Japanese giants share interest in FM

Valencia, Spain will see the first Formula Master action of the year next week, with 2008 featuring a distinctly Japanese flavour to the Series thanks to Yokohama ADVAN’s continuing tyre partnership and the new involvement of Honda.It is not often the two Japanese giants have worked together in motorsport but Yokohama’s newly-appointed General Manager of Motorsport, Mr Akinori Tokieda, says it is a sign of the growing importance of the Far East within motorsport. “In the last few years we have seen the resurgence of many Japanese manufacturers in motorsport,” said Mr Tokieda. “Toyota and Honda are both in Formula 1 whilst Yokohama has been increasingly present within all motorsport avenues since the ADVAN brand’s launch in 1978. There is also a significant increase in Asian tracks on motorsport calendars such as the addition of Okayama, Japan, in the World Touring Car Championship this year. ”We have seen the power of motorsport in promoting products that are both relevant to racing and every day life. For us, it is the perfect avenue to reinforce Yokohama’s reputation as a lasting and quality product.” The 2008 Formula Master field was out in force for the latest official test in Magny-Cours last month with fastest times alternating between 2007 graduates and 2008 rookies throughout the two days. Rookies showed that the latest developments on the Formula Master single-seater were by no means beyond a newcomer’s reach with young racer Fabio Leimer fastest on one day whilst 2007 vice-champion Chris van der Drift topped the timesheets on the other. With drivers reporting added torque and speed, especially in lower revs, Yokohama Technical Consultant Ian Beveridge explained what this means for the Series’ Yokohama ADVANs:“From what we have seen so far in testing, the car is likely to be one second per lap quicker on average than last year,” said Beveridge. “This means slightly more stress on the tyre but it is still well within the working range of the tyre we designed for the Series last year.“Since they are going faster, there is a chance that by making a mistake in the car’s set-up, they could overload the tyre but that’s very unlikely. We haven’t seen that in this Series so far and I don’t expect to see it in Valencia either as teams understand how to work with the tyres.”