01 – Welcome to performance
Welcome to the fifth edition of Performance…
This must be one of our most diverse issues yet!
It would be very easy for us to purely write about our motorsport successes, and although we like to update you on some of the many programmes our customers are involved in, we keep uncovering new areas of our business which we hope make for interesting reading.
In this latest edition we discover the world of Truck racing, the Snowcross World Championship that was held here in Sweden– and we explain our entry into the new exciting world of Downhill Mountainbiking with Specialized!
We also have two interesting vehicles to feature as we went Stateside to talk to the team behind the beautiful Ecosse motorcycles and got under the skin of Roger Clark Motorsport and the curiously named and much talked about Gobstopper 2, a car challenging in the Time Attack series.
We also have an intriguing story from China as we turn the spotlight on the fast growing scene of Motorsport in China. Talking of Motorsport we must also mention another successful participation at the Autosport show early in the year, an event we very much enjoy going to and which is a great start to the season.
In this issue we are also very happy to be able to reward one of our loyal followers with a unique, not for sale, Öhlins watch. We actually have two to give away, one to an existing reader and one new subscriber, so please help us spread the word about Performance!
Enjoy the read!
Marketing Manager – Öhlins Racing AB
02 – A new specialized market for Öhlins…
World renowned in two and four wheel motorsport, Öhlins is now being hailed as the ‘must have’ product in a new genre- Mountain biking!..
In an ambitious partnership with MTB legends Specialized, the yellow shocks now adorn the Californian company’s high-end Downhill and Enduro machines after a rigorous testing programme in Europe and the USA.
The cutting edge Demo 8 and Enduro Evo models are the first wave of bikes to hit the 2,700 Specialized Centres, a fact that is held very proudly at Öhlins HQ in Sweden.
Torkel Sintorn looks after the product development and Racing for the off-road market. He and a team of four engineers headed up the new MTB project.
“Specialized is a very different type of company to what we’re used to working with, they’re a great group of guys with an exciting development programme.
From the beginning they wanted a true partnership with total exclusivity and invited us as a high performance player in the MX sector. They had their own in-house suspension programme for the cross country and Enduro side but wanted us to come in and shake things up to really move on the Downhill market. They clearly want to be No.1 in everything they do and offer the best performance which is what we’ve supplied them with.
The mountain bike market had some good looking ‘trick’ suspension products but what I think we’ve been able to offer is superior ride quality, traction, performance and a fast reacting shock.
The biggest difference has been the traction of the rear wheel onto the dirt. You have to remember with Downhill the bike is moving really quickly over rocks, roots etc but also has to absorb bumps, corners, berms and of course big hits (jumps).
From the very first test our aim was to vastly improve the rear wheel grip which is what the testers told us we achieved. Previously the rear wheel ‘skipped’ about and moved from side to side, we’ve worked hard to eliminate this movement, now the wheels follow each other inline with smooth consistent traction characteristics.
The Enduro Evo model is a different ‘animal’ completely, the shock need to be able to cope with high pedalling efficiency on the uphill sections which characterise this new sector of the sport. There is also a different set-up of the shock with a high speed adjuster to give pedal ‘friendliness’.
Our first big test was in Northern Sweden in October 2012. We used a Scandinavian test team and the guys from Specialized came over- maybe the Californians experienced a bit of climate change!
We then went to their test facility at Morgan Hill (Specialized HQ) where we used black springs, yellow is a little too obvious and there was a high level of secrecy in the US.
It’s fair to say that during the first test there was no real expectation, just good to get some base settings and see that the product worked well. However when we got to the States and their World Cup Downhill racers including Brad Benedict were in action it was clear the pace and the big hits the riders took was far higher than our own testers, but still the shock worked well and we had massive positive feedback.
The World launch of the new bikes was held at the Vale di Sole World Cup Mountainbike Downhill course, now that really was a different level again, it was eye opening and maybe a little scary! Even with experience of World Motocross and Supercross we comprehend the difficulty level of this place.”
With mountainbiking still very much a growth sport, this partnership is extremely exciting for the Öhlins team. For more information about the Specialized range of bikes see www.specialized.com
Five minutes with Specialized Marketing Manager Sam Benedict…
How did you come about creating this relationship with Öhlins?
McAndrews, our Director of Suspension Technologies, has been around moto a long time and has always appreciated the precision and performance of Öhlins. We were trying to figure out how to take the next step in mountain biking performance and an obvious way was an even better, closer suspension relationship with a partner that could really focus on what would give the rider the best experience. So Mick got Öhlins on the phone and we went testing shortly after. That went really well with our in-house Suspension Manager and former World Cup racer, Brad Benedict. He was pretty floored by the gains in performance.
