Continental Tire will end its association with IMSA after the 2018 season and Michelin will take its place as IMSA's official tire starting in 2019.
According to Continental, its supply for three of the four WeatherTech SportsCar Championship classes, plus sole supply and title sponsorship of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, and supply for the Prototype Challenge series will conclude after its bid for a contract extension with IMSA was not accepted.
"We are extremely proud of the contributions we've made to sports car racing in the U.S.," said Travis Roffler, director of marketing of Continental Tire the Americas. "We worked diligently to continue our support of IMSA, and the growth of the sport, and are disappointed in IMSA's decision to go a different direction. We remain committed to making the 2018 IMSA season a fantastic year for the fans, drivers, and all the teams."
Continental became the sole supplier of the former Grand-Am Rolex Series in 2010 and was chosen to supply all of IMSA's major series when it debuted in 2014, barring the GT Le Mans class, which is supported by Michelin.
“The significance of this expanded partnership with Michelin, one of the world’s most recognized premium brands, cannot be overstated,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton. “IMSA has enjoyed a long and successful relationship with Michelin, and we are proud to confirm this long-term agreement. Our expanded partnership with Michelin – which also enjoys strong relationships with many of our participating automotive manufacturers – will be a catalyst for accelerating the growth of the WeatherTech Championship and IMSA as a whole.
“We are extremely grateful for the role Continental Tire played in helping to grow our racing platforms throughout our partnership dating back to 2010,” Atherton added. “Continental has been an outstanding partner and was instrumental in elevating the status of the WeatherTech Championship and Continental Tire Challenge to new heights. We extend heartfelt appreciation to our friends at Continental for their unwavering support.”
Michelin North America motorsports director Chris Baker has been consistent in his statements regarding a desire to expand the manufacturer's role in IMSA.
“We are tremendously pleased by today's announcement,” said Scott Clark, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Michelin North America. “The continued growth and success of the WeatherTech Championship and IMSA’s related series provides a great platform for us to engage performance enthusiasts and showcase our Michelin Pilot Sport family of ultra-high performance tires.
“Michelin does not enter into long-term collaborations lightly or solely for our own benefit,” Clark added. “We are committed to IMSA, the competitors and fans to help continue the growth and success of the series on and off the track. This is a tremendous opportunity to work together to grow the sport. We are enthusiastic and eager to make our Michelin tires available to the entire field beginning in 2019.”
The news of Continental's upcoming exit comes days before IMSA's penultimate round, the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix, takes place from Sept. 22-24.