Connect with us


Continental Tire to Exit IMSA at End of 2018

Continental Tire to exit IMSA competition at end of 2018…

Photo: F. Peirce Williams/IMSA

Continental Tire will exit IMSA competition at the end of 2018, including title sponsorship of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, with IMSA electing not to extend its long-standing partnership, the tire manufacturer announced on Wednesday.

The change comes after a nearly decade-long relationship with IMSA, which has included the exclusive tire contract for the Prototype, Prototype Challenge and GT Daytona classes of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship since its launch in 2014.

Continental joined the sports car series in 2010, in Grand-Am, and has provided significant investment within the sport through various marketing activities.

Its five-year contract, signed pre-merger, expires at the end of 2018 and IMSA to evaluate proposals from multiple tire manufacturers to take over the exclusivity contract.

Continental says its proposal for a multi-year extension included a “significant increase” in investment.

“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.

“The relationships we’ve built over the years are many, and we thank everyone for their continued support of the Continental Tire brand. We also want to thank the fans. Without you, there would be no racing.“

It’s understood Michelin, along with Goodyear and Pirelli have all entered discussions with IMSA for the 2019 contract.

The French tire giant, which already supplies teams in the GT Le Mans class, is believed to be the leading candidate, which would include title sponsorship of IMSA’s SportsCar Challenge as well as being the exclusive tire provider for the entire WeatherTech Championship.

When reached by Sportscar365, a Michelin spokesperson has deferred all comments to IMSA, which has yet to issue a statement on its tire contract situation for 2019 and beyond.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John



  1. Mastercraft Tires FTW

    September 20, 2017 at 10:12 am

    So is it going to be an open tire selection or are they going to get someone like Pirelli?

    • Kenneth May

      September 20, 2017 at 10:41 am


      • Don't Treat Me Like I'm Dumb

        September 20, 2017 at 11:02 am

        I DID READ THE ARTICLE!!! The article originally said more to come… you would know that if you had read the article before that information became available like I did…

  2. the boot

    September 20, 2017 at 10:13 am

    RIP Continental Girls

    Have to think IMSA has a new deal already lined up. Michelin seems obvious but it could be Dunlop.

  3. Dan

    September 20, 2017 at 10:13 am

    Well, that’s a surprise.
    Guess on who will replace them? Dunlop, Michelin, Pirelli, Hankook, Yokohama are some of mine.

  4. Mike S.

    September 20, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Michelin or whoever will be sole tire provider. Not open. Hopefully GTLM will remain open though.

  5. Parker

    September 20, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Will the change result in having to use a combo of softs, medium and hard like in open wheel series?

    • Brad

      September 20, 2017 at 11:08 am

      I wouldn’t expect a change in sponsorship to affect the regulations. The specification of tire for a particular series/class has more to do with limiting costs and keeping the playing field level than it does sponsorship relationships.

  6. RealPrototypesHaveFins

    September 20, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Tire war time!

  7. John

    September 20, 2017 at 10:20 am

    The story’s wording contains some ambiguity, but if I’m reading this correctly, Nascar has decided not to re-up with Conti, even thought the latter wanted to continue, according to the quote. If that’s the case, it would be IMSA ending its involvement, not vice versa, and what the first line of the story suggests.

    So who has IMSA signed as a replacement? Or will there be open tire competition in P like some want, with a non-rubber sponsor filling Conti’s shoes?

    And I just bought a new set of Contis (I would have chosen them anyway, but their support of IMSA was a bonus).

    • Brad

      September 20, 2017 at 11:14 am

      First up, what does NASCAR have to do with this? I know there is ownership commonality here, but this discussion is entirely IMSA. Let’s not add any more confusion.

      These reports all appear to stem from a Continental Tire press release. The source press release is poorly worded as well.

      This is a direct quote from the Continental Tire press release:

      “After submitting a proposal for a multi-year extension, that included a significant increase in investment, IMSA has chosen not to extend the partnership.”

      Given that this is a Conti release, I’m going to assume that it was a Continental Tire proposal to IMSA, requiring a significant increase in investment on IMSA’s part; hence, IMSA made the choice not to adopt the extension.

      It’s all very convoluted, but at the same time, what really matters is that there’s a sponsorship change coming. Hopefully another tire manufacturer will step up to the plate.

      • John

        September 20, 2017 at 8:58 pm

        If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, acts like a duck, and shares the same mother, I’m not afraid to call it a duck.

        Many may not; fair enough.

        As for the rest, there are some ambiguous lines in Conti’s PR. And regurgitating them didn’t help make things any clearer in lieu of later revisions to the piece.

        However, it’s not the participants who usually invest in the sponsors, it’s quite the opposite. Such relationships are not ambiguous at all.

        And as has been now confirmed, it was IMSA who broke off the relationship, not Conti, despite their proposal with an increased commitment.

        IMSA felt it got the best offer from Michelin and took that instead. Case closed.

  8. Luc

    September 20, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Now time for some really fast slicks!

  9. David

    September 20, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Come on Michelin!

    • David

      September 20, 2017 at 10:37 am

      Better yet make the whole championship OPEN

  10. Guest

    September 20, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Time for some good tires.

