01 – Welcome to performance
Welcome to the sixth edition of Performance magazine!…
This time of the year is always a bit special as we look back and are amazed at how many motorsport titles have been won by our customers on both two and four wheels, in International as well as National championships around the world. We simply just don’t have enough room to write about all of them but many are referenced in our car and bike motorsport round up.
Obvious highlights are of course clean sweeps in MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 as well as World Superbike and World Supersport. Many national titles and successes in Isle of Man must of course be mentioned.
On four wheels we had our 15th straight overall win in the Le Mans 24 HR, thanks to the Audi squad while Toyota wrapped up the Championship crowns in WEC, whilst Citroën dominated WTCC, with our other customers also winning races. We also saw National and European success in the world of Rallying and in the World Rallycross Championship our teams had another successful year.
We have quite a few other stories in this issue we hope you find interesting… the story of the unique Ariel car and bike programme, the World’s fastest electric bike, Renault’s attack on the ‘Ring with their production Megane, the rough and ready world of quad desert racing and finally an insight into our Road and Track range.
In our last issue we had a competition where two lucky subscribers received an Öhlins watch, congratulations to Jon Bokrantz of Sweden and Richard Watson of Ireland. Following this issue we will ask you to complete a survey we are carrying out. In our quest to improve we would like to have your feedback on our products and Öhlins as a brand through an e-mail survey. We hope you will take the time to answer this and as a thank you for your effort we will offer the chance to win one iPad Mini for one lucky respondent.
Enjoy this issue and we want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Marketing Manager – Öhlins Racing AB
02 – Project ‘Under8’ from Renault
Nürburgring, The “Ring”, Nordschleife, The Green Hell. . .whatever you prefer to call it, one thing is certain – there is no other circuit in the world that offers such an incredible challenge to man and machine. With over 70 corners, 300 meters of elevation, giant curbs, jumps, varying surfaces and long fast straights, there is quite possibly no other circuit on this planet that can test a car to its ultimate limit like Nordschleife…
The 20,830 meter long track is essentially a public road, and as such is open to the public as well as being used for racing with many motorsport enthusiasts make the pilgrimage, testing themselves against the clock, or simply to sample the most legendary of all circuits. It is also where car manufacturers test their latest machinery to the limit and beyond. A very intriguing unofficial competition is the race against the clock in road-based machinery.
This challenge has spread throughout the ranks of manufacturers, the prize – legendary status for the car, the driver, and rights to possibly the ultimate marketing status, the claim to be the fastest over one lap of The Green Hell.
Over the years, Porsches, Ferraris, and other exotica have competed for the outright fastest lap. However, not to be outdone, more recent times have seen the latest breed of hot hatches take to the track in the search for the ultimate honors. It is perhaps best to replace the ‘hot’ in hot hatch with ‘super’ such is the vast performance being delivered by the latest incarnation of these cars. Incredible power, lightweight and with technologically advanced chassis, ‘super’ hatches have delivered some incredible lap times. Current front wheel drive record holder is the awesome RenaultSport Megane R.S Trophy-R with a barely believable 7min 54second lap.
Renault Sport is no stranger to Nordschleife having, in 2008, achieved a record breaking lap with the previous incarnation Megane, the R.26R. The time then was an impressive benchmark for a front wheel drive car of 8 min 17 seconds.
Renault Sport’s has channeled everything it knows into its latest incarnation, the Megane R.S 275 Trophy. The numerals in the title indicating just how much power the delivers. Power can corrupt and Megane delivers a significant amount of torque and horsepower through the front wheels, an amount that requires a high competent chassis to deliver traction. Alongside an impressive spec sheet it comes as no surprise that Renault Sport has looked to Öhlins for its shock absorbers.
The car is no track only racer nor is it likely to be kept in an air-conditioned private garage as a museum piece. No, the Megane R.S is an everyday road car that just happens to be able to boast capabilities that would shame many a supercar around a track. The ‘numbers’ for the Trophy-R line up as so; 275bhp at 5,500 rpm, 360Nm of torque, a 255kph top speed and 0-100kph in 5.8 seconds.
However what is possibly just as impressive is that this Euro 5 Emission meeting petrol powered machine offers the latest ‘Start-Stop’ technology and impressive 45mpg fuel consumption. However we doubt that was achieved on this particular run-around the Ring!
The car distributes its 1297kg in a 66-34% weight bias front to rear with nineteen inch wheels running 235/35 tyres.
The reason why cars are tested at the Nordschleife is that unlike any other circuit it presents a massive variety of corners and demands which mean only the best chassis are able to provide the control and finesse needed to build a fast time. This is where the Öhlins Road & Track shock absorber plays a vital part. With the Megane delivering 275bhp through its front wheels, getting this power down onto the road early and effectively is vital to getting maximum drive out of the corners. Good damping characteristics can provide the control needed to achieve this. It’s equally important for a car to maintain stability under heavy braking over uneven surfaces, something which is not unusual at the ‘Ring, and something we are all familiar with on the open road. To deliver control under heavy braking and retain the ability to change direction quickly helps carry speed through the corners. On a track as demanding as Nordschleife it’s also vital the driver feels he is always in control, has the grip he needs and can predict what the car and chassis will do.The Megane relies heavily on its chassis and in particular the Öhlins Road & Track shock absorber to deliver its performance.
