4. VLN Lauf 2014, Nürburgring-Nordschleife - Foto: Jan Brucke
Falken Tyre Europe GmbH is the European subsidiary of Japanese tyre manufacturer Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. The Falken brand was born in 1983 and five years later the company’s European headquarters was established in Offenbach am Main, Germany. A similar operation followed in 1991 in the USA. A fast expanding tyre manufacturer in Europe, Falken now is perhaps best known for the striking green/blue liveried Falken Porsches, but their motorsport history is an interesting one.
It wasn’t until 1999 that Falken started racing in Europe when Team Falken first competed in the ADAC 24h-Race at the Nürburgring. The team raced at first with the Falken Nissan Skyline, where one of the famous drivers in the early days was Roland Asch. After a break from racing in 2006, the team returned with a Nissan 350Z in 2007, but it was only in 2011 that Team Falken became a regular with a Porsche 911 in the VLN series and the Nürburgring 24 Hours.
When asked why the company chose motor racing through which to show their products, Falken Motorsports Manager Stefanie Olbertz said, “It is really good for our marketing, because the Nürburgring Nordschleife is known as a very difficult track and an exciting place to race. Also, with long-distance racing, everyone knows that it requires more commitment than a 30-minute race, and so this really fits well with what Falken is doing. Falken also wants to demonstrate the performance of its tyres in very difficult weather conditions and in all kinds of weather conditions, and that is why we chose the Nürburgring.”
When the brand was developed, it was aimed at the European market with the target and core market being Germany. “We have the autobahn in Germany, so the image of cars in Germany is of much higher value to the people than in other countries, and so that is why Japan decided to have Germany as the main market for Europe. It is a premium market, which is where Falken is moving towards,” Olbertz reasoned.
Taking the above argument into account, Porsche is just one of the top German brands, and Falken could have gone with any of the big four when they made a commitment to go with a European brand in 2011. “Actually, it was also a result of our American sister company already having raced with Porsche. When we started, the GT segment was also just starting to grow and Porsche was perhaps the first manufacturer who had a proper customer car that customers could buy without having to extensively modify one, or maybe having to build a car yourself,” Olbertz explained.