From Korea’s first Racing Tyre, to Official Racing Tyre Supplier - Hankook's 33 Years in RacingInsights
From the searing asphalt temperatures, to dealing with immense frictional forces that blisters and deforms its very shape, the physical punishment that a tyre goes through each and every lap are tremendous. That is not taking into mention the overbearing weight of expectations that such tyres should perform flawlessly and expectedly for as many laps as it can cover.
Being the only components on a race car that is able to transfer the power of the engine and steering input of the driver, the failure to perform could result in a driver being off the pace by seconds, or worse, put the driver into a life-threatening accident. As high as the stakes are in the world of motorsports, it is without a doubt the ultimate testing ground for any tyre company who wants to show what their products are capable of.
For Hankook Tire, their involvement in motorsports wasn’t a recent affair. In fact the company took its first bold step into the motorsports arena in 1992 with the Z2000, the first racing tyre from Korea. It was in 2000, when the Hankook name began appearing on the international stage with participation in Rally events in Spain and the United Kingdom, and Formula 3 races in Germany. With confidence in the brand growing in motorsports circles, Hankook Tire eventually became the official tyre supplier for the Formula 3 series in Italy in 2002 and the Ford Focus Rally Cup in 2003.
2005 served as a watershed moment for the brand’s motorsports activities as it marks the beginning of their active participation in two of the world’s most renowned racing series. The first was the VLN series of the 24-Hour Nürburgring in Germany, one of the world’s most prestigious 24-hours endurance races. With the other being the Super GT series of Japan, considered to be one of the world’s top three grand touring motorsports events.
Their venture into endurance racing and Super GT brought laurels unto the Hankook brand, with the Hankook-Farnbacher team taking several podium positions in the Le Mans Series between 2009 and 2011, finishing first in its class (and second overall) at the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans, and taking second place at the 2011 24-Hour Nürburgring endurance race. Over in Japan the Hankook-KTR Team was able to dominate the second race of the 2009 season of the Super GT in Suzuka, and take first and second place at the Shizuoka and Suzuka rounds of the 2011 Super GT season respectively.
In 2009 Hankook Tire became the official tyre supplier of the All-Japan Formula 3 series, the only event in Asia that awards the coveted FIA super license, which is a prerequisite for those drivers who want to compete in Formula One. Two years later that achievement was topped when Hankook Tire achieved a major milestone by becoming the exclusive tyre supplier to the world-renowned Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, or otherwise known as the DTM. Their entry into one of the most popular high-end motorsports events in Europe comes nearly 20 years after the introduction of their first racing tyre. After two years of successfully meeting the challenge of supplying performance tyres to the DTM grid, the race organisers extended Hankook Tires’ partnership as the series’ exclusive tyre supplier for another three years, until 2016.
In 2015 Hankook Tire began its support of the world’s largest endurance race, the 24H Series, as the series’ title sponsor and exclusive tyre partner. That same year Hankook’s role as the sole official tyre supplier extends to the Audi Sport TT Cup, Formula 4 in the United Kingdom and Australia, and the SMP F4 Championship.
That said, track driving is only one discipline that is covered by Hankook’s diverse expertise in motorsports. To prove the research and development prowess of Hankook Tire and its globally proven tyre technologies, the company also maintains a presence in the world of rallying as well as drifting.
Their venture into the rough and tumble world of rallying notched up several notable achievements, with the Hankook Tire team winning the China Rally Championship in 2007 and taking second place in the same series in the following year. Hankook also finished second overall at the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in Scotland in 2010.
That being said their presence in rallying was further strengthened in 2014 with the brand being selected to provide the official tyre for the World Rally Championship, the top tier rallying series in the world. Hankook Tire is also the sole official tyre supplier to the Extreme RallyCross Championship of Australia.
As for the world of drifting, Hankook Tire has had a significant presence in the Formula Drift Series of America since 2006. In 2011 the Hankook-Chevy Camaro Team took first place at the fourth round of Formula Drift in the USA, whereas the Hankook-Need For Speed team finished in second place at the second round of the 2012 Formula Drift season. In 2014 both first and second place of the 2014 Formula Drift Pro Series Championship were taken by the Hankook-Chris Forsberg Racing Team and Hankook-Papadakis Racing Team respectively.
It has been 33 years since Hankook presented its first racing tyre, and since then their influence in participation in motorsports has grown by leaps and bounds. At present Hankook Tire is an official racing tyre supplier for 40 different events around the world, thus making it not only one of the most prestigious tyre companies in the racing world, but also one of the most experienced in the business. Through tyres such as the Ventus F200, Z206, and Z207 performance track tyres, and its huge range of rally tyres suited for any condition, Hankook has garnered worldwide recognition in renowned international motorsports events, and serves as a showcase of its tyre technologies and capabilities both on and off the track.