance.
I came to the event only knowing how to say Hankook and I left with a new-found respect for one of the largest tire companies in the world. HK's team of tire gurus' main objective for this event was to let the media know that they are ready to take on the aftermarket import world by storm. Judging by my first hand experience of testing the Ventus line of performance tires they don't have much left to do for import domination. For more info on the Ventus line of performance tires visit their website.