Kumho Teams With Miracle Motorsports in The ALMS
FONTANA, Calif. - The American Le Mans Series continued its distinction as the only racing series in the world that creates a platform for multiple tire manufacturers to prove their capabilities as KUMHO Tire U.S.A. joined the ultra competitive ALMS tire ranks. KUMHO announced a prototype program focused with Miracle Motorsports, the reigning LMP2 champions and will now compete with as many as six other tire manufacturers all set to battle, beginning with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 17-19.
While the ALMS will represent KUMHO's first foray into professional road racing in the U.S., the company is involved with other professional series around the world, such as the Japanese GT Championship and Formula 3 in Europe and Asia. KUMHO will also continue to be a part of amateur racing in the U.S. through participation in the series sponsored by the Sports Car Club of America, Porsche Club of America, BMW Car Club of America, the National Auto Sport Association and Championship Off Road Racing, among others.
KUMHO TIRE U.S.A. has agreed to supply tires for the Miracle Motorsports team in the American Le Mans Series. Miracle is the defending class champion in LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 2) and also won the LMP2 class at last year's running of the 12 Hours of Sebring. KUMHO and Miracle signed a multi-year contract; terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
"Miracle Motorsports is a proven, experienced team that knows how to win," said Rick Brennan, brand manager for KUMHO TIRE U.S.A. "Coming into the ALMS with the defending class champions will help us get up to speed quickly, and it will also put some pressure on us because we want to help them defend their championship. We've got a lot of work to do in a short amount of time to be ready for Sebring, but we're up to the task. Everyone at KUMHO-in Akron, Fontana, Korea and Europe-is excited about this venture and will work together to make it successful.""
KUMHO will begin tire development testing with Miracle in January, under the direction of Rudy Consolacion, KUMHO's motorsports manager. Consolacion developed KUMHO's most recent DOT-approved race tire, the ECSTA V710, which won numerous races and SCCA regional and national championships in 2004, its first year of competition.
"The ALMS is the one and only North American racing series where a 'David' can go up against and compete directly with the 'Goliaths' in world-class sports car races," said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. "KUMHO has obviously done its homework and has recognized that the combination of world-class manufacturers competing at the best road racing venues on network television and with an unmatched fan following makes the American Le Mans Series the place to be."
Based just 40 minutes from Sebring, Florida, Miracle and team owner John Macaluso will defend the series crown in 2005 with a French-made Courage C65. Piloting the car will be the familiar series duo of Jeff Bucknum and Chris McMurry, who have raced in 29 ALMS events as a tandem including 11 podium finishes and three victories. Macaluso will co-drive in endurance races.
"We're pleased by this partnership because everyone involved is determined, dedicated and focused on the same goal," said John Macaluso, owner of Miracle Motorsports. "KUMHO may be new to the American Le Mans Series, but they have a great track record in racing globally, and we're looking forward to applying that knowledge and their intense commitment to competing successfully to work for our program."
"The ALMS is the only professional road racing series in the U.S. that promotes tire competition, and that's important to us," said Brennan. "We don't want to compete against ourselves in a spec tire series because that doesn't prove how good our tires are."
In addition to open tire competition, KUMHO will benefit from ALMS' recognition as the world's premier professional sports car championship. ALMS will also provide good television exposure for KUMHO, with races broadcast live on CBS or Speed Channel (where 2004 ratings increased 25 percent over 2003). Additionally, KUMHO will receive on-site exposure from big crowds at ALMS races; nearly 550,000 people attended the series' nine races in 2004-a 20 percent increase from 2003.
"KUMHO Tires has shown a very sensible approach to motor sports, building on success and technology at each level of racing as they develop new products," said Tim Mayer, COO of IMSA. "They will now compete in one of the most difficult racing platforms in the world, the American Le Mans Series, where competition amongst tire manufacturers is at the very highest level. We welcome this development as it continues to validate our belief that the ALMS provides world class competition and world class value to drivers, teams and manufacturers."