FONTANA, Calif. (Sept. 4, 2008) — Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd.'s Falken brand is the latest tire brand to make an appearance in the American LeMans Series (ALMS) this year, providing tires and primary sponsorship for Black Swan Racing's GT2 class Ford GT-R.
The sponsorship/supply deal—for the 2008 and 2009 seasons—involves Falken Tire Corp., the Fontana-based marketer of the Falken brand in North America, and Boston-based Black Swan Racing.
Black Swan has competed four times this season, with an eighth-place class finish at Lime Rock Raceway in Connecticut the best performance.
This marks Falken Tire's first foray into competitive road racing in North America. The firm also is involved in drifting and has competed in Japan and Europe in years past in various road-racing series there. Falken's parent Sumitomo Rubber makes the racing rubber in Japan.
“Our participation in American LeMans is not only to further expose the motorsport masses and general public to the Falken brand, it's also the ideal proving and testing grounds for future street tire technologies,” said Falken President and COO Richard Smallwood in a prepared statement.
“2009 will be our year to shine. With Falken thriving from a business standpoint and a solid half year of R&D under our belts in the world-class LeMans series, we're confident that Falken will deliver a serious one-two punch both on the street and the track.”
Neither Falken nor Black Swan commented on the value of Falken's sponsorship.
The addition of Falken brings to five the number of tire brands competing in the ALMS, although Falken tires are made by parent company Sumitomo in Japan. Michelin North America Inc. supplies most of the competitors, with six teams opting for Dunlop and one each for Yokohama and Kumho tires.
In drifting, Falken is sponsoring as many as seven competitors in the Formula Drift and D1 Grand Prix series in North America and supplying them with its Azenis-RT series tires.