It has been confirmed that global giant Michelin and new Chinese motorsport tyre manufacturer DMACK Tyres have been appointed as the two official tyre-suppliers to the 2011 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).
The WRC's exclusive agreement with new F1 tyre partner Pirelli – in-force since 2007 – foundered on the FIA's desire to reintroduce competition into the sport from next season onwards, and with the Italian company electing to walk away it has now been revealed that Michelin and DMACK will step in to fill the void, the former ostensibly providing rubber to the manufacturer entries and the latter to privateers.
'The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) has accepted Michelin's application to supply tyres for the World Rally Championship beginning in 2011,' reads a statement from the French marque, preparing to rejoin the fray following a six-year absence. 'Michelin's application was prompted by the FIA's decision to open the championship to more than one tyre manufacturer and by the likelihood of a rule change.
'Racing offers Michelin's teams the opportunity to validate their technological innovations in the most extreme conditions of use. These innovations will then be transferred to street tyres, thereby helping to improve the performance balance and lower the environmental impact of Michelin's products. Motorsport also provides a powerful incentive for Michelin to further its mission of ensuring sustainable mobility.
'That's why Michelin supports the FIA in its commitment to integrating a more responsible vision of rallying by reducing the number of tyres used, beginning in 2012. This is in-line with an environmental approach that Michelin has been pursuing since 1992, when it introduced its first fuel-efficient tyre.'
Whilst Michelin's experience and pedigree in the WRC are second-to-none – with no fewer than 38 world championship titles over the years, of which 18 drivers' crowns and 20 manufacturers' trophies – DMACK is far more of an unknown quantity, but the brand has successfully passed all FIA technical scrutiny. DMACK tyres are manufactured by Shandong Yongtai Chemical Group in its state-of-the-art facility in Dongying, China, where more than 22,000 tyres are produced every day for global distribution.
'DMACK will aim its supply at privateer teams and support category competitors by offering strong, durable, high-quality tyres at affordable prices,' explains a statement from the WRC newcomer. 'The pricing structure will allow drivers on a more limited budget to take advantage of a product offering high levels of performance and durability, with the option of on-event expertise and technical support.
'The FIA sporting regulations for 2011 encourage new tyre manufacturers to enter the WRC, and DMACK Tyres has taken full advantage of this. The technical rule changes make it more achievable for a new tyre manufacturer to reach the required standards and enter the World Rally Championship market. Ongoing evaluation of the WRC range is being conducted in China, and DMACK WRC gravel tyres will be available for competitors and teams to test from the end of October.'
“This is a golden opportunity for DMACK Tyres to enter the FIA World Rally Championship market and the supreme competitive challenges and excellent brand exposure it has to offer,” added Dick Cormack, DMACK Tyres motorsport director. “We studied the FIA's new tyre regulations for 2011 and decided to make a proposal.
“Technically, the new regulations are very achievable for a new manufacturer, and we based our proposal on bringing a very strong and durable product to the championship. We also wanted to help encourage more entries into the events by offering a two-tier pricing structure. Ongoing testing of the WRC tyres is taking place at our research facility in China and in the hands of our test driver Mark Higgins. As the first Chinese tyre manufacturer to enter the WRC, we see the opportunity to take the DMACK and Yongtai brands to a whole new level.”
The 2011 FIA World Rally Championship will consist of 13 events, beginning with Rally Sweden on 11 February.