Presumably you were well aware of the Öhlins name through MX?
Yes well aware. MX, MotoGP, Formula 1, dream bikes and cars I like to drool about…
What was your experience of the Öhlins R&D testing procedures?
Super rad! But not that surprising. I didn’t know what the tests were beforehand but I just expected nothing but the best from a company like Öhlins. So even though it was very cool, it just makes sense that product of this quality would go through tests like that… how else would you be able to make suspension this good?
The testing near your base was carried out with black painted springs we hear?!
Ha! To the trained eye, yeah, little too obvious, the yellow and gold is iconic. But you would be surprised how much prototype stuff goes completely unnoticed and we have to test in real life, so black it is!
What was the initial feedback from riders and testers?
Pure grins mixed with a little disbelief. Riders would be coming down, just shredding and super fired up, which we like. The disbelief comes from always have ridden some great shocks before and yet being able to feel a noticeable difference.
How important is the Downhill market and where are the main regions?
Downhill is the pinnacle of speed, performance, precision, and white knuckle-speed. We love it! The riders push so hard, ride so fast, and are willing to try out new things just to gain a few tenths of a second. And that’s what it takes to make great riding bikes, for any type or riding. We learn so much from DH, it’s massively important. The bigger markets are USA, Germany, France, and the UK but there are a lot of DHers in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Columbia, Canada… it’s everywhere now.
And obviously creating suspension for DH and Enduro machines very different, what are the main factors?
The biggest change is that a DH racer is never going to have to pedal up the hill; Enduro riders need fantastic descending performance but also have to get back to the top under their own power. Pedalling is a bigger part of the thought process.
Any future plans with Öhlins?
It all comes down to making the ride the best. I believe working with Öhlins has taken our bikes up a couple of notches and would be super excited to see more bikes with Öhlins on there. Our relationship is one of mutual respect for riding and performance so it works really well and I expect it to get even stronger in the future.
03 – Snow race champions!
With Öhlins Headquarters based in Sweden, it is safe to say the locals know a thing or two about cold weather and deep snow – which probably goes some way to explaining their domination our extremely successful showing at the 2014 FIM Snowcross World Championship!..
Now you might not have heard of Snowcross, (or Snocross as it is also known), before but these 170bhp, 209kg machines form one of the most adrenalin fuelled fields of motorsport in the world. Derived directly from the world of motocross – Snowcross is actually a hybrid of Snowmobile and Motocross – and similar to its two wheeled cousin, Snowcross sees competitors traverse a course consisting of tight turns, banked corners, obstacles and impressively steep jumps. However unlike motocross which is held on dirt, the course is made of compact snow and ice. Perhaps interestingly, many professional motocross riders frequently compete in Snowcross, seeing the sport as a very similar discipline.
Injuries from crashes are commonplace and while the course may be made from snow, it is heavily compacted making a far from soft landing! It is for this reason that competitors use heavy duty motocross body armour which is capable of withstanding the impact.
The FIM Snowcross World Championship held its inaugural competition back in 2004 and has since been held annually, with this year’s event being held near Skellefteå in Northern Sweden. Continuing to grow year on year, the 2014 competition not only saw over seventy of the world’s best Snowcross riders come head to head to compete for the title, but also the first ever FIM Women’s Snowcross World Cup Final. It was a very special event for Öhlins, not only was it held in their native country but they secured all three podium spots in both the men’s and women’s categories!
There can be no denying that Snowcross is an extreme, sometimes dangerous sport. The 925 metre long course that made up the 2014 World Championship race consisted of an incredible 26 jumps, with the longest being over 10m! This adrenalin fuelled sport, coupled with the excitement of the racing saw some 25,000 fans flock to Sweden for the 2014 event.
What is a Snowcross machine though? Well, put simply it’s a standard snowmobile that anyone can purchase and while these machines have been in existence since the 1960’s, it was only in the last two decades that they’ve enjoyed a significant boost in both performance and design. Nowadays, the ‘sleds’ as they’re known among fans vary between 2 and 4 stroke engines of 500-1200cc in size but the most common sleds are 4 stroke machines between 600-800cc producing in the region of 120bhp.
The stresses put upon the skis on a Snowcross machine is unique as there is quite a heavy weight going through these super manoeuvrable blades. Specialised snowmobile performance centres fit four Öhlins S46PR1C2 dampers, two in the ‘buggy’ and one on each ski up front.
Using a well proven mono-tube design with a separate gas pressure reservoir, the chosen shocks feature a large 46mm diameter piston with external high and low speed compression adjustors plus external rebound adjustment. These dampers they also use a snowmobile specific endcap that has an ice scraper lip.
