The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) and Continental Tire have reached a multi-year partnership agreement that will make Continental Tire the exclusive tire supplier in three classes during next year's inaugural United SportsCar Racing season.
Starting with next January's Rolex 24 At Daytona â the season-opening United SportsCar Racing event â Continental's exclusivity will extend to the new series' Prototype (P), Prototype Challenge (PC) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes. The GT Le Mans (GTLM) category will be open to multiple tire manufacturers.
Continental Tire also will return as title sponsor and exclusive tire supplier of the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC), a developmental series currently sanctioned by GRAND-AM Road Racing. Starting next year, the CTSCC and United SportsCar Racing will run under IMSA sanctioning, resulting from the merger of GRAND-AM, IMSA and the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Presented by Tequila Patron.
"We are extremely proud to be a part of United SportsCar Racing, the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge and the future," said Travis Roffler, director of marketing for Continental Tire. "Our team has worked hard over the last several years to help bring competitive, action-packed racing to sports car fans at every track we visit. And we are thrilled to continue our commitment to IMSA and all the manufacturers, teams and drivers in 2014 and beyond."
"This is a proud day for the future of United SportsCar Racing as we solidify a partnership that already has roots in both GRAND-AM and the ALMS," said Ed Bennett, who will serve as chief executive officer of IMSA.
"And in solidifying this partnership we also are introducing the important element of stability across three classes in United SportsCar Racing â and the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. Continental Tire's partnership and support, vital to the business of the ALMS and GRAND-AM this season, will be even more so in 2014 and beyond."
Continental Tire will continue to use their exclusive racing tire from their ExtremeContact line of tires. Continental has incorporated a variety of technologies into a tire that is durable and provides the performance that professional teams and drivers demand and have come to trust. Continental Tire will continue to provide full, first-class at-track support at all United SportsCar Racing and CTSCC events as well. As part of the agreement, Continental Tire will receive logo placement on cars and will continue to activate at-track via hospitality, signage, event entitlements and other marketing initiatives. Continental Tire will also support the series off-track through a variety of promotions, marketing events and TV.
Continental Tire debuted as the title sponsor and exclusive tire supplier for the CTSCC in 2010. In 2011, the global company became the official tire of GRAND-AM as well as exclusive tire supplier to both the CTSCC and Rolex Series. At the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida, in March, Continental Tire debuted as the presenting sponsor and exclusive tire provider for the PC class in the ALMS.
Also carrying over to United SportsCar Racing from the ALMS is the open tire specification for what will be the GTLM class. Plans for additional tire manufacturers to compete in the manufacturer-based class will be announced as relationships are finalized.
"The GTLM class is based on the same ACO (Automobile Club l'Ouest) specifications as the GTE class internationally," said Scot Elkins, vice president of competition and technical regulations for IMSA beginning next season. "This class is largely home to automotive manufacturer teams who desire flexibility in creating tire partnerships to develop technologies in racing that eventually find their way to the streets. In many cases, these are mutually beneficial partnerships that have been developed and nurtured over several years."