The impressive specification of the Öhlins Road & Track shocks go a long way to explaining why the Megane achieved such an impressive lap time. In more detail – the Öhlins Road & Track shock absorber is a high performing club sports kit with a unique feature, the Dual Flow Valve. The DFV is a high speed valve similar to the blow off valves used in Öhlins motorsport products but with the unique feature that it works on both compression and rebound flows. This valve helps the oil in the shock absorber to flow through the compression and rebound ports in the Dual Flow Valve. Because the DFV opens more quickly and easily over bumps and minor road imperfections in both strokes of the shock absorber this helps maintaining the tire contact with the road and thus increases the grip and traction.
How does this track performance relate to the road? The Öhlins Road & Track shock absorber has proven itself on one of the most challenging racetracks in the world, a track that manufacturers use to develop and refine their cars to deal with the most unforgiving roads the UK can deliver. Öhlins Road & Track does not compromise, delivering outstanding performance regardless of the conditions. As Öhlins engineers say ‘The ground gives better traction than air’. For more information on Öhlins Road&Track suspension, visit – www.roadandtrackbyohlins.com.
The result was a new lap record for front wheel drive cars around Nordschleife and Renault Sport raised the bar for what is capable to achieve with hot hatch backs.
5 minutes with Jean-Maxime Boulanger, Mégane R.S. Product Manager
What does this record mean to the team at Renault Sport?
The record proves the know-how of Renault Sport Technologies. What is important is that our competitors are still testing their current and future cars at the Nordschleife, so Renault Sport thinks it relevant to keep on fighting on this track and this record shows we have the best car in the front-wheel drive category.
How confident were the team in advance of their attack on the Nordschleife?
Renault Sport’s ‘wizards’ always push for the best results on each new model and with even more priority with a technical limited edition such as the Trophy-R. We have been ‘King of the Ring’ for six years and even as competitors push harder, we were confident about this time attack because Renault Sport and its partners put in a massive effort on this brand new radical car.
Does this sort of exciting activity help future development of high performance road cars (and how)?
We are used to working on very cutting edge technologies and improving motorsport knowledge (single seater cars for World Series by Renault or rally cars for example). Each technical item from the motorsport department that could be used and adapted to road legal use is utilised in our global product plan. For example Öhlins was a Mégane N4 partner and becomes naturally a road legal car partner on the Trophy & Trophy-R limited editions this year.
What has been the reaction been from fans of the brand and dealer/distributors?
We have a strong Renault Sport Community all-around the world and proud to communicate to our 400 000 fans on Facebook pages. When we started the #under8 communication teaser two months before the time attack reveal, people were very enthusiast and had already guessed that Renault Sport was back at the Ring. From April to June, dealers and distributors were truly submerged by people’s curiosity. All of these would know what car and of course the result! Thanks to this new record, Trophy-R was sold out less than 3 weeks.
How did you choose your partners for this project?
RST wants the best on its project cars. We have true know-how about chassis, performance and driving pleasure but as we always can do it better, we focused on exciting items such as chassis, sound and materials to improve.
Öhlins is one of the best worldwide well-known shock absorber suppliers for road and track so that was an obvious decision.
How crucial was the chassis / suspension selection to gain the record yet still be able to utilise the RS as a road car?
That is the global Trophy-R genesis ! Our radical car is maybe a record killer but remains a road legal one. This hurdle cannot be handled by many competitors but Renault Sport still did it and with the R26.R previously
And finally if the record is threatened, will you go back to ‘The Ring’ for another attack?
We will see when the time comes…
Click here to view the tech spec
03 – From pole to desert by quad!
When you think of off-road racing, chances are the first images that spring to mind are motocross bikes sailing through the air or rally cars rounding corners in a cloud of dust. For Polish born Rafal Sonik, he thinks of just one thing – Quad bikes…
That would be because Rafal is one of the world’s most successful quad racers, having secured the FIM Rally World Cup on three separate occasions. A successful name at the iconic Dakar rally, Sonik also became the first Pole rider to ever take a podium, when he finished in third place in 2009. Following that up with a further third place finish in 2013, 2014 saw him take a step higher when he completed the gruelling 8,500km race as the runner up- with his sights firmly on securing victory next January.
Sonik’s weapon of choice is the formidable Yamaha Raptor 700, an incredible 700cc, 52bhp machine that features Öhlins TTX30 shocks at the front (built straight from a kit system) while a single Öhlins S46P R1C1 shock sits at the back (there was no room for a twin tube).
