Stunning weekend of motorsport for Yokohama
· Two excellent Formula Two races at Silverstone on Yokohama tyres· Enormous Lotus On Track support race grids on Yokohama· Irish Touring Car Championship debut on YokohamaThis weekend saw a stunning start to the 2012 motorsport season for Yokohama, the Japanese brand of high performance and motorsport tyres. The UK distributor, Yokohama HPT Ltd supported three series at Silverstone, including the first round of the 2012 FIA Formula Two Championship running on Yokohama control tyres. Across the Irish Sea, the Irish Touring Car Championship kicked-off, featuring Yokohama tyres for the first time.Since it was announced in January that Yokohama would feature as the control tyres for the F2 series, things have been busy for the UK distributor. It mounts the 480 tyres for each event to the wheel rims supplied by the centrally-run series and also provides on-event support, including tyre engineers and replacement infrastructure.The run-up to the Silverstone event saw very mixed weather in the UK. Significant testing had been carried out using the ADVAN A005 dry weather slicks but the A006 wet weather tyres had only run for a handful of laps during wet winter testing. However, the dry tyres had proved to help the 2012 car to be two seconds a lap faster than the previous years while the brief wet running suggested even greater improvements.As it transpired, the first race weekend remained dry. Saturday saw a frantic qualifying session, with teenage sensation Matheo Tuscher claiming pole position with a lap more than three seconds faster than the previous year's equivalent time. However, in the race it was British driver Luciano Bacheta who took victory, after a race-long battle with Christopher Zanella and Alex Fontana.The second race on Sunday saw another incredibly close qualifying, with the top ten drivers covered by just 0.8 seconds and Mihai Marinescu taking pole for the race later that afternoon. Spots of rain failed to turn into a wet surface and again, it was Bacheta who took the chequered flag, after another race-long battle which ended as he snatched the lead on the penultimate lap.But it wasn't just Formula Two that Yokohama supported at Silverstone. The weekend saw two of the Lotus On Track race series supporting F2, including the Lotus Elise Trophy on Saturday with two races and the Lotus Cup UK on Sunday. The Lotus series' are always popular and this year is no exception, with a grid of no less than 43 cars for the Elise Trophy race, which like the Cup UK, runs on Yokohama ADVAN A048 tyres.The Sports2000 series was also in action for the first time in 2012, the second year since its switch from crossply to radial Yokohama tyres and again, it featured a huge grid, one of the largest in UK club motorsport.Across the Irish Sea, the first round of the 2012 Yokohama Irish Touring Car Championship took place at Mondello Park. Split into two classes, Touring and Super Touring, the day saw two races with both classes on the track at the same time. Despite a large shunt in the second race, where the driver happily walked away, the day saw exceptional racing action. Eventually, it was Garreth Hayden who took the win in the first SuperTouring race with Phil Brennan taking the second. In the Touring class, Cian Carey took the first race win.Commenting on the weekend, Head of Motorsport at Yokohama HPT, Mark Evans, said; "I am delighted with how well this weekend went. It was incredibly busy, with three series starting at Silverstone and the Irish Touring Cars at Mondello and it's been a great start to the 2012 motorsport season for Yokohama."The feedback from the Formula Two series was very good. The Yokohama ADVAN tyres clearly performed - the pole position time on Saturday was more than three seconds faster than the previous year and this was, in part, thanks to the new tyres. The organisers and the drivers all seemed very pleased with not only the performance but also how the tyres maintained that performance over the race distance and of course, we are very pleased that they delivered."The field for the Lotus series was incredible, as we have come to expect and the racing was superb, as it was for the Sports 2000 field. I also understand that the Irish Touring Cars put on an exceptional event on their first meeting running on Yokohama tyres."James Goodfield, F2's Chief Engineer, said: "As well as helping make the car more than three seconds quicker than last year's pole time, the Yokohama tyres were able to sustain a high level of performance over the full race distance, particularly at high speed. The Yokohama tyre is very good at converting downforce into grip too and giving the drivers much more confidence in high speed corners and that, combined with the support from the Yokohama team, made for a very enjoyable season opener."