TUDOR named entitlement partner for United SportsCar in five-year deal

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United SportsCar Racing has a new name and a new title sponsor. The renamed TUDOR United SportsCar Championship was revealed today at NASCAR Chase Media Day in Chicago. The official series release is below: 

The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) announced today that TUDOR — an innovative and retro-chic brand — has been named entitlement partner for the next five years of what now will be known as the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The IMSA announcement this morning precedes TUDOR’s official U.S. launch this evening during New York Fashion Week.

“The 2014 season will feature the rebirth and revitalization of sports car racing in North America, and therefore it’s the ideal time to introduce a premium watch brand like TUDOR to our U.S. fans and partners, as well as further solidify our relationship with the international motorsports community,” said IMSA CEO Ed Bennett. “This is a natural progression of the fantastic relationship we’ve cherished for decades with our partners at Rolex.

“In TUDOR, we have an optimal match for the Championship, as its brand attributes align with ours, specifically its Grantour collection that was created for sports car aficionados.”

The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship extends ties of the prestigious Swiss watchmaking market to premier U.S. sports car racing dating back to 1959, when NASCAR Founder and IMSA Co-Founder Bill France Sr. and Rolex formed their initial relationship. Rolex will continue to serve as Title Sponsor of the annual Rolex 24 At Daytona, and Official Timepiece at Sebring International Raceway and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida.

“For years TUDOR has been inspired by motorsports,” said TUDOR Brand Manager Russell Kelly. “This new partnership between TUDOR and IMSA allows us to elevate our commitment to sports car racing. This is the perfect alignment between partners dedicated to performance and precision.”

In 1926, Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf registered “The Tudor” brand and established Montres Tudor SA in 1946. From 2009 to 2011, TUDOR had a partnership with Porsche Motorsports as Timing Partner, and two years later, it began its collaboration with Ducati as global Timing Partner. Its affiliation with the FIA World Endurance Championship — which includes a race in Austin, Texas, alongside the American Le Mans Series race later this month —commenced this year.

“Not only do TUDOR’s brand attributes of performance, prestige and elegance align with the nature and character of endurance sports car racing, but clearly, we are the only form of motorsport in which the race length is determined by time, not distance,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton. “Based on our mutual strengths, a watch and timing partner is a superb match for our series. We’re pleased that TUDOR recognizes that our passionate fans are absolutely the right clientele for them.”

The inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship will debut next January with the 52nd Rolex 24 At Daytona. The complete 2014 schedule will be announced at a later date.

Brown: Dennis would have made same decision on McLaren-Honda split

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Zak Brown believes former McLaren team boss Ron Dennis would have made the same decision to cut ties with struggling Formula 1 engine partner Honda had he still been in charge at the team in 2017.

McLaren executive director Brown helped engineer a deal for the team to split with Honda at the end of the 2017 season after three tough seasons that had seen the Japanese manufacturer offer little in the way of performance or reliability.

The decision split opinion, with McLaren spurning a significant annual financial injection from Honda in order to link up with Renault, believing its on-track fortunes had to be prioritized over its commercial interests.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Brown was asked if he believed Dennis – McLaren’s long-running team chief before stepping down at the end of 2016 – would have made the same decision to cut ties with Honda.

“I think he would have,” Brown said.

“He was here when those conversations were ongoing and I think Ron always has and always will have the best interests of McLaren in his heart.

“He is Mr. McLaren. It burns him inside as much as us not to see us winning races.”

Brown also elaborated on the decision to break off the much-lauded relationship with Honda, saying the first signs of trouble with the 2017 power unit were clear in pre-season.

After a number of attempts to try and rectify the situation, Brown and his fellow team bosses felt there was no alternative but to end the Honda deal for 2018.

“We knew we were in trouble in testing in Barcelona and we worked really hard for six months to try and find solutions that would give us confidence that we’d be much more competitive in 2018,” Brown said.

“Ultimately, after trying many different things and many different ways we felt we couldn’t get there.

“Three years is a long time in Formula 1 and so we needed to change the direction to get our team back at the top.”