For many people snowmobiles are a practical way of getting around during the winter months and there is an estimated 1.5 million registered ‘sleds’ in the world with 144,601 sold in 2013. However for the elite Snowcross riders, things are a little different as they tune their machines to reach an incredible 170bhp (with a 209kg weight!). There are many different versions of competitive snowmobiles, from the enduro and freestyle machines to drag racing monsters which can reach speeds of over 200mph!
04 – Ecosse – The marque of excellence
How many motorcycle brands can you name? There’s plenty out there – from the big Japanese manufacturers to the iconic European marques, you could probably name quite a few. Chances are though, Ecosse Moto was not one of them…
Based in Denver, Colorado, Ecosse Moto is the brainchild of mechanical engineer and lifelong motorcycle enthusiast Donald Atchison. During the mid-1990’s, Donald held the role of head of Business Development for a local manufacturing firm – a job which saw him spend long periods of time overseas where he would while away the hours of tedious long flights, by sketching images of his ideal street bike.
Over time, these sketches slowly gave birth to the idea of opening an exclusive motorcycle boutique that would offer obscure, high-end furnishings, lighting, apparel, timepieces and motorcycle accessories. Eventually, the idea came to fruition and deciding to take the jump, Atchison began by selling other companies products.
The company’s tagline was one of the first things to be put in place, ‘Exquisitely engineered for a fortunate few’, a motto that sums up Ecosse Moto Works perfectly. Following countless hours of computer-aided and real-world testing, Donald was ready to unveil his first distinctive model, The Heretic. Undergoing three complete prototype iterations before it was launched, The Heretic took in elements from all of Donald’s favourite types of bike and the unique piece of kit has helped Ecosse grow to become a globally recognised brand of premier luxury motorcycles.
Following The Heretic, came the matt black and silver 2-litre handcrafted Iconoclast, which was built exclusively for 20ltd.com. Machined from solid billet aluminium, the engine puts out an impressive 135bhp, while the 4130 Chrome-moly TIG chassis is welded by hand. The Iconoclast is so exclusive, only eleven of these machines were built!
The most recent Ecosse project is the stunning Titanium series, which features a hand-brushed titanium chassis, custom head pipes with internal ceramic coating, and custom titanium mufflers with titanium inlet cone and titanium internal baffles.
A dual-cam, supercharged, intercooled and fuel-injected powerplant boasts an incredible 200bhp at the back wheel, while carbon fibre wheels and bodywork top the machine off to an incredible finish.
The saying ‘good things come to those who wait’ is something that is particularly true for these meticulously built machines. They are designed and built from the ground up and because of this, each machine goes through a lengthy build process. While they have created different limited-edition series of Chrome-moly and Titanium models, the total number of machines built a year remains very low due to it taking upwards of ten months to create!
Regardless of how many are built, Ecosse ensure each model is designed with a distinctive character and soul – painstakingly building them to the highest standards using the best materials available. One feature that has remained the same for each machine however is the gold and yellow suspension units of Öhlins. Wendy Atchinson from Ecosse explains why, “If I’m honest, the simple reason we use Öhlins on all of our machines is because they’re the best we can use and we’re able to customise both the forks and shocks to match our specific needs here at Ecosse. At the very start of the project we were lucky enough to work with the guys direct in Sweden and the support we have received from Öhlins guys in North Carolina, particularly Eric Knight, has been equally amazing!”
What’s in a Name?
The name Ecosse is the French naming of Scotland and the inspiration behind the bike brand is derived from the infamous Scottish racing team, Ecurie Ecosse, who back in the 1950’s were denied a spot in the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours. After some much desperate pleading, the organisers finally relented and awarded them a spot in 1956. With the world writing them off before they had even started, the team pulled off one of the biggest shocks in motorsport going on to beat the established factory Ferrari and Maserati teams and secure victory.
Dismissed as a fluke, they were invited back the following year by virtue of being the reigning winners where they stunned again to successfully defend their title. To the founders of Ecosse Moto Works Inc. the name embodied a relentless desire for excellence – a belief they hold close to themselves.
05 – Motorsport growth in China
Chinese built cars and bikes have a bit of a reputation as being cheap alternatives to the more established global brands – however things are beginning to change as China sets itself up to become a global powerhouse in the automotive world…
In fact, back in 2010 the country became the largest producer of automobiles in the world – a title they haven’t relinquished since as they continue to expand year on year, producing some twenty million cars in 2013 alone.
It is not just Chinese brands that are being produced either. Volkswagen may have been the first globally recognized brand to establish a factory in the country in the late 1970’s, but thanks to cheaper running costs, an increasing number of brands are joining them and creating their own large-scale factories. One such company is Ford who in 2012, with four factories in the country already, selected China as the location for its biggest expansion program in over fifty years, creating a brand new $760 million production line in the Hangzhou region and a $600 million expansion at its Chongquing plant.