“I consider myself an incredibly lucky guy as my job is to do what I love.” said Rafal, “Although it’s certainly taken a lot of extremely hard work to get to the position we are at now. I have a team of highly experienced and trustworthy people around me, and it’s thanks to all their hard work that I can commit to my passion. Sport was always in my life, first it was my great love – skiing, then tennis, windsurfing, aviation…I loved it all but then I got hooked by cross-country rallies and from there they took my heart entirely. The adrenalin, the pace, the speed and most of all the stunning places from all around the world I get to see that that only small group of people have ever been too”
His team is a vital part of his success, with his Yamaha ATV suspension being prepped and looked after by the guys at Mick Gardner Racing. Owner Russ Walton explains how they got into the world of off-road quads, “In 2006 we got into quads in a big way, the UK market was booming and we started having lots of manufacturer work with both Yamaha and Honda. Rafal came over and Richard Cole, who is a multi-British Champion, was giving him tuition but Rafal will be the first to admit that at that stage he was at a fairly low level. We ended up doing a project with him on a Raptor 700, and he stuck at the quads, training regularly in the dunes and visiting Dubai to practice regularly. We didn’t see each other for a few years but when I went back a couple of years ago it was almost unbelievable how much better he was, he had totally transformed as a rider.”
“We call him the ‘King of Krakow’ he’s not struggling for money and his aim in life is to win the Dakar!”
It is no easy feat to win the Dakar, but after finishing up second place in January this year, Rafal has gone on to have one of his most successful years to date. Winning the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the Sardegna Rally and the Pharaohs Rally – as well as his third FIM World Cup. “To win my third FIM World Cup this year was amazing and I am more than happy! This one tasted totally different to the previous two, because now I feel that I can say I am fully comprehensive rider. We’ve proven we can win the rally in the dunes, rocky areas, mountains of Sardegna or Brazil and to be honest, only misfortune has stopped me this year.
Although I feel strong and the best I’ve ever been, it’s certainly not been an easy ride and I have huge respect to my rivals and to the tough terrain that we are riding. The desert doesn’t forgive as they say!”
“I’ve worked with my mechanic for over seven years now and because of that he knows exactly what I need, even though on each rally we are always changing something in a quad! We constantly try to improve it, and the biggest factor comes from working on the suspension. Jarek Zajac is an absolute master of adjusting suspension according to the terrain but of course he needs to have appropriate technology to work with and we’ve found that by using Öhlins- I can be sure that my Yamaha will work perfectly on each part of the special stage.”
The set up needed to compete at the very front of the Dakar is like no other Motorsport in the world. Russ explains further, “We spend a lot of our time setting up the Quad for desert racing. They take spare shocks with them, fully serviced because in these events and level obviously you can’t afford DNF’s – luckily we have a very good reliability record!
The Yamaha that Rafal uses is a totally different set-up to any other quad – the bike is very heavy, and they run dual fuel cells as well as sat-nav and all the kit. That’s before they then have to ride 100’s of km a day so they also need to carry spare wheels, lights, a tool kit – by the end, the bike weighs almost double its original weight!
You’d expect to go double on the spring rate with all that weight, but that leads to the bike being very stiff and harsh, and would make arm pump a real problem. So we try and use a stiffer spring, set-up relatively soft but with a high-preload and match the valving – we go quite stiff on the clicker but soft valving in the shocks themselves, which is the opposite to what people might expect. We also have to look carefully at pitch control and roll control, you need to absorb bumps and react quickly but at the same time still be responsive in the sharper turns.”
The Mick Gardner team certainly know what they are doing, also running Supermoto winner Craig Killner as well as collaborating with some of the most talented riders in the ATV segment, including Pat Brown and Bill Ballance.
As one of Poland’s most successful Motorsport stars, Rafal concluded “Motorsport in Poland is growing massively in the last decade. We have Robert Kubica (first F1, now WRC), Taddy Blazusiak the best ever World Enduro/ Extreme Enduro rider and numerous drivers in cross-country. This year we actually had three Polish cars in the first 10 of the Dakar classification! We are also getting the interest of media in Poland and people are starting to talk about the class of Polish drivers and pilots. This year we had one of the rounds of WRC during the Rally of Poland and Baja Poland which was the 8th round of FIA cross-country World Cup – the future is certainly bright and you better watch for us! The Poles are coming!”
04 – Road and Track suspension – developed for street and circuit
What’s the most important part of a performance car? Many people might say the engine. Of course, without an abundance of power, a car will struggle to earn the performance title…
But what about harnessing that power? Without a chassis to match the engine, all the raw horsepower in the world will be for nothing. If your car’s suspension can’t keep the tires in contact with the road all the time, how can the engine transfer its power to the tarmac?
Of course, most modern performance cars are built with excellent chassis and suspension systems. But just as with the engine, brakes and tires, improvements and optimizations can be made. And even more importantly, if you do increase the performance from your engine, perhaps with an ECU remap or a new sports exhaust – then you should upgrade the other parts to suit.
It’s the same story with grippier tires, or more powerful brakes: if you don’t also extend the performance of your suspension system, the improved chassis parts can be overshadowed, canceling out at least part of any performance gains elsewhere.
Here at Öhlins, we know all about performance. We’ve been developing suspension for the world’s finest race and sports cars in the world for over 35 years.
From the rarified world of Formula One through the glory of Le Mans and sports cars racing, touring cars and single seaters down to the controlled chaos of WRC and Rallycross, we’ve built suspension systems to win in the toughest of conditions. And all the while we’re working hard to transfer the cutting-edge technology we develop there into our road car products. For us, that’s the whole point of competition – improving the breed and forcing us to work harder to make our suspension work better.
