01 – Welcome to performance
Firstly, welcome! This is our eighth edition of Performance and we’ve once again been busy gathering stories from across the globe for another mixed and hopefully entertaining issue to read…
2015 has proven another highly successful and busy year for Öhlins. Alongside a new range of products, we’ve enjoyed considerable success on track with both two and four wheels… and even skis!
In motorcycling we once again proved to be the suspension of choice in MotoGP, and although the incredible final race of the year was nailbiting for all, our victory was assured with most of the top teams choosing our equipment. Further titles came in Moto 3, World Supersport, the FIM Endurance World Championship as well as numerous victories in national series around the world.
On four wheels we’ve had success in many varied disciplines including absolute domination from the Citroën squad in the WTCC series, with their drivers taking the top four spots. We’ve also seen Swedish driver Tommy Hansen taking World Rallycross race wins in his Team Peugeot-Hansen 208 WRX, multiple Six Hour victories for the Audi World Endurance squad and notable wins in GT racing, including the legendary Nürburgring 24HR.
In this edition of Performance we also catch up with World Superbike legend Troy Bayliss to find out what he’s been up to since hanging his leathers up. Staying with the Aussie theme, we also talked to his old Öhlins technician, Byron Draper, about life on the other side of the garage. We report from our EVO video shoot at the picturesque Anglesey circuit in Wales where we went to see the Öhlins effect on two identical cars, one equipped with and one equipped without Öhlins Road & Track shocks. We also take an in-depth look at the world of Endurance racing and look closer at the crazy and entertaining world of Rallycross through the eyes of one of the teams using Öhlins. Finally we mix it up we also learn about inspiring Sit-Ski World Champion Corey Peters.
Finally, from everyone at Öhlins we would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Marketing & Communication Manager – Öhlins Racing AB
02 – Troy Bayliss & Öhlins – A golden partnership
Three time World Superbike Champion Troy Bayliss has ridden on Öhlins equipment for the vast majority of his long and distinguished career through his domestic Australian series, American and British Superbikes, WSB and MotoGP. We managed to track down the likeable Aussie to a 24 hour moped enduro (!) on the Gold Coast, to find out more about his relationship with the brand and what he’s up to now…
“I’ve been with Öhlins since ‘96 and only ridden with another manufacturer for a single season, and honestly I didn’t get on with it at all!”
Troy didn’t have the opportunity to beat the now well trodden path of small capacity lightweight bikes with steady progression through the classes, in fact as a late starter in his mid 20’s he threw himself straight into the Australian Supersport followed by the Superbike series! The hard-charging rider from New South Wales had his first taste of a professional team and “something just clicked” as he rode for Team Kawasaki and Suzuki Australia. He then attracted global attention when he took a 250GP wildcard at Assen to pick up a coveted British Superbike ride on a factory Ducati.
“Britain in 1998 was a struggle – the tracks are really different, we had crashes and mechanicals… then the following year everything went right and this was the start of my relationship with Ducati.”
2000 saw Troy move to the Vance and Hines team in AMA Superbike in the States, before being drafted into the factory WSB team to replace the injured Carl Fogarty. He took two race wins in his debut season and then cemented his relationship with the Bologna brand taking the 2001 World Superbike Championship. The next season would witness a titanic battle between Troy and Colin Edwards with the American having an almost perfect second half of the season to win the title. Both men then moved to MotoGP together.
Troy explains, “I had some fantastic times with Ducati and it’s fair to say that there was a trio of us that really had something special – me, Ernesto Marinelli (Ducati crew chief) and Byron Draper (Öhlins technician) . We got to the point that we knew what worked for me and the bike, and they could just say to me ‘Troy- it’s in your head mate’ and I would just get on with it! The way I see it not everyone can win but if you can supply a good base bike and have good guys around you have all the right ingredients.
