Rumblings emerged this evening about the status of Firestone as the sole tyre supplier for the IZOD IndyCar Series beyond the end of this year.
Firestone have been sole supplier to the IndyCar series since Goodyear left the (then) Indy Racing League at the end of 2000, giving the series eleven years of unrivalled success in IndyCar. There was potential for the tyre company to using the threat of a pull-out as their contract with the series broached the point of expiration, but with that deadline passed, a withdrawl seems to be the most likely result.
However, all these rumours are still possibly just a stepping stone or a stumbling block, should points of negotiation have reached a head.
One can also not ignore the fact that Firestone’s parent company, Bridgestone, pulled out of both Formula 1 and GP2 at the end of 2010, marking what may be a significant shift in the Japanese company’s plans. If Firestone were to leave, it would also be potentially disastrous for the Indy Lights Championship, where the tyre supplier is also the title sponsor as well as the sole rubber supplier.
In the last two years, several other Japanese names have pulled out of top-level motorsports, such as Honda and Toyota (Formula 1), Subaru and Suzuki (World Rally Championship) and Kawasaki (MotoGP).