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Goodyear eyeing WEC hypercar tyre supply bid

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Goodyear eyeing WEC hypercar tyre supply bid
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Jul 21, 2019, 2:26 PM

Goodyear is considering a bid to supply the tyres for the hypercar class of the FIA World Endurance Championship from the 2020/21 season.

The tyre giant revealed last month on the announcement of its international motorsport comeback in the LMP2 division of the WEC next season that it was also evaluating other categories and series. 

Now, it has admitted that it has an interest in tendering to become the sole tyre supplier for the WEC's new top class from the start of the 2020/21 season.

Goodyear vice-president Mike Rytokoski told Motorsport.com: "We have just introduced a line-up of ultra high-performance tyres in Europe called Eagle F1 SuperSport, so we are really targeting those super-sportscars, so it would fit very well with what we doing with the brand.

"We also have the racing heritage and the technical capabilities, so from that perspective it also fits with our strategy."

Ben Crawley, motorsport director of Goodyear in Europe, added: "We want to be present in more than just LMP2 in the WEC and Le Mans 24 Hours environment. 

"Ultimately we want this [the LMP2 entry for the 2019/20 WEC] to be the first of a number steps in European and international motorsport over the coming years. It is part of a long-term brand programme for Goodyear." 

Crawley added that an expansion into the GTE classes, in which sister brand Dunlop last competed in 2017 with Aston Martin, remains another possibility. 

The WEC's hypercar class will have a single tyre supplier, but it will not have a spec tyre in the traditional sense. 

Vincent Beaumesnil, sporting director of WEC promoter the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, explained that the chosen tyre manufacturer would need to produce rubber to fit the different concepts of car competing in a category open to both prototypes and road-based machinery. 

"The philosophy will to have three ranges of tyre, though it could be two or it could be four, that will correspond to the different weight distributions of the cars," he explained. "The tyre will not be designed specifically for one car — the manufacturer will choose [from the range]."

Goodyear took the last of its 14 Le Mans victories in 1997 with the Joest Racing Porsche WSC-95, the season before it pulled out of Formula 1. The US-headquartered manufacturer raced on in CART and IndyCar for another season and was last represented at Le Mans in 2006.

These tyres, like its NASCAR rubber today, were produced at its Akron, Ohio development facility, but its entry into the WEC is being masterminded from its European technical centres in Luxembourg and Germany with input from the US.

Only one LMP2 car was listed with Goodyear tyres on the entry list for September's 2019/20 WEC season opener at Silverstone, High Class Racing's Oreca 07, but three others have no tyre listed. The remaining four cars have been listed as running on Michelins.

Goodyear Eagles

Goodyear Eagles

Photo by: Barry Cantrell / NKP / LAT Images

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Series WEC
Author Gary Watkins