Company representatives are obviously pleased to have taken on the position, and commented: “2006 looks like it may be a defining year for off-road motorsport in the U.K.”
“Ultimately we want people to enjoy themselves watching and participating in 4×4 competition,” explained Matador Tyre Sport U.K. managing director Graham Middleton, adding: “At the same time it brings a different angle to Matador’s sporting portfolio. We competed in the ‘clubman’ section of the championship last year, and were impressed with the way that the organisers listened to the competitors.”
Championship director, Selwyn Kendrick was equally glowing about the new sponsors. “We are very pleased to be joining the Matador motorsport family and are chuffed to bits to be partnered by a company that is as passionate about the sport as we are. Graham Middleton has got lots of ideas and we fully expect Matador to be very proactive in their support.”
The championship previously had a long-term relationship with Goodyear through Hi-Q, exclusively using the Goodyear Wrangler MT/R as a control tyre for the past five years. Matador representatives say that they are also interested in developing a long-term relationship with the series. For its part, the Slovakian manufacturer will provide its Wisentta mud-pattern and Izzarda all terrain tyres. The two tyres will be used side-by-side initially, allowing competitors to use up their existing stocks.
The announcement is seen as further evidence of Matador’s “grassroots to sand dunes” involvement in motorsport. The fact that the British Off Road Championship includes vehicles recognisable to the average motorist is seen as good way of encouraging new people into the sport at a grass roots level.
Chris Hammond, whose car featured in the show’s Live Action arena, is one example of success in this area. Having previously competed in the British Off-Road Championship, Hammond has stepped up to the world stage and is currently battling through sand dunes in the Dakar rally, driving for the Land Rover works team.