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Firestone calls off IndyCar exit

Firestone tyresFirestone has reversed its decision to pull out of the IndyCar series at the end of the season and will now stay on for at least a further two years.

The tyre firm had recently declared that it would withdraw from its role as the championship's sole supplier, 16 years after it returned to American single-seater racing in Champ Car.

Firestone's exit was met with dismay by the IndyCar teams - particularly as the championship will introduce new technical rules next season and wants to be testing 2012 designs by mid-season.

In a teams' meeting earlier this week it was agreed to do whatever was necessary to entice Firestone to stay, and it now appears those efforts were successful, with Firestone announcing today that it will continue to supply IndyCar not just next year but through 2013 as well.

Series boss Randy Bernard said the teams' determination to keep Firestone was a crucial element.

"At the end of last week, we had reached the deadline where both organisations had to make a decision regarding the future to prepare our individual operations for the long term," he said. "This is one of those decisions that it is imperative that you have the team owners 100 per cent behind you. Early this week we called a meeting to walk the team owners through the process and hear their input. I'm happy to say we walk as one with Firestone.

"We feel that this new supply agreement will benefit everyone. It provides a proven safe and reliable Firestone product for the transition to the all-new cars for 2012. We have to thank everyone at Firestone for working with us to help ensure the best for the long-term growth of our sport."

Firestone's racing boss Al Speyer said he was pleased that an agreement had been reached.

"While we've reached the pinnacle of success in the IndyCar racing, we're happy to extend our relationship with the IZOD IndyCar Series through 2013, and to continue our winning partnership," he said. "Meanwhile, we will continue to evaluate all options for promoting the Firestone brand inside and outside of motorsports, as the Firestone brand is a very important part of our business."

The new agreement only covers IndyCar. Firestone has been title sponsor and tyre supplier to feeder category Indy Lights, but still intends to leave this series at the end of the year.

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