As China’s economy continues to grow and people discover previously unseen wealth, the image of small cheap cars is also being shed with the newly established ‘middle-class’ choosing vehicles for looks and performance rather than convenience. This is one of the reasons why the Ford Focus was the fastest selling model in 2013, closely followed by the Volkswagen Golf.
However, despite producing more cars than any other country in the world, China imposes the most stringent restrictions on the purchasing and use of cars in its major cities. For example, in Beijing you can only purchase a car if you are a national of the city and even then you will need proof of a parking space before you are allowed to buy a car. Once you’ve passed those criteria, you will still only be able to use the car on dates that the last digit of your registration plate is allowed to go out!
These might seem like some particularly unfair rules, but with a population of over 21 million and 6.5 million cars already on the road these rules help to prevent further congestion and, more importantly, reduce the dangerously high levels of pollution that plague the city and make it the most polluted city in the world.
Now where there is a growing automobile industry, it is only natural that there is a burgeoning motorsport scene too. So in 1997, China began a comprehensive motorsport program which saw them open their first international circuit, Zhuhai International. Since then, five further tracks have been opened, Guangdong, Shanghai F1, Shanghai Tianma, Beijing and Chengdu which has seen the motorsport industry flourish and the likes of Formula 1 and MotoGP pay visits.
However, prior to 1997 the country had very little involvement in the motorsport world which has meant it has been playing catch-up with the more established Western countries. Things are definitely changing though, an ever increasing number of fans are being attracted to the various motorsport events now being hosted and it is the off-road world that is proving by far to be the most popular.
The biggest of these events has been the Taklimakan Rally, which will enter its ninth year in 2014. With twelve days of intense racing through the vast North Western province of Xinjiang, the rally features over 60 motorcycles and 130 cars competing in the grueling race. Eager to build on this growing support for off-road sport, China’s Motorsport Federation introduced another long distance Off Road event in 2013, mimicking the famous Dakar Rally. The China Grand Rally was held over sixteen days and raced across four of the country’s largest Northern provinces.
Öhlins has played a big part in these off-road events through BG-Performance, who is the supplier of the ORQ off-road Damper products. The product has been so successful that it is now estimated that over 70% of all professional off-road racing cars in China use Öhlins! The BG-Performance team also provide full on-site support at the various meetings such as the Taklimakan Rally, being on hand for fifteen days and servicing over thirty cars.
It is not just the off-road scene that is experiencing a period of rapid growth, the China Touring Car Championship (CTCC) is also undergoing expansion, coupled with a surge in global popularity. The CTCC is split into two different classes, the 2,000cc – which in recent years has been dominated by the factory supported Ford Focus team and the 1,600cc class which is perhaps surprisingly the feature race. Consisting of the best drivers in China, the 1,600cc category is a battle between the Volkswagen Golf and Nissan Tiiada. Öhlins will be expanding further into the CTCC over the coming season using their vast Touring Car experience.
On the two-wheel front, BG-Performance, also being the Öhlins Motorcycle Distributor in China has done a tremendous job in promoting bike sport in the country. BG is the Organiser and Promoter of many of China’s regional SBK Championships in Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Shanghai covering close to 90% of the territory, Hong Kong and Macau. Öhlins reflects its status on the world stage by dominating Greater China’s 2 wheel Racing with approximately covering 95% of all aftermarket suspension.
From 2014 to 2015, China will open another five new Motorsport circuits with two being International Grade “A” with Multiple purposes facilities and three International “B” circuits giving China a total of 11 International level circuits.
With new races, tracks and Championships forming each year, and an increasing number of lower level races for amateur and clubman entries, the motorsport industry in China is growing at an incredible rate and Öhlins is at the very heart of it, offering its expertise and products.
06 – Motorsport Mecca!
If Motorsport is a sort of religion for the British, Autosport International is definitely Mecca for this nation of petrolheads. Boasting some of the World’s most iconic race circuits and an unbroken line of legendary homegrown drivers in F1, there has always been a strong affinity with racing throughout the UK…
However it is as the centre of World Motorsport engineering with the vast majority of Formula One teams and their associated suppliers based there that Britain has really carved a name for itself. The annual Autosport event showcases this thriving industry and gives fans a unique opportunity to get up close to both the machines and their drivers. At a race, teams and drivers are under immense pressure while the various tiers of VIP passes create a barrier to reach them but at the Show the opposite is true, with vehicles and pilots within touching distance, all conducted in a far more relaxed state.
