How Hankook is quietly going about its business

Work on the 2025 World Rally Championship tire is progressing, but Hankook aren't giving anything away yet

Filip Mares

It’s actually something of a refreshing approach that Hankook’s taking to its elevation to the World Rally Championship. The Seoul-based firm has binned the bells, the whistles, the sell and the spiel. Instead, it’s focused on making its tires for 2025.

As we know, the teams have run tires on all surfaces now. Next year’s Sweden cover is, by and large, signed off now. Croatia delivered more valuable mileage on an asphalt tire and Portugal’s where the gravel equivalent will be put through its paces.

Manfred Sandbichler is Hankook’s motorsport director for Europe. He’s aware that, as Pirelli’s former motorsport director Paul Hembery always used to say, you only take one victory with a control tire: that’s the one that comes in the bidding process. Hankook has won. Now it’s time for the hard yards.

Sandbichler wouldn’t be drawn on specifics, telling DirtFish: “We are testing, that’s sure. All I can say is that we are inside our target.”


Hankook’s motorsport director for Europe Manfred Sandbichler is staying tight-lipped about how development of the 2025 WRC is progressing

Professionally, people not saying stuff is bad. But between you and me, I quite like that Sandbichler’s keeping his powder dry. As a company, Hankook is mindful and respectful of Pirelli’s position as current tire supplier and it’s also aware that it’s early in the process of WRC tire development.

As has been the case with Pirelli’s development, Hankook is getting a day with each manufacturer to focus on its own product. In those days, the drivers drive, they don’t fiddle with clicks or tweak roll bars or anything like that. It’s a day on the tires. Nothing else.

Andreas Mikkelsen completed Hyundai’s day in Croatia.

“It was a good day,” the Norwegian told DirtFish. “A very promising day. I think everything seems to be on a very good level.”

More than that and his cheery chattiness deserted him.

“We’re not really allowed to say more.”

Filip Mares

The FIA target is for Rally1 and Rally2 tires to be as close as possible for 2025

Given the current uncertainty in the service park about where the future of technical regulations sits from Monte Carlo onwards, there’s concern that Hankook’s being asked to prepare tires without knowing what cars they’ll be used on.

FIA rally director Andrew Wheatley admitted he wasn’t concerned about next year’s Hankooks, saying: “The tire is designed to be fairly flexible. At the moment, one of the targets from Hankook is to make the tire between Rally1 and Rally2 as close as possible. It might be that there are some changes on different surfaces because it’s slightly different technical specification.

“The tire is being designed with a fairly wide window anyway. So I think we have a solution for that. I don’t think it’s an issue at the moment.”