The result? Our Road and Track range of suspension upgrade packages. Aimed at the more discerning performance driver. Designed for a wide range of today’s fast cars. And at an affordable cost. Öhlins’ Road and Track shocks take the best of our competition know-how, and puts it into a package that’s aimed at drivers who love the track and track days, but still spend most of their time on the road. A package that boasts Öhlins’ DFV Dual-Flow Valve technology, for superior wheel control under the most arduous of drives. That adapts automatically to heat buildup with temperature-variable damping needles. That is easily and quickly adjusted to swap between road and track setups. A package that can be fitted to most cars for less than the cost of a set of nice-looking new alloy wheels…
Öhlins’ Road and Track range is aimed at the cars you love, the cars you drive. Cars like the legendary fun-driving VW Golf GTI, through to pure driver’s cars like BMW’s M3, Toyota’s GT86, Mazda’s MX-5, RX-7 and RX-8. The Porsche 911 has a special place in any performance fan’s heart, and we’ve worked hard on our range for the Stuttgart masterpiece. From the 996 Carrera through the Turbo and Turbo S right up to the 997 range: Carrera, Turbo, and the mighty GT2 and GT3 RS. The wild rally replicas aren’t left out either: Subaru’s Impreza and Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evo have several fitting options.
We don’t leave you behind once your shocks are installed though. Each Road and Track kit comes with full operating and adjusting instructions, with suggested setups for comfort, fast road and track use. Altering the suspension settings is simplicity itself: a few turns of the supplied adjusting tools can alter rebound & compression damping settings. We’ve made it as simple as possible here, instead of working with multi-adjusters we have used a clever technology to have just one adjuster for both rebound and compression. In combination with the smart DFV technology this makes it a four-way adjustable shock through just one adjuster. Why? We think you’d rather spend your time on a track day driving, than chasing suspension settings! And it’s easy to go back to the original setting for the drive back home. Click here for more info, full fitment list, installation instructions and user guides.
Finally, performance isn’t just about how something works when new. We make out shocks street-tough to last for the long run. Shock bodies are salt-spray tested for durability, damper shafts are micro-finished and honed for low friction and ultimate toughness. Aluminium parts are anodized, and all materials are chosen for their longevity as well as performance. Even if you do manage to wear out an Öhlins shock, all our units are fully serviceable and rebuildable. That way we can ensure you can get the as-new performance you, and your car, needs and deserves.
DFV Technology explained
Our DFV damping technology sounds complicated. But it’s really pretty simple. And it has one job – to keep your wheels in contact with the ground as much as possible, no matter what.
Unlike other competitor shocks, Öhlins’ DFV technology has not one, not two, but three ways for damping fluid to flow inside the shock.
It’s like the doors at a shopping mall. On a normal weekday, there’s a big revolving door that lets a steady stream of people in and out without any holdups. That’s like the DFV shock’s central shaft jet bleed, and it deals mostly with low-speed damping, such as when you accelerate, and the car’s weight is transferred off the front wheels and onto the back.
But at the shopping mall, there’s a big rush of people each Saturday, coming in to shop. Then, the revolving door can’t cope so well, and the crowds can’t get through. So the mall staff will open the normal doors either side of the revolving door, to release the pressure from the crowds. That’s what the ports in our DFV shock’s piston do, when there’s a sudden wheel movement, like hitting a bump. The piston ports open, and allow more damping fluid through, letting the wheel move more quickly, but still under control.
What happens at our shopping mall during the New Year sales? The crowds are incredible, and neither the revolving door, nor the normal doors either side can cope with the numbers of people trying to flow through and into the shops. So the security team will open the fire exit doors to allow even more people through. That’s like our DFV shock when the wheel hits a very large bump or pothole. Then the extra ports in the DFV unit open, allowing oil another route through the damping circuit. So like the shoppers getting to the bargains, the DFV shock can move very fast, allowing the wheel to return quickly to the ground after a bump, and regain its grip on the asphalt. Simple, isn’t it?
Figure 1: (Compression flow) At low shaft speeds, oil flows mostly through the shaft jet bleed (lower dotted arrow). At higher shaft speeds, oil flows mostly through the compression ports in the piston (upper dotted arrow). At very high shaft speeds, or during sudden shaft accelerations, oil can also escape through the compression ports in the DFV, increasing comfort.
Figure 2: (Rebound flow) At low shaft speeds, oil flows mostly through the shaft jet bleed (lower dotted arrow). At higher shaft speeds, oil flows mostly through the rebound ports in the piston (upper dotted arrow). At very high shaft speeds, or during sudden shaft accelerations, oil can also escape through the rebound ports in the DFV, maintaining tyre contact with the road.
05 – Ariel – 2 and 4 wheel tailored engineering
Now the recent revival of the Ariel name in motorcycling has got a lot of people excited but the company (which dates back to the 1870’s) has been making headlines in the four wheel world for quite some time…
Ariel actually began by manufacturing revolutionary bicycles, including the 48” front wheel Ordinary or ‘Penny Farthing’ that had the first and patented tensioned spoke wheel. As the automotive industry was born, Ariel moved into the field to quickly establish themselves as class leaders. Producing their first powered vehicle shortly before the turn of the century, the Ariel Tricycle featured a De Dion engine and was followed by a Quadricycle option.