It is to this arena that Öhlins are drawn every year as the team from Sweden make the trip to the Birmingham NEC each January, ably supported by British dealers with their vast experience of the local scene. Renowned for a clean, visually impressive stand and interesting exhibits such as the powerful Volvo Polestar and Prodrive Mini, the Swedes take great pride in their presence at the Show.
This year Öhlins were awarded the award for Best Overseas stand with Show Director Ian France commenting “As a manufacturer of dampers and suspension, Öhlins have showcased their products at the show over many years. We were pleased to award them the prestigious Best Overseas stand for their products across both two and four wheeled motorsport, where they have supplied and worked with many of the leading factory based and privateer teams”.
The Motorsport Industry is indeed a serious and crucially important business to the UK’s economy, boasting an annual turnover of ₤6 billion – of which £3.6 billion is exported (7.2/ 4.3 billion euros). Nearly 5,000 companies are involved in the business and it supports 38,500 full and part-time jobs, of which 25,000 are qualified engineers. Big numbers indeed. Companies from other industry sectors – such as Defence, Marine and Aerospace – have also learned to turn to the motorsport industry when looking to accelerate the solution of their engineering problems and look for a competitive advantage over their competitors.
Although F1 is the obvious pinnacle of the motorsport pyramid, there is such a vast grass roots level of participation, with 34,000 licence holders driving at over 5,000 events each year, that the aftermarket sector is kept incredibly busy making everything from wheels to gearboxes, engine internals to data loggers.
The Show itself houses over 600 exhibitors for the four day show which is split between two trade only and two public days in the vast NEC Arena, with over a million square feet of show space (93,000m²) Highlights for visitors include being able to walk round the grid of latest F1 cars, listen to on stage interviews and gain autographs with the stars of the International and British racing scene whilst being the first to see the latest race car launches, new livery and driver line-ups.
The Live Action Arena seats 5,000 fans and features daily stunt displays from Terry Grant and Freestyle MX jumping, combined with interviews and actual racing from the world of drifting, hot rods and Autograss. The more adventurous visitors can try race Karts and even Caterhams for size.
Uniquely the Show offers a whole section on ‘Careers in Motorsport’ with top universities offering courses and internships with companies such as Red Bull F1!
Marketing Manager for Öhlins, Ola Lennström is a big fan of the Show, saying, “You know the year has started with a bang when the doors open at Autosport for the first time in January!
Every year we are impressed with the passion for Motorsport from both fans and the industry and I personally love spending some time checking out the new innovations and of course the latest driver line-ups. From a commercial point of view the event is very important to us to showcase our latest dampers for both motorsport and road car applications, get feedback and meet our loyal dealers and end users. We’re already planning next year’s visit!”
To see more information about Autosport International visit: www.autosportinternational.com
07 – Keep on truckin’
You might well know the name of Ellen Lohr already, having been a professional racing driver for some 28 years she has competed across a numerous range of world and national championships. Like most top flight drivers her career began at a young age, racing karts. From those humble beginnings she has since gone on to race a huge variety of vehicles, from a Formula Ford in her native German Championship to Formula 3, DTM (winning a race), trucks and has even tried her hand at competing in both the Dakar and German Rally championship…
Now while the sight of the iconic gold and yellow suspension units of Öhlins on a motorcycle or exotic car is commonplace throughout racing paddocks and showrooms around the globe, what might not be so well known is the Swedish suspension manufacturer’s involvement and success in truck racing, namely the European Truck Racing Championship (ETRC).
Considered one of the toughest Truck Championships in the world, Öhlins have won four ETRC titles since the start of the millennium in these 1,000 horsepower plus machines. Two at the hands of Lutz Bernau in 2001 and 2003 and two back to back Championships courtesy of Antonio Albacete in 2005 and 2006. Antonio also went on to finish runner up in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
The European Truck Racing Championship is actually a discipline of motorsport that Ellen knows very well, “I’ve always had a love for all things four wheels,” stated Ellen who turns 50 next year (!) , “and first tried my hand at truck racing back in 1998, where I raced for the Mercedes factory team for a few seasons. At the turn of the century I decided to switch back to touring cars and also try some other disciplines such as rallying but decided to return to the world of truck racing in 2012 and haven’t looked back since!”
Her return to these 18 ton monsters once again came with Mercedes, however their presence had declined, meaning 2012 saw her as one of the few drivers on the grid to actually race with the German brand. Unfortunately for Ellen, the company’s interest in the sport had also waned and the truck that she would be racing was a 2006 model, with just the shell coming from the New Mercedes Actros. This meant that throughout the season she would suffer from an incurable and often severe lack of horsepower when compared to her rivals, making her unable to match or truly compete with the lap times of the leaders, who were all using the latest equipment.
