Following the announcement regarding the provision of the Nankang control tyre and the prices to be charged in the Club and Club Pro classes, there have been a number of reactions and questions – some understandable and some unacceptable – levelled at the championship and its nominated tyre supplier.
The following information sets out the reasons behind this season’s arrangement.
Following the announcement that Pirelli would withdraw from the championship at the end of 2022, a replacement supplier has been actively sought, with Hankook agreeing to be the exclusive control tyre supplier.
However, as the semi-slick Hankook tyre we wish to use is not available in Europe, it required approval by MSUK and subsequent planning by Hankook thereafter to produce and import in the sizes and quantities required, which made it impossible for them to be supplied in time for the season start
As general opinion last year showed the Nankang tyre was a popular addition last year, the decision was taken to continue to use it in 2023. This year’s arrangement is a simple stop-gap solution that’s not intended to continue into 2024, until the Hankook provision is finalised.
Due to the issues of supply together with a certain amount of confusion and attempts by some competitors to exploit the situation to suit themselves over the past two seasons, to make it fair on everyone it was clear that a single-source supplier and a visual indication that the correct tyres are being used is required.
Branding the tyres with the Time Attack logo enables the scrutineers, officials and other competitors to readily and easily identify the tyres. The single source supply also ensures that records of supply can be kept and referred to and therefore reduce the opportunity for the rules to be broken and apply a further level of fairness for all who stick to the regulations.
Tegiwa has kindly agreed to provide the purchasing, warehousing, branding, record-keeping, stock control, sales transaction and distribution service and will do so in their usual efficient and professional manner.
Please note that Tegiwa will also supply the Hankook tyre range for the Pro classes this year with slicks and wets – and then when the Hankook semi slick comes online too. This means their involvement to provide an interim solution will become permanent when we switch fully to Hankook, thus building on any new buying route and familiarity between teams and themselves.
The decision to appoint Tegiwa to do this on our behalf is one to acknowledge the expertise they already have and one that appoints a team that competes at every event that can support the package, work with you and keep the supply chain within the TA ‘family’.
The entire process is one of control to regain integrity in the tyre process while we await the long-term supply agreement from Hankook. The branding of the tyres is not to make them appear special, nor to warrant a non-discounted price, but to provide visible control.
The ‘T’ designation is there to ensure that teams purchase the correct tyre from Tegiwa, as they also sell unbranded AR-1 tyres. Teams must ensure they order AR1T tyres for use in Time Attack when placing orders from the Tegiwa website, as tyres will not be retro branded once supplied.
Tegiwa will be compensated for its involvement and any additional revenue raised will go towards the championship’s operational cost increases that will be incurred this year, none of which have been passed onto teams. As mentioned during the drivers meeting at Snetterton, entry fees have been frozen.
This new arrangement is not designed to replace sponsorship revenue lost by Pirelli’s departure – volume sales would not get anywhere close to that – it’s there for the purpose of fairness and competition.
As there is no sponsorship deal involved, there is no financial contribution by either Nankang or Hankook to the championship and consequently, no tyre manufacturer stickers will be carried on the cars this season. Please note that because there is no sponsorship arrangement this year, there are no on-event tyres sales and whilst a limited fitting service will be available for TA and Drift competitors, currently there is no provision for wheel balancing. Therefore, it is advisable to prepare your wheels and tyres prior to each event.
We make no secret that the price of the tyres is RRP. Those who purchased them cheaper from Tegiwa last year would have done so because of a generous discount offered to them on an individual basis. And whilst there has been a concern of additional costs by some drivers, those who were using Pirelli (which everyone would have done had the tyres been available), will find their budget will go further this year.
We note from the recent competitor questionnaire that most responses indicated a wish for some sessions to be extended to 20-minutes. Because of the available time in the schedules this year due to the exit of TCR, this additional time will be introduced for the Qualifying and Final sessions, whilst the entry fees will continue to remain at the same pro-rata price they have been since 2014 despite our own rising costs.
As always, we work hard in attracting sponsorship in order to keep entry fees low and cover additional costs. This is a foundation feature of the entire Championship and has been since 2006. Consequently, you will see new brand names as sponsors this year.
We trust these points answer your questions and set aside many of your concerns.
However, if you continue to have any questions about the subject of tyre supply and this year’s arrangements as detailed here, Andy Barnes has said he is available to talk to any team and driver directly and with transparency on a one-to-one basis, to ensure any grey areas are made clear and rumours are put to bed.
Andy’s office number is 01795 581366.
We’re sure that like us, you are looking forward to the first event and another memorable season ahead!