“The two guys from Öhlins who I knew the best were Corndog (John Cornwell) and Byron. Byron is an ex Aussie MX rider like me so we had some mutual stuff to focus on but he was always such a switched on guy, even from an early age, and great to have around.”
Bayliss moved back to WSB, taking two more crowns (in 2006 and 2008). However he may be most revered for his spectacular one-off ride at the ’06 Valencia MotoGP which he won, “It was amazing. I got to take the right guys with me, in fact I took most of the Superbike crew with me… and of course we all walked away very happy!”
Troy is famous for his ‘never say die’ spirit but who does he consider his toughest rivals? “I’ve had some really hard battles with some tough characters; Britain was actually really tough, swapping paint with Chris Walker, Niall Mackenzie and Neil Hodgson. Of course everyone remembers the battles with Colin (Edwards) and Haga, but you know what- we never knocked each other off and we enjoyed a pizza together at every round. I can’t imagine the current MotoGP guys doing the same thing!”
Troy was racing in a golden era for Australians with many of his countrymen both racing and working in the paddock, “I guess we’re pretty easy-going folk so maybe that helps in a tense environment. Also I think it’s fair to say that both riders and mechanics have to make a big effort to get to Europe, so we need to make it work once we’re here.”
After retiring from racing, Troy shocked the paddock with a comeback ride at the first round of the 2015 WSB series with his old team, the factory Ducati Racing squad. “It was a strange situation to be honest. I was going to Phillip Island as a spectator but when Giugliano was injured I got the chance to ride. I wasn’t really ready but I thought it would be cool to get the old band back together. At the end of the day, it was just a great experience and I’m really grateful for it.”
So how had things changed in the 20 years of his Superbike racing career? “Of course things have changed but so much remains the same.
This year the kit was totally different and there was a lot to take in. Suspension set up is the same black art though; lots of trial and error. When I was racing full-time, I tried to keep it simple. We had spring rate changes at the rear and just two sets of valving for the forks. The funny thing was, I had just one setting on the shock for the wet; it felt so good and I just used to leave it alone.
”Despite retiring from the tarmac Troy returned to his first love, Dirt Track, resulting in some big crashes and injuries this year, “Yeah, I’ve had more injuries in the last few months than in my whole racing career, three crashes and I hit the wall three times. I love Dirt Track and we have our own event in January (The Troy Bayliss Classic). It’s in my home town, it’s great to help the local club and bring over the top international racers.
“My son Ollie (12 years old) is riding really well and I think he’ll be as fast as me in two years. I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world in a big circus with an air con garage but now I’m back in the dirt riding with my lad, I couldn’t be happier!”
03 – EVO Magazine asks; “Can Öhlins suspension make a Mégane faster?”
The following is republished courtesy of Evo Magazine:
How much can Öhlins Road & Track dampers improve the feel and pace of a performance car? Two Renaultsport Méganes, some challenging Welsh roads and a racetrack hold the answer…
Power and performance figures grab headlines, but when it comes to the very best drivers’ cars – and the most informed drivers – road-holding, handling, ride quality and feel are what really count.
Successfully balancing these critical, and often conflicting, factors is the chassis engineer’s eternal challenge, but one that Swedish suspension manufacturer Öhlins believes it has met with its range of ‘Road & Track’ dampers. Shaped by four decades of experience and more than 300 motorsport world titles, Öhlins’ Road & Track dampers feature ideas and technology taken from that hard-won racing success. Foremost amongst this transfer of knowledge and hardware is Öhlins’ innovative Dual Flow Valve or DFV. This unique feature enables its Road & Track units to maintain the same damping characteristics in compression and rebound. The benefits are consistent performance and simple, simultaneous one-click adjustment of both the compression and rebound settings.