Ellen and her team knew they had to find an alternative way to claw back some precious time over the course of the lap, and with no new model for the 2013 season they decided the best option would be to change the suspension of their trucks. With such a strong pedigree in the sport, turning to Öhlins was the obvious choice for the team and with the help of Gerhard Guenther from Zupin Moto-Sport, they were able to considerably reduce Ellen’s lap time. Gerhard explains a little more, “We hadn’t actually had much experience working on the Mercedes trucks, but we found that they are quite similar to the MAN vehicles we were used to so we built a set of S46HR1C1W dampers for Ellen, basing them on the experience we had winning the titles with Lutz and Antonio in Team TSB.”
“Throughout 2012 I wasn’t happy with the handling and performance of my front axle,” Ellen explains further, “and with the lack of power we knew handling was the only option we had to try and improve our times. We decided to test the Öhlins units that Zupin Moto-Sport has built for us, unfortunately as usual, time was very tight so we couldn’t actually test them properly so the first roll out of the truck was for the official practice at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. We ran them back to back with our existing set and changing nothing else were able to improve the lap time by over half a second, which is a huge step in racing with very little change. It not only improved my lap time, but also my confidence in the truck.”
Unfortunately for Ellen, while she was able to run a stronger pace various problems outside of her control, such as engine failures, prevented her from showing her true potential while her team mate, Dominique Orsini, was able to finish the year in eighth place.
For more on the European series see www.truckracing.de
08 – Time attack!
Time Attack is a relatively new style of motorsport that has been taking the world by storm in recent years. Originating on the race tracks of Japan, Time Attack ignores the traditional head to head style of racing, instead focusing upon the pursuit of the perfect lap – one car, one driver, one track…
Following its introduction in 2006, the UK Time Attack Championship has grown to become the largest and most professional Time Attack Championship in the World – being formally recognised by the UK motorsport governing body, the MotorSport Association, in 2010.
One of the most recognisable names to emanate from Time Attack is world-famous Subaru tuning house, and official Öhlins Centre, Roger Clark Motorsport. Founded in 1991 by the late Roger Clark, himself a highly established rally driver, the company’s first Time Attack vehicle was a highly tuned GC8 Impreza nicknamed ‘Gobstopper’ with which the team secured the 2008 and 2009 titles (along with a whole host of silverware) and made headlines around the world, winning the hearts of fans in the process.
Following several years away, 2014 sees the team make their long awaited full-time return to the UK Time Attack Championship with Gobstopper 2, a car three years in the making. And after two rounds, the car has again made headlines for all the right reasons! We caught up with Matt Clark from Roger Clark Motorsport to find out a little more.
“Time Attack is a special Championship for us, it’s one of the last few motorsport series that allows completely open and unlimited tuning – something that we as a company based around performance tuning can use to show off our skills. In fact, in the tuning world, Time Attack and our old car Gobstopper really put us on the map. We specialise in Subaru, tuning customer’s cars for a whole number of reasons – from drag racing to rallying, racing, track-days and even general road use. We’ve always had a strong customer base, but after winning the title in 2008 and again in 2009 we really set ourselves up as the leaders in Subaru tuning and have customers coming from all over the globe.”
While they might not have completed a full season in Time Attack since their title winning year in 2009, the team at Roger Clark Motorsport have not been resting on their laurels. They spent the interim years expanding the business, moving into a highly impressive facility based in Hinckley, near Leicester. The new facility provided them complete control over the expanding business, enabling them to now control their parts and shipping in-house thanks to a large and efficient storage area, a smart meeting room for presentations and interviews, a big workspace including an engine building room and most importantly their own Dyno room.
“Our new facility is something we’re really proud of,” continued Matt, “it lets us control everything in-house which is something we continue into our racing exploits too. We’re a small team of people, preparing the race car during the week before we all go to each round where my brother Olly actually races the car. This gives us a real family feel, people can see us at the race circuit on Sunday then again Monday morning working on the cars in the workshop.”
Their return to competing full-time in Time Attack follows three years of building the follow up to their Championship winning machine. Gobstopper 2 represents the pinnacle of Subaru power and has already proved popular amongst fans. “We’ve entered the Pro category in this year’s Time Attack Championship. It’s the top category and although we’ll be going head to head with some of the country’s leading car tuners, the Championship is open to anyone as there’s multiple classes that run throughout the weekend, from entry level street classes to the very best of the best.”
“Gobstopper 2 has been some three years in the making and we’ve gone all out to make sure it lives up to its predecessor. That first car has given us so much over the years that we wanted to make sure the next one we rolled out would cause just as much of a stir.Although we’ve started from scratch, the car is more evolution than revolution when compared to the first one.
