Hankook Tire America Corp., rolled out its drifting hardware at a test day at Willow Springs Raceway in Rosamond, CA. on Thursday March 1. The Hankook Tires/JIC Magic USA Porsche 993, driven by veteran drift racer Tyler McQuarrie, and the Nissan S15 Silvia driven by Kenji Yamanaka are both expected to be strong championship contenders in the 2007 Formula Drift Series, which begins April 7 at the Long Beach Grand Prix.
Jay Lee, Hankook Tire Product Manager from the North American headquarters and engineers from Korea and Hankook’s Tech Center in Ohio were on hand to oversee the fitment and performance of the Hankook Ventus R-S2 tires. “Drivers need speed through the corners to get the tires to spin and drift, but they also need great grip so they can place the car where they want it,” said Lee. “Control is the key to winning these competitions and our tires provide the ultimate grip.”
Because the drifting market currently is much larger in Japan than in the U.S., the tires Hankook selects for its North America drifting teams have already gone through approximately three years of testing and competition in Japan by D1 drivers.
“When we announced a drifting Porsche, there were a lot of skeptics and doubters,” said Bill Bainbridge, Director of Brand Communication for Hankook Tire America Corp. “The truth is you can drift just about anything as long as it is engineered correctly.”
The Hankook Tires/JIC Magic Porsche has been re-engineered with a JIC/Cross suspension that incorporates a special drifting setup opposite of the norm. Since Porsche models are heavier at the rear, softer rear springs allow the car to “squat” to get better traction. Custom control arms, tie-rods and knuckles had to be created to get the extreme angle needed for competitive drifting, to keep the tires from rubbing as the car turns. Final modifications include a 600-hp engine and relocated oil cooler.
“There are still a few minor tweaks to make on the Porsche before it takes to the track in Long Beach,” said Bainbridge. “We have great confidence in Tyler’s driving skills and the technical prowess of the JIC Magic crew to get everything buttoned up in the next few weeks. I look forward to my next report being from the winner’s circle.”
During the test session the Hankook Tires/JIC Magic USA Nissan S15 Silvia, driven by both McQuarrie and Yamanaka really raised a few eyebrows. Both drivers used the Willow Springs test session to refine the car’s handling since team engineers and mechanics have added an additional 100 horsepower under the hood since last year’s Formula D finals.