It’s these trick internals that are the secret to Road & Track’s combination of uncanny compliance and supreme control, and how they offer the widest possible range of adjustability for you to fine-tune your car to excel on the bumpiest road or the smoothest racetrack. Whether fitted as original equipment by leading high-performance brands such as Renaultsport and Polestar, offered as an official factory option, or installed as an aftermarket upgrade, Road & Track suspension brings next-level dynamics and Öhlins’ legendary quality within the reach of the discerning enthusiast.
On Road For the first element of our test we’re using the fabulous roads of north Wales. From flowing stretches of smooth tarmac to tighter, rougher sections with hidden crests and wicked compressions, our route is the ultimate measure of control, compliance and driver confidence. First up is the standard Mégane Trophy – the yellow car on these pages. As you’d expect from evo’s current favourite hot hatchback, it’s extremely impressive. Deep reserves of grip, plenty of front-end bite and a neutral-yet-lively balance give you the tools and the confidence to really enjoy the car’s performance. Yes, its ride is unashamedly firm, but when it’s in its element, compromised comfort feels like a fair trade for such livewire dynamics.
Swapping to the Öhlins-equipped car, we first drive the route with the dampers set to Renaultsport’s factory road settings of five clicks on the front and ten on the rear (both from a possible 40 clicks, zero being fully stiff, 40 fully soft). The differences between this and the standard car are subtle, but tangible. There’s a sense of tighter body control and precision, but despite the hard settings, initial impacts from the worst imperfections are more smoothly rounded off.
It feels more positive, too: fractional improvements in response, grip and traction combining to make you feel more connected and confident. It’s an impressive start. Next, using the Road & Track’s one-click bump and rebound adjustment, we soften the Öhlins-equipped Mégane to Renaultsport’s recommended B-road settings and repeat the route.
Immediately there’s a marked improvement in ride quality, but not at the expense of that impressive precision or body control. The same pin-sharp agility and response remains, but with even greater poise and composure. Despite the extra compliance, mid-corner compressions – which threaten to overwhelm the standard car’s damping – leave the Öhlins-suspended car unfazed. And because the car is in closer harmony with the road surface, you feel more in tune with its responses, and totally immersed in the driving experience.
Take things to extremes and the differences can be felt even more clearly. Approaching one of the numerous crests to be found on these roads at the same speed in both cars, the standard Trophy is eager to take off, lands heavily and takes a moment or two to regain its composure. The Öhlins-equipped car is less keen to launch over the crest, absorbing the initial compression force as the Mégane hits the upslope and controlling the release of energy as the wheels eventually leave the ground. On landing it touches down more smoothly, swiftly soaking up the first impact and controlling the rate of rebound with equal precision, preventing a secondary bounce and allowing the car to settle more quickly.
It’s a graphic demonstration of the superior body control with the Öhlins Road & Track suspension, and underlines the lasting impression from our road route, namely that compliance is the key to unlocking an uncannily brilliant combination of control, ride comfort and confidence-inspiring feel on challenging and unpredictable roads.
For the second element of our test we move to Anglesey Circuit. We’re using the Coastal configuration, which packs plenty of challenges into its short but highly technical 1.5-mile lap. From traction-testing hairpins and fast corners that demand grip and confidence, to rapid direction changes and heavy braking zones, it’s an evo favourite for good reason. In addition to comparing the all-important subjective feel of each car here, we’re adding objectivity by driving against the clock. It’s worth mentioning that, as on the road, each car is fitted with the same type of OE Bridgestone tyre (not the optional Michelin Pilot Cup 2s, which are only available as an option with the Öhlins suspension) and carrying the same fuel load, thereby ensuring that, suspension apart, they are as close to identical as possible. Of course, as we’re now on a racetrack we can push both cars to their absolute limits with stability control switched off.
Once again we begin with the standard car, and once again it more than upholds Renaultsport’s reputation: the Mégane’s trademark rapid-but-measured steering response, strong initial turn-in grip and rear-end stability being the stand-out qualities.