Continuing to grow during the early 1900’s, Ariel produced road and race cars, competing at the first ever Brooklands race and also moved into the world of two wheels, an area they would become most famous for. The first motorcycle produced by the Birmingham based company was in introduced in 1901, powered by a Minerva engine with a capacity of 211cc. Ariel progressed to larger capacity single cylinder and V twin machines with 500cc singles dominating production until the mid 1920’s.
As car production took a backseat, Ariel continued to build revolutionary motorcycles. from the 1931 Square 4 to the two stroke Ariel Arrow. Unfortunately Ariel just could not keep up with the might of the Japanese brands, and the company was absorbed into BSA, later to become Norton Villiers Triumph.
The Atom Age
After laying dormant for years, remaining an almost forgotten icon of British engineering, the Ariel name was resurrected in 1999 by Simon Saunders. Welcoming in the new millennium with the incredible Ariel Atom car, the company was placed firmly back on the map. Undergoing multiple updates over the past 14 years, the latest version, the Ariel Atom 3.5R, features a sequential gearbox, paddle change system, uprated suspension and new bodywork compared to its predecessors.
But it is not just the looks which make this the company’s most advanced vehicle yet…
“It’s powered by a Honda Civic Type-R 2.0 litre iVTEC engine that we’ve tuned in house at our Ariel factory in Somerset.” said Simon, “We’ve had over ten years experience of supercharging the Honda K20 engine and have developed a charge cooling system that allows supercharger boost to be taken from 7.5psi to 11. In the Atom 3.5R this means the engine now produces an incredible 350bhp and over 330Nm of torque!”
Coupling that power with the now legendary Ariel reliability means the Atom 3.5R is certainly a force not to be messed with. “Drive comes via a new Sadev six speed sequential race gearbox which has adjustable limited slip differential and different gear sets that we can tailor to suit each clients need. We use a pneumatic paddle shift system which can make upshifts in less than 40 milliseconds and downshifts in less than 50.”
Boasting these impressive figures, it is only natural that people will want to test the Atom 3.5R on track. With optional twin side pods that house the charge cooler on one side and an Ariel developed remote oil cooler system on the other, the inlet and engine temperatures can be maintained even under the hardest of track use. A set of Öhlins TTX36 dampers, that were designed and valved specifically for the Atom, come with a choice of optimised springs for road, track or race use.
“We have used Öhlins with great success on the Atom race cars we use in the Atom Cup series,” continued Simon, “So it made sense to transfer that over by using the TTX dampers on the 3.5R model. Obviously on track we want supreme handling, but our interest does not lie solely in that as we value having compliance, comfort and handling on the road – which is why the Öhlins units are perfect for the Atom as they tick every box. To do that though, particularly on such a lightweight car, is far from easy and its only through our long term development and latest technology that we’ve been able to be right at the front of sports car suspension.”
With a 0-60mph speed of 2.5s and a 0-100mph in six, the Atom is certainly at the front of sports car development. However the Ariel name has always been linked to motorcycles so it was only natural that the resurrected brand would turn their attention to two wheels…
ACE- Back to two wheels!
“It started back in 2007 really, we always wanted to build a motorcycle, so we bought a few machines and began testing them, throwing some ideas around and seeing what we could do. We have enjoyed a long and successful partnership with Honda through the Atom so we wanted to continue that with the motorcycle. We knew about the new Honda V4 in the forthcoming VFR1200 and it fitted with everything we wanted from an engine.”
“We spent a long time on the frame, we knew that we did not want to use a standard trellis frame and actually spent a long time considering if we could use a carbon one. However while it might be put to good use in racing, it has never been tested properly on the road, so that idea was put on hold for the moment.”
“We design absolutely everything in-house, so it took a while to get the Ace to the levels we expect, and with just the frame taking over 70 hours to machine, the build process is quite lengthy too. What makes us unique however is that the way we build our products allows us to tailor and fit each one to each individual customer.”
Different forks for different folks
One of the most unique elements to the project was the choice between two completely different ‘front ends’ – traditional telescopic forks and the unique Ariel girder front end. Made from machined aluminium the Ariel girder forks give an option to standard telescopic forks and result in better handling, feel and sensitivity but at the same time feel familiar to any motorcycle rider.
To achieve this kinematics (movement of the wheel through its suspension travel) and wheel rate (spring rate measured at wheel contact patch) had to closely match that of a telescopic fork suspension system.. Featuring the latest Öhlins TTX dampers and springs which offer separate rebound and compression damping, together with spring preload, the Ariel girder system can be set up by owners to provide the exact level of response for their own particular needs and riding style. The choice of more ‘orthodox’ suspension is supplied by Öhlins Road & Track forks tailored specifically for the Ace. AT the rear end the Pro Link single sided cast aluminium swing arm, is equipped with a TTX rear shock. The entire suspension project was overseen by UK Öhlins Centre Mick Gardner Racing who assisted with testing and valving specifications.