There is no limit to what you can do in Time Attack, so we’ve boosted power and saved weight in every area possible but in order to achieve the ‘perfect’ lap, you need a car that can handle, which is why we chose to use custom Öhlins TTX46 Coilover units.”
It’s clear from talking to the guys at RCM the passion they have for their vehicles and what sets them apart is their pure openness. There is no hiding away their tricks of the trade, if you need advice they are more than willing to share it and almost every part in the car is available to buy from the team.
The 2014 Time Attack Championship kicked off at April 6th at Silverstone. The Roger Clark Motorsport Team posted an incredible sub one minute lap round the National circuit topping the times with a 58.488 second lap. At the next round in Knockhill, Scotland the team posted the fastest time in each of the four sessions, despite some ‘dodgy’ weather throughout, to take overall victory.
The series has rounds at Snetterton, Cadwell Park, Silverstone and Brands Hatch. For more on Time Attack visit www.timeattack.co.uk and to learn about Roger Clark Motorsport, visit www.rogerclarkmotorsport.co.uk.
Gobstopper II Tech Spec
Weight – 1160kg
Power – 780bhp
Powerplant: RCM 2.0L Race Engine
Drivetrain – 6 speed gearbox with Zytek Paddle Shift system
Brakes – AP Racing 380mm front and 340mm rear
Suspension spec: TTX46 MT MKII, TTX McPherson type dampers as used in WTCC The valving specification is specific to the Gobstopper II and characterised by RCM to suit their requirements with assistance from the special Öhlins VRP (Valve Referencing Programme).
09 – Motorsport round-up – Motorcycle
MotoGP – Marc the Magnificent
The 2014 MotoGP season has been dominated by the 21 year old Repsol Honda sensation Marc Márquez. After stunning the world last season to become the youngest ever premier class Champion and the first rider since Kenny Roberts to win it in his rookie season, Marc has stepped up even further for this year, taking pole position and victory in the first six races!…
It has also been a resurgent start for the ever popular Valentino Rossi. After a slightly lacklustre return to his beloved Yamaha in 2013, which yielded only one victory and five podiums, 2014 has seen the Italian legend be the only man to consistently to take the battle to Márquez, having secured three podiums already. On the other side of the garage, Jorge Lorenzo has suffered an uncharacteristically slow start to year as he struggled to adapt to the new Bridgestone tyres, taking only one podium so far.
In the new ‘Open’ class, CRT champion Aleix Espargaro and the Forward Racing Yamaha have impressed the entire paddock with some breathtaking performances that have seen the young Spaniard take the fight to the Factory machines.
In the lower capacity Moto2 class, it has been a similar story of domination as the Marc VDS duo of Esteve Rabat and Mika Kallio have taken all but one victory so far this season to top the Championship standings by a considerable margin over third place Maverick Viñales.
Almost the entire MotoGP and Moto2 class use the iconic gold and yellow suspension of Öhlins, making the Swedish equipment the weapon of choice for the world’s leading motorcycle racers.
World Superbikes – Rea of sunshine
The opening of the 2014 World Superbike series has been an enthralling affair as four different winners have taken to the podium following the opening five rounds. However, a victory in the second race at Assen followed up with a stunning double at the iconic Imola circuit saw Jonathan Rea top the Championship standings on his Pata Honda, before being overtaken by a resurgent Tom Sykes at Donington Park.
2013 British Superbike Champion Alex Lowes started the year with plenty of incidents but has now taken podiums in both the Dutch and UK rounds.
Between the Hedges…
It was a phenomenal start to the Road Racing season for Öhlins as BMW new boy Michael Dunlop and his older brother William took both Superbike victories at the North West 200. Michael backed this up with the opening Superbike victory at the iconic Isle of Man TT. He lines up alongside a star studded array of riders using the Swedish equipment at the including Guy Martin, Ian Hutchinson, Josh Brookes and Conor Cummins…
Once again, Öhlins have enjoyed a successful start to the racing season across the world’s leading domestic two wheel championships.
In the British Superbike Championship, Australian Josh Brookes has switched to Yamaha power and joined the Milwaukee team to fill the James Ellison vacated seat as he bids to secure that elusive crown which has evaded him. The most recent round at Oulton Park saw Brookes take the win and a new lap record. Ellison moved to the GBmoto Kawasaki team who have also signed veteran racer Chris Walker, with the duo both enjoying podium success already.
Over in America, the Öhlins shod Monster Energy Yamaha team are once again looking the dominant force as Cameron Beaubier tops the AMA Superbike standings, however snapping at his heels is Roger Hayden, brother of MotoGP star Nicky, on the Yoshimura Suzuki. Triumph won the 73rd running of the Daytona 200 with Danny Eslick, giving the British brand its first win in the event since Gary Nixon, 47 years ago.