  11. Bob

    September 20, 2017 at 10:49 am

    How the heck did NASCAR ever get brought into this conversation? @John….

    Still unbelievable that the first poster failed to read the article…

    • WesGTR

      September 20, 2017 at 10:56 am

      Bob, you may not know this (and I can’t imagine how have you not known after all this time) but NASCAR was owner and founder of Grand-Am, who bought IMSA and founded what we know today as The WeatherTech Sportscar Championship and all its feeder structure. So yeah, what NASCAR says on this matter is almost gospel.

      • Grand Am Fan

        September 20, 2017 at 11:02 am

        Grand Am – especially 2003-2006 – is widely considered to be the golden age of American sports car racing.

        • tracer

          September 20, 2017 at 3:19 pm

          lol 😂

          • Grand Am Fan

            September 21, 2017 at 10:43 am

            I don’t get why you think that is funny. It was awesome to see those sexy coupes banging with each other around the track and to have the crossover NASCAR stars.

        • Joe

          September 20, 2017 at 4:07 pm


        • Jeff Wagner

          September 20, 2017 at 10:22 pm

          Well, you and Andy Flinn are the two people that think that.

    • Barber

      September 20, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      The first poster read it before it was updated..

  12. Matt

    September 20, 2017 at 10:55 am

    Sponsership is fine but allow teams to run the tires they want to run

  13. Andrew

    September 20, 2017 at 11:03 am

    Now we can have some rain tires that work and proper slicks

  14. EricJ

    September 20, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Hoosier was actually manufacturing the tires for P, GTD and CTSC. Continental recently bought Hoosier.

  15. Psychlops924

    September 20, 2017 at 11:12 am

    “IMSA to evaluate proposals from multiple tire manufacturers to take over the exclusivity contract.”
    Ugh. This is the most disappointing news about this imo. Why an exclusivity contract? Why not allow open tire war? I know the answer is “cost”, but if you have multiple tire manufacturers willing to put up the money for an exclusivity contract, couldn’t they instead put that money into tire development, meaning that the teams wouldn’t be the ones bearing the increased cost?
    I mean, look at Super GT, much of their great racing comes from the different tire compounds that work better at different points in the stint.
    But I guess IMSA makes more money off of an exclusivity contract than it would from the increased competition that open tire regs would create. Sad

    • Brad

      September 20, 2017 at 11:18 am

      Managing tire selection and inventory is not a problem you want to introduce lightly. What happens when teams have inventory of a particular tire brand/type, and a competing tire starts dominating? The sport is undergoing a renaissance right now, largely because IMSA appears to have found the right balance between competition and limiting costs.

      Look at the size of the fields in series & classes where open tire selection exists. There’s a reason for that.

    • JEZ

      September 20, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      Because open tire choice means the money is going into R&D, and like GTLM may end up being close to a single tire anyway.

      Exclusive means IMSA gets the money, and the manufacturer gets all the marketing associated with it.

      It is simply a better business decision, even if it is sacrificing ultimate tire performance.

  16. Cactus Tony

    September 20, 2017 at 11:13 am

    When the spec-Michelins end up being every bit as flawed as the Continentals, where will the Keyboard Brigade direct its fury?

    • Max

      September 20, 2017 at 6:36 pm

      At NASCAR apparently.

  17. MB

    September 20, 2017 at 11:32 am

    This is kind of a really big break-up considering Continentals’ acquisition of Hoosier. I have to assume that the acquisition was made with a certain long-term strategy in mind as to the IMSA property.

    IMSA has some big balls man…

    • Mike

      September 20, 2017 at 12:54 pm

      Continental’s Hoosier purchase was, I believe, more about getting US manufacturing facilities for street tires, which are all badged Continental and which are (contrary to IMSA) very very good tires.

  18. Mike

    September 20, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    It will be Michelin or Dunlop to allow one more Sebring joint-race issue to be resolved.

  19. AMR

    September 20, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Wonderful. We go from one spec tire to another. In the end, it’s a name change for everyone but GTLM. Too bad IMSA won’t do the right thing and allow an open tire rule in DPi. Then we can see Michelin step up to the plate and make a better tire because everyone knows Dunlop the the best right now. I can see it now. DPi teams showing up with Michelins at LeMans and then complaining because the Dunlop shod teams are much faster and consistent.

  20. juneracer

    September 20, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Dunlop makes the best LMP2 tire with in the commercial availability rules. Michelin doesn’t want to show what they use in P1. the P1 tires like the GTLM/GTE tires you lease and can’t keep them. open tires in DPi would make them all Michelin shod with P1 derivative tires…

  21. JoeShambo2

    September 20, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    We were told Michelin outbid Continental for the contract… Hoosier/Continental will provide tires through 2018

  22. Juninho

    September 20, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    IMSA in 2019

    P1 (Michelin)
    P2 (Dunlop/Michelin)
    Pro (Michelin/Dunlop)
    Pro-Am (Pirelli)

    WEC in 2018-19

    LMP1 (Michelin)
    LMP2 (Dunlop/Michelin)
    GTE-Pro (Michelin/Dunlop)
    GTE-Am (Michelin/Dunlop)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More in IMSA