Other options include variants on low and high seats (with pillion options), different tank sizes, handlebars, wheels, exhausts, bodywork as well as the vast colour, finish and material choices that come with the Atom.
Concluding, Simon said, “Motorcyclists have a real passion for their machines. They like them to be individual and become ‘their own’ bike, not just another one identical to thousands of others. Each Ace we produce will be as individual as the owner and we have countless possibilities to build a completely bespoke final product.”
Paraded at Brands Hatch British Superbikes by ex Champion Tommy Hill, and raced up the iconic Goodwood Hill, the Ace has certainly turned heads wherever it has been shown, with orders for this unique £20,000 machine rolling in.
For more on both the Atom and Ace see www.arielmotor.co.uk
06 – Lightning strikes fastest!
Having been involved in the research and manufacturing of electric motorcycles for over six years, Lightning Motors were the first company to bring a truly electric Superbike to the consumer market, with their journey starting back in 2006, when Lithium battery technology became a viable solution to power motorcycles. Taking an old Yamaha R1, the Lightning team converted the machine to electric power, with it putting out over 60bhp, almost 70ft-lb of torque and immediately had a top speed of 100mph!..
Despite the Lightning R1 being a raw prototype, it still had a range of 60 miles and thanks to its considerable media attention from the two wheeled community, was considered as the catalyst that sparked the electric motorcycle scene – including the now famous TT Zero race at the Isle of Man TT.
Following the R1, Lightning Motors went on to build the world’s first PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) capable of exceeding 40 miles in EV mode on one charge, as well as the first ever Lithium ATV. But it was October 2009 when the Lightning team really hit the headlines, breaking the world record for electric bikes – setting an incredible 166.368mph at the infamous Bonneville Salt Flats.
Returning in 2010 they broke their own record, while in 2011 Lightning took yet another step forward, smashing their previous record by over 40mph to set a new world land speed record of 215.907mph! With their credentials unquestionable, and their name now synonymous with electric motorcycles, Lightning Motors made their debut on the world racing stage when they became the first vehicle to win a major motorsports competition powered solely by solar energy. The EPower/TTXGP was held at Laguna Seca in July 2012, with the Lightning motorcycle and rider Michael Barnes winning by 2.903s.
Speaking after that race, Barnes said, “We were not about to lose this one, we have worked really hard on the machine to hold enough energy for the whole race and I can’t thank my guys enough for all the development work they have done. In two years we have improved twelve seconds and are already four seconds quicker than last year. That speaks for itself. Richard Hatfield (CEO of Lightning Motors) has put in his heart and soul and I can’t thank him enough, hopefully it will pay off for all of us soon.
“We hit 140mph in qualifying, which is faster than any of the 600’s out there! If I’m honest, the bike does feel more like a 1000cc as far as the torque is concerned….the sky’s the limit with electric power and I’m pretty sure we will eclipse something soon. I don’t when or how but we are going to make our mark with the electric industry that’s for sure.”
Make their mark they would. Just one year later Lightning and Pikes Peak legend Carlin Dunne set a new record for the fastest ascent of Pikes Peak by an electric motorcycle. What made their achievement even more special was that the duo did not just win the electric category, they were faster than the closest world-class petrol-powered bike by almost 21 seconds!
In the six years they have been designing and building motorcycles, Lightning Motors have continuously set the benchmark for electric machines and their latest Superbike, the LS-218, is the fastest production motorcycle electric or otherwise. Using the cutting-edge products, the Lightning Superbike has a range of between 100-150 miles and a quick charge of 30 minutes (fully charged in two hours), it is an equal contender to many petrol powered machines.
Up front, the LS-218 has Öhlins FGRT forks with NIX30 cartridge internals, fully adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping. Stopping power comes from dual Brembo 320mm discs with Brembo radial-mount forged 4-piston callipers. At the rear, Lightning have chosen an Öhlins TTX36 Shock and linkage, making the machine as forgiving on road as it is sharp on the track.
“We built our brand by setting Bonneville records,” said Lightning CEO Richard Hatfield, “and beating the best machines at Pikes Peak, while winning road racing championships has cemented our position. We wanted our latest machine to provide comfort for the rider and supreme handling and with Öhlins having built their brand by winning in virtually every form of motorsports, as well as their unrivalled products, it was a natural choice for us. Lightning’s customers demand the best on their LS-218 Electric Superbikes and we’ve strived to provide them just that!”
Why use solar energy?
There are lots of electric motorcycles being designed and built around the world, but what sets the Lightning Motors group aside is their use of solar power. Hatfield explains, “Solar energy fuelled vehicles are not just theoretical concepts, to be realised sometime in the future, but a reality that we can all benefit from today. We believed from the very beginning that they would be able to compete head to head with petrol powered machines, so our decision to go with solar power was relatively simple.
Naturally it took some extra effort to execute but we decided to make the extra effort for a couple of reasons. First, we wanted to show that using an electric vehicle is not a compromise. So often people comment that electric vehicles are not reliable and are not a viable technology, but by winning these major competitions with our electric racing vehicles I hope people are now starting to realize that electric vehicle technology is viable and efficient.