In the German IDM series, new team 3C-Racing have set about proving the qualities of the Ducati 1199 Panigale R as their riders Xavi Forés and Max Neukirchner took a stunning 1-2 double in the opening race at Lausitz.
In the French SBK series, Kawasaki SRC Rider Gregory Leblanc has taken three out of four race wins so far at Le Mans and Nogaro. For a nation passionate about ‘Endurance’ maybe an even more important achievement is the team’s third consecutive Bol d’Or victory with the 24-Hour race being won by Leblanc, Matthieu Lagrive and Nicolas Salchaud.
Matteo Baiocco has taken the early lead in the Italian CIV series, predictably enough on a fire engine red Ducati Panigale, entered by the Grandi Corse squad.
10 – Motorsport round-up – Automotive
There is a buzz around Rallycross in 2014. Two rounds into the new for 2014 World Rallycross championship there is a distinct buss around the sport. The second round at Lydden Hill attracted a record 38 entries in the top…
Dirt’s on the up
There is a buzz around Rallycross in 2014. Two rounds into the new for 2014 World Rallycross championship there is a distinct buss around the sport. The second round at Lydden Hill attracted a record 38 entries in the top Supercar category. No wonder given the fact the cars are four wheel drive 600 bhp monsters driven on tight tracks run on both gravel and asphalt and in short action packed sprint heats. This is then an area where Öhlins expertise is used and Öhlins together with Öhlins Auto Nordic has developed a number of competitive products. After the first two rounds Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta driver Andreas Bakkerud heads the standings after winning the second round at Lydden Hill in an Öhlins 1-2-3 to follow up on his second place in the season opener in Portugal. The championship now heads to the intriguely named Hell in Norway for the third round. More information about the series at www.rallycrossrx.com
Marc VDS shows top form ahead of Nürburgring 24 hours and GT success in Blancpain
The weekend of June 20-22 is all about speed at Nürburgring. That is when the classic Nürburgring 24 hours is held this year and the BMW Z4 GT3 of Marc VDS, last year’s runner up, has shown top form. With a win in the third VLN-race at Nürburgring and a second place in the fourth VLN-race they have established themselves as a pre-race favourite for the 24-hour race coming up next at the track.
Speaking of GT the Blancpain GT series saw ART Grand Prix win the first round in their McLaren MP4-12C at Monza. At the fourth round newcomers M-Sport took a popular and surprising win in the newest GT3-car, the impressive looking Bentley Continental GT3
The great battle of Le Mans 24 hours!
Fans of 24-hour racing will have the month of June marked as a favourite. The weekend before Nürburgring 24 hours the racing classic Le Mans 24 hours is held. With 14 straight overall victories thanks to the success of its customers Öhlins has high hopes for another success.
Toyota has shown some very strong promise by winning the two opening rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship at Silverstone and Spa. This has put Anthony Davidson and Nicolas Lapierre at the top of the standings heading into the 24-hour week at Le Mans in June. Will they put one over Le Mans masters Audi this year?
French dominance in touring cars
The Citroën C-Elysée WTCC are not only fantastic looking, they are also the dominant car in WTCC at the moment. They have taken an almost clean sweep of the races so far and the three Citrën drivers José Maria López, Yvan Muller and 9-time World Rally champion Sébastien Loeb is comfortably at the top of the standings after the first five rounds of the championship.
First Peugeot R5 win
The new R5 rally category is an interesting one, made for national and international rallying in high powered 4WD rally cars just a spec or two below the WRC-cars. One of the lastest additions to the R5 category is the Peugeot 208 R5 which has already proven to be successful. In the hands of Paolo Andreucci and Anna Andreussi it won the Targa Lorio rally. This was the cars second win after having also won in Greece. And the car is still in the testing phase!
Volvo impresses down under
Right from the start the Volvo Polestar Garry Rogers team has impressed as the Swedish marque made its debut in the cut throat world of V8 Supercars in Australia. A popular and memorable second place already in the first weekend in Adelaide by Scott McLaughlin has been followed up with several front rows and podium positions including two wins – the first in the non-championship round in Melbourne and the second win came in round 14 at Perth. McLaughlin currently holds seventh overall in the standings after the first five race weekends.
We finish off with a look at Japan and Super Formula – the top category of racing in Japan and with the new car for this year the fastest single seater series outside Formula 1. Öhlins Japanese distributor Carozzeria is a well-known supplier for the teams in this series. Two rounds of the seven round championship has been held and after the rounds at Suzukia and Fuji speedway Loic Duval heads the standings ahead of Andre Lotterer, both also part of the Audi Sport Le Mans-squad.