Only when pushing for a lap time do weaknesses become apparent – that encouraging bite at turn-in fading to understeer mid-corner as you chase the throttle through the quicker corners, a wriggle of momentary rear-end instability in the heaviest braking zones (most notably on the uphill 100mph-plus approach to Rocket) and a tendency to scrabble for traction exiting the hairpins. Nevertheless, it’s a mightily impressive performance from an everyday-useable road car.
We first try the Öhlins-suspended car running Renaultsport’s recommended damper settings for a quick, dry track (four clicks front, nine rear). The improvement over the standard car is immediate, as from the moment you turn into the first corner you can feel there’s more grip to lean on, and it lasts through the apex and on to the exit. Coupled to stronger traction, superior stability into the most critical braking area and an ability to ride the kerbs without deflecting the car from your chosen line, it feels like a car you can place with pin-point accuracy, even when driving at the limit.
The way it copes with kerbs is especially impressive, and it’s largely thanks to that Dual Flow Valve technology. Just as on the road, during moments of very sharp suspension loading – such as those from a ridge, pothole or a racetrack’s kerb – the DFV acts like a blow-off valve, allowing oil within the damper to bypass the compression and rebound ports. This rapid but controlled response ensures the wheel and tyre remain in contact with the ground, maintaining grip and traction when the standard car begins to run out of ideas. It’s supremely effective and very, very clever.
First run completed, we switch to a more aggressive setup – two clicks on the front, five on the rear – to exploit Anglesey’s smooth surface.
The differences in feel are small, but there’s definitely a sense that the Mégane is squeezing a fraction more from the tyres. You can place it with even greater precision and confidence, get on the power even earlier and really chase the cleanest and most efficient lines. It also feels more rewarding and, crucially for track work, even more consistent, lap after lap.
So the Mégane fitted with Öhlins Road & Track dampers feels significantly better, but does the stopwatch back that subjective improvement with a quicker lap time? Of course it does. The first of our two setups finds 0.3sec over the standard car, the second, more aggressive setup increasing that advantage to 0.4sec – a best lap of 1:20.75 convincingly eclipsing the standard car’s 1:21.15. Yes, away from the racetrack that’s but a few blinks of the eye, but in motorsport terms a performance advantage of four-tenths of a second around a 1.5-mile lap is a lifetime, especially in identical cars. That the quicker car also manages to consistently sustain its superior pace and be more enjoyable while it does so seals the deal for Öhlins Road & Track.
Delivering more pace and precision on track, bringing greater control, compliance and enjoyment on the road, our tests have proved the Öhlins Effect is real. Performance gains you can measure, dynamic improvements you can feel. Öhlins Road & Track will release the potential in your car, wherever you drive.
You can see the article in it’s original format here:
04 – SRC Kawasaki and the enduring qualities of EWC…
It is probably fair to say that outside of France, the FIM Endurance World Championship is on the peripheral vision of most motorcycle race fans, well apart from the MotoGP star-studded Suzuka Eight Hour event that is…
However Endurance racing is arguably the ultimate test of rider, team and machine and thanks to a growing number of ‘big names’ entering the sport, regular live coverage shown globally and renewed interest from the factories, the FIM Endurance World Championship is growing from strength to strength.
For Öhlins, it’s a key discipline to demonstrate the capabilities of its products and the 2015 season saw the top three in the series all run Öhlins suspension units!
With races varying between a gruelling 24 hours, and a ‘slightly’ more manageable eight hours, Endurance racing is a team game as the riders and crew work together seamlessly. With a typical weekend seeing a day of testing, a day of official practice, a day for qualifying and then finally race day, it is intense, – it’s estimated that a team will complete more laps during one Endurance event than a rider would in the whole of a Superbike season!
Each team competing in the Superbike and Superstock class is allowed to run four riders during testing, practice and qualifying with the fastest three going forward to the race (teams can elect to run two riders for the eight hour races). Whilst only one bike can be used for the race, many teams run two bikes for the opening days – with most using an extra fast ‘qualifying’ engine to secure the best possible position on the grid.