Solar is a viable source of sustainable energy that allows us to power our superbikes for the race without a carbon footprint. The primary goal of the electric superbike is to win races, but we are certainly aware of the need to make fundamental changes within the transportation industry. Utilizing solar power is an opportunity for us to demonstrate the viability of clean power generation and to show how the technology can be applied the transportation industry.
An electric motorcycles’ power storage needs are met by a system of batteries, whereas a traditional motorcycle derives power from liquid fossil fuels. Batteries, indiscriminately storing electricity, allow for flexibility in the methods by which power is generated for storage. That means the power fed to the batteries of an electric motorcycle can be harnessed from the sun, via solar technologies, or from the wind, or from running water, or – you get the idea.
Our race bikes are virtually the same as our street bikes, with only cosmetic changes for legality, and component changes based on customer preference. Not only are our Lightning Superbikes the fastest production motorcycles available for sale today, but they are also the most energy efficient. On motorways we can achieve more than 100 miles of range for an equivalent of over 250mpg. Even at the Bonneville Salt Flats when we set the SCTA World Land Speed Records of 215.960mph, our range was over 20 miles. At our top speed of over 218mph we calculated that we were still achieving an equivalent of over 50mpg!
Our goal is that within the next two years we will set the fastest lap on the track at an AMA Pro Race weekend, gasoline or electric – the technology is developing very rapidly and I see no reason why this isn’t possible!”
07 – Motorsport round-up – Motorcycle
MotoGP – Márquez brothers makes history!
Commentators are beginning to run out of superlatives for 21 year old Repsol Honda superstar Marc Márquez, as the young Spaniard rewrote the MotoGP record books once again in 2014. Smashing Mick Doohan’s record of 12 wins in a season, Márquez dominated throughout the year – wrapping up his second blue-riband class title with three rounds remaining, before taking a record breaking thirteenth victory of the year at Valencia…
Keeping the young sensation on his toes though was the resurgent old guard of fan favourite Valentino Rossi. After struggling on his return to Yamaha last season and sacking his long term crew chief Jerry Burgess, many critics had written the nine-time World Champion off. However, a change in riding style reinvigorated the Italian legend as he enjoyed eleven podiums and two victories on his way to second overall in the Championship.
The new ‘Open’ class, that replaced the CRT machines, saw Yamaha take the initiative as Aleix Espargaro and the Forward Racing team dominated the class against the underpowered production Hondas.
In the lower capacity Moto2 class, it has been a similar story of domination as the Mark VDS duo of Esteve Rabat and Mika Kallio finished first and second in this highly competitive field. Finishing in third place was class rookie Maverick Viñales, who will now step up into the premier class for 2015 with the returning official Suzuki team.
In the fairing-bashing Moto3 class, the youngest Márquez brother, Alex, clinched the title at the final round of the year, taking his first world title. The Championship victory marked the first time in Grand Prix history that two brothers have won world titles in the same year.
Almost the entire MotoGP paddock 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 – Super Sylvain
A nail-biting final Qatar race saw French rider Sylvain Guintoli and Aprilia clinch the 2014 World Superbike Championship crown in dramatic style. Despite team orders coming into play in the final two rounds, it was the most consistent man who claimed the title – with Guintoli being the only rider to finish every race in the points.
Pata Honda superstar Michael Van Der Mark dominated the World Supersport series, taking an incredible six victories from eleven starts. He will now step up into the blue-riband class with the team, partnering Guintoli.
The Dunlop legend continues…
It was an incredible Road Racing season for Öhlins as BMW new boy Michael Dunlop dominated the iconic Isle of Man TT races, taking four wins to further add to his victory at the North West 200 event. Michael now has 11 wins at the legendary TT event, whilst his uncle Joey remains the benchmark with 26.
The often unforgiving World of Endurance took in the historic 24 hour events of the Bol D’Or and Le Mans, the incredible Japanese jewel of the Suzuka 8 Hour and the German round; Oschersleben 8HR. The Yamaha GMT 94 were crowned Endurance World Champions on their Öhlins equipped YZF-R1. Team riders included David Checa (ESP), Kenny Foray (FRA), Mathieu Gines (FRA) and Lucas Mahias (FRA).
Once again, Öhlins have enjoyed a successful racing season across the world’s leading domestic two wheel championships.
In America, the Öhlins took a 1-2-3 with the Monster Energy Yamaha team proving to be the ones to beat once again as Josh Hayes wrapped up the 2014 AMA Superbike title, ahead of Yoshimura Suzuki star Roger Hayden and Monster Energy Yamaha’s Cameron Beaubier in third.
The German IDM series saw total domination from the newly formed 3C Racing Ducati team as Xavi took the title ahead of took the title ahead of teammate and former World Superbike star Max Neukirchner. It was a similar story in the Italian CIV series as the Barni Racing Ducati of Ivan Goi secured the title while team mate Leandro Mercado won the FIM European Superstock 1000 Championship.
In French Superbike it was another full podium sweep in both Superbike and Supersport classes: Superbike: 1/ LEBLANC Gregory 2/ GIMBERT Sebastien 3/ MASSON Etienne Supersport 1/ MAHIAS Lucas 2 / BULLE Louis 3/ CAMUS Robin.
