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GP Week : Issue 174
RALLY >>> FEATURE W hen the FIA invited tenders for supplying the second generation of world championship control tyres, there was turmoil in the sport. Pirelli had presented their pitch to continue as a sole supplier for the next three years but then the FIA changed the conditions, Pirelli were lured into Formula 1 and two other names in tyre manufacturing shot to the fore. One very well established brand (Michelin, which had a long history of involvement with the sport prior to the single control tyre policy) and a completely new name were announced. DMack was a name nobody knew, the situation made even more curious when news arrived that the tyres were being made in China. It was all part of an extraordinary dream of an Englishman Dick Cormack, who until 2007 had worked for Pirelli in England. Cormack had a year out in 2008, and got down to business on his own account in 2009. Nowadays he has about 75 people employed as agents across the world selling the tyres; there are four people in the head office in Carlisle; while their partner has 2500 people working in the factory at Qingdao in Eastern China. DICK CORMACK: Basically I wanted to have my own brand and I knew I was capable of getting the tyres to market. I just needed a manufacturer that would back us. I know that the Chinese have an appetite for risk so I got on a plane, went to China and went round about a dozen manufacturers there and the one we settled with was technically capable of making the tyres. The people who were in charge of that particular organisation were quite young and welcoming to the fact that it was something completely new for them because these types of tyres had never been produced in China before. They could see the marketing benefits from producing motorsport tyres so that is how the relationship started basically. Your life as a tyre manufacturer started with Grippa? Basically we started manufacturing tyres in 13 inch sizes, for the Escort historic car market in the UK, which we called ‘Grippa’. That took off quickly because we were providing a tyre which was competitive, reasonably priced and puncture resistant. Then we moved on to other sizes once we realised we could produce the tyres in good quality. I had gone to China to follow my dream; basically it was nothing more than that. I could have come back from China with nothing but instead stayed there for two weeks, found a good manufacturer and decided that was it, give it a go. The next step was the world championship. At the time you presented your bid to the FIA, did you believe that both Michelin and Pirelli would also be tendering? Yes, I thought that Pirelli would and I also thought there would have been other tyre manufacturers as well. Maybe Hankook would probably have gone for it. So I was really surprised when there was only Michelin and ourselves. Once the contract came up with the FIA it was a golden opportunity for us. I reckoned that if we got into the WRC and built up our sales there, we could then get the sales worldwide on the back of it. People at national championship level are always looking at the WRC to see what products are there, and once we had an established position in the WRC orders came in from all the other countries. We definitely made the right decision to enter the WRC as a first international step. It’s been a challenging time, to say the least, but obviously we never thought it would be any different. We took a leap into the unknown and suddenly found that the grass was greener than we thought it would be. A new opportunity meant a new marketing name? Actually our tyres were always called DMack, DMack Grippa, but initially the emphasis was on the Grippa. We decided to change the emphasis. The DMack name is much stronger and DMack comes from my name, so we started to push the DMack more. WRC specification DMacks first saw the light of day in the middle of 2010, in time to show the FIA what would be the standard product for the 2011 season. Was it convenient that the tarmac rallies in 2011 came later in the calendar? No, because after we got the go-ahead on September 1, 2010, we had to produce examples of all the tyres 41 GPWEEK.com // 41 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: