Italian and German TCR Championships as well as European Junior Rally Championship and above all, as announced at the beginning of 2023 the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship and the Lamborghini Super Trofeo. Hankook's “appetite” for motorsport is growing just as the production models chosen as OE for some of the most exclusive cars: from mid-class saloons to single seaters with 100% electric propulsion to supercars such as the Huracan Evo2. We spoke about this with Paolo Leoncini, the new sales director of Hankook Tyre Italia, and Stefano Alessiani, marketing communications manager of the South Korean manufacturer's Italian branch. "Sponsorships allows us to follow two parallel paths. If, on the one hand, our now ten-year commitment to the Uefa Europa League and the Football Conference League (not forgetting the one with Real Madrid that will remain active until the end of the 2022-2023 football season) contributes to increasing brand awareness, on the other hand our motor sports efforts are aimed directly at the end consumer,' says Alessiani. "In fact, we use them as a media communication tool and an asset for sell-out promotions during tyre replacement periods, as well as to emphasise the technological transfer taking place from the stage of motorsport competitions to everyday use on the roads."
From the track to the road
As revealed last summer, Hankook is the technical partner and tyre supplier for the FIA World Championship reserved to electric Formula E single-seaters. The result of three years of development in close collaboration with the teams and drivers involved in this year's ninth edition of the championship, the new Hankook iON race tyres aim to meet the sustainability requirements of Formula E and at the same time the future of electric mobility without compromising motorsport performance. Almost 30 per cent of the new tyre uses sustainable materials. To further save resources, teams benefit from a product that can be used in both dry and wet conditions. A further step forward is the tyre's long life. At the end of each race weekend, Hankook completely recycles each set of tyres to ensure that the championship is as sustainable as possible. Even more immediate is the technological track/road transfer that links the Ventus Race tyres, used on the Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Evo2 engaged in the company's one-make series, to high-performance GTs and the tyres used in the TCR championships to our everyday cars. The same goes for the Hankook Dynapro and Ventus rally tyres.
"For Hankook, motor racing is the perfect testing ground for the development of new tyres that we then sell on a daily basis," explains Alessiani. "The huge investment in research and development, as well as in new technologies, not to mention the materials used in our racing tyres are what allow us to achieve the excellence that distinguishes the brand. Developing a tyre of this type means striving for perfection, to be able to cope with any situation, extreme forces and changing weather conditions. This allows us to gather the necessary information that we can then use in making road tyres that are no less hi-tech than our racing tyres. Quite the contrary, our road tyres must be able to cope with more kilometres, on a variety of routes and in different conditions. This is the case with the summer tyres of the Ventus family, which stem from the Ventus Race tyres, or the very recent iON for electric vehicles, which derives from tyres designed for the Formula E championship". And then there is another implication that is far from negligible. "It is often said that you come through the window only to leave through the front door. This is the case, for example, with many sponsorships that over time have resulted in lasting partnerships or structured and complex agreements that have helped us to become a company that is viewed as premium in global markets".
...and then, of course, sales
"Sales are a consequence of Hankook Tire's commitment to the world of mobility, fulfilling its social responsibility as a global company," emphasises Paolo Leoncini, who recently took over as sales director of Hankook's Italian subsidiary. - Our aim is to continue to invest, in a sustainable fashion, in the development of new technologies, creating positivity and optimism through experimentations with the latest technologies, so that we can ensure a constant supply of new dynamics for the future for the different types of driving experience of our customers. This approach is leading us to develop and consolidate partnerships with leading car manufacturers by increasing the share of original equipment dedicated to premium vehicles with a special focus on electric mobility thanks to our new dedicated ION line. It is precisely on the ION line dedicated to electric vehicles that part of our strategy will be based, with the aim of being ready when this technology is likely to become predominant”.
Hankook Tire Italia's objective is to increase the market share over the next few years through development and consolidation of the organisation, as well as a balanced approach across all sales channels. The brands currently offered on the Italian market and the so-called Overseas markets under our responsibility (Greece, Malta and Cyprus) are Hankook, which is the premium brand, and Laufenn. "Three years ago, we decided to become, starting from the 2023 season, the official technical partner and tyre supplier for what is probably the most progressive, modern and sustainable racing championship in the world”, states Sooil Lee, President & CEO of Hankook Tire & Technology. Hankook's brand philosophy and our strategic orientation towards an increasingly sustainable future are also reflected the spirit and DNA of Formula E. “In the coming years, we will advance together and significantly influence the development of modern motorsport”.