Off Road Action
Its been another busy year on the MX scene as Bike It Cosworth Yamaha battled in the World MX2 series as young Max Anstie took his first ever World Championship victory at the Belgian GP of Lommel. Interestingly the team go green as they switch to Kawasaki power for 2015 but of course the suspension remains yellow and gold!
The impressive Bud Racing outfit supported Meghan Rutledge as she finished runner-up in the FIM Womens Motocross World Championship. Other notable successes included podiums at the Genova SX with Christophe Pourcel and victory in the Zuidenbrock SX (Valentin Teillet).
In North America we continue to work with Team MotoConcept. Mike Alessi finished runner up in the Canadian championship, with his team exciting many fans ‘north of the border’ as its known. Alessi also visited the Öhlins factory when he came over to compete in the 24MX Supercross in Stockholm.
In the Supermoto World Championship, Thomas Chareyre secured his third S1 world title in 2014 on his TM Supermoto machine.
08 – Motorsport round-up – Automotive
Endurance success on all fronts and Farewell to Legend Kristensen
It was another impressive year in Endurance racing by Öhlins equipped teams. There was a thrilling battle for the win in the Le Mans 24 hours with both Toyota and Audi fighting for the win. For a long time it looked like Toyota would finally take its first Le Mans 24 hour win after they returned to endurance racing. But this race can be cruel. After nine hours in the lead the pole sitting Toyota #7 had to retire with Kazumi Nakajima behind the wheel. Audi took over the lead but had their share of problems as well…
In the lead chasing his tenth Le Mans victory Tom Kristensen in the # 1 Audi was forced to replace the turbo, handing the lead to Porsche but hotly pursued by the #2 Audi. In the end it was the #2 Audi driven by Marcel Fässler, Benoît Tréluyer and Andre Lotterer who won the race, their third race victory in this classic, ahead of Tom Kristensen, Marc Gené and Lucas di Grassi . The Toyota of Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Nicolas Lapierre completed the podium and an all-Öhlins sweep. This was also the 15th time in a row that an Öhlins equipped car has won this race.
Toyota got their revenge in the World Endurance Championship where Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Bumei became the World Champions while Toyota secured the manufacturers title.
Finally a farewell to Le Mans legend and nine time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen who announced late in the year this was to be his final season of racing. A true gentleman of the sport and a Le Mans legend, he got a fitting farewell at the season finale in Brazil. Eight of his nine Le Mans titles has come at the hands of an Öhlins equipped car and everyone at the factory wish Tom all the best for the future and give thanks for all the success throughout the years.
WTCC – Citroën dominates the field.
Audi drew first blood in the Audi vs Toyota battle in World Endurance, as the series kicked off at Silverstone in April. Audi-trio Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Loic Duval headed an Audi one-two with the new R18 e-tron Quattro ahead of the two Toyota TS030 – Hybrid machines. Toyota chose to run last year’s cars against Audis’ 2013-spec cars and struggled to match the pace. Expect this battle to get more intense as the championship continues and of course the big race is the classic Le Mans 24-Hour race in June…
Rallycross – success both in the World Championship and USA.
Rallycross is going through something of a boom this year and nowhere was this more apparent than in the newly formed World Championship with over 40 cars entering most of the rounds in the highest class. This was another successful year for Öhlins teams. Ford Olsbergs MSE secured the ‘teams’ title in the final round in Argentina, and the new partnership of Peugeot-Hansen won races and was in the hunt for the team title, in the end finishing third overall.
Across the Atlantic in Red Bull Global Rallycross young sensation Joni Wiman, last year’s Supercars Lights champion, became series Champion driving for Olsbergs MSE. He secured his title in the season finale in Las Vegas in a tough fight against ‘Gymkhana’ Internet star Ken Block.
Back to the off road scene and the world of Rallying saw success for Öhlins equipped cars in a number of national championships around the world. Something worth mentioning is the new Peugeot 208 R5, created by Peugeot for the new and exciting R5 class, which entered the class this year and immediately ended up in the winner’s circle.
In the FIA EERC Production Car Cup Vitaliy Pushkar and Ivan Mishyn became European Champions in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X R4. And in China Prodrive entered a brand new VW Golf WRC Rally in the APRC Rally China and won on their debut.
Still Big in Japan!
Car racing in Japan is nothing new for Öhlins and 2014 marked another successful year in the domestic racing scene in the land of the rising sun. Super Formula launched a new single seater for this year, a car closer to F1 performance than its predecessor and the competition was as high as ever between the teams. Former F1-driver Kazumi Nakajima driving for the Petronas Team TOM’S managed to take his first Super Formula title and his team also headed the team standings at the end of the year.
GT and VLN
Finally it was another strong year in the GT category. Marc VDS was once again one of the front runners with their BMW Z4 in the classic Nürburgring 24 hours and Nissan Motorsport entered a couple of Nissan GT-R’s for the big German race. Öhlins supplies suspension to a number of GT manufacturers in the large GT3 category and equipped cars from McLaren, Bentley, Nissan and Lamborghini which were successful in various GT championships throughout the year.