Of course, with three riders using the same machine over the course of the race, it is impossible to set the bike up perfectly for each of them so the various sessions before the race are spent trying to find a suitable compromise. To make things even more interesting, alongside trying to find an ideal set-up for three riders of varying size, height and style, the team also has to combat extreme changes to the track. Running for 24 hours, track temperature changes drastically over the race duration; from cool night time temperatures to sunny afternoons – and that does not take into account any changes in the weather, if the rain arrives the race continues!
An Endurance race is not about flat out banzai laps, but consistently fast average speeds and it is no exaggeration to say a race can be won or lost in the pits. With around 25-30 pit stops during a 24 hour race, there is no rest for the team as they have to remain constantly alert for their rider, in case of any unscheduled stops.
Capable of changing rider, tyres and refuelling in under a minute it truly is one of the most important parts of the race – take a walk around the paddock any night and you will see teams repeating the pit-stop process again and again… and again!
As with all motorsport, bad luck could strike at any time; a mechanical problem, a tyre problem, a crash – any one of these could put a rider out of the race, but if the rider and bike are able to get back to the garage, then the race continues and its down to the mechanics to get the bike back out as soon as possible.
For the top teams, such as the SRC Kawasaki squad who finished third overall this year, that usually means a matter of minutes. The 2015 season proved to be a real mix of highs and lows for the Gilles Stafler run team. Held over four rounds, the 2015 FIM Endurance World Championship began in April with the iconic Le Mans 24 hour race.
Securing pole position, riders Gregory Leblanc, Matthieu Lagrive and Fabien Foret were confident of powering the ZX-10R to victory. Unfortunately despite leading the opening laps a crash just two hours in meant it was all hands on deck to repair the machine and get it back out.
As a testament to the team, the Kawasaki was back out within minutes and only nine laps behind the leader. Fighting through the night, the team were able to climb back up the leader board to eventually take second place at the chequered flag!
05 – From track to road – A technician’s story
Australian native Byron Draper lives and breathes suspension from his workshop at Öhlins company headquarters just north of Stockholm. Now a key member of the brand’s development of its dealer training and product development, Byron has spent much of his life out on the race circuit, helping riders such as Troy Bayliss get the perfect set-up. This is his story…
“I grew up racing MX and that got me working in my local bike shop. The work helped me to ride and the racing gave me a focus to work. I soon met top Australian rider and coach Stephen Gall and started helping him with his coaching schools. He introduced me to some of the most professional Australian teams where I gained experience working as a mechanic.
Eventually I needed to decide whether to concentrate on racing, or focus more on a technical role. I couldn’t really decide but looking back maybe I didn’t have the absolute dedication needed to be a top racer.
So I started working for the Kawasaki Australia MX team in 2001 and then helped a friend, (Australian motocross guru Lyndon Heffernan) set up and run a Yamaha supported team in 2003.
My first overseas trip was with this team to the MX des Nations in Belgium. It was a fantastic atmosphere and I became hooked on the European MX scene.
With the help of another Aussie MX star and friend Kim Ashkenazi I managed to land a job as mechanic for Tanel Leok with the Motovision Suzuki Team in the UK for 2004. That year we campaigned in three different series with around 48 race and testing weekends… it nearly killed me to be honest!
I met the legendary ‘Moose’ (Grant Covus – a well known Öhlins technician) and through him Mats Larsson (Road racing manager at Öhlins) offered me a job in the race department. It was to be in 125 road race GP’s but by the time I started it had changed and I was working for the factory Ducati World Superbike team. I didn’t have the heart to tell them I’d never even been to a road race before!
It was a massive step and I’ll be honest I was slightly nervous. But when you’re this far from home you make sure you swim when thrown in the deep water! 2005 saw me working with Regis Laconi and James Toseland; the current WSBK Champion. It was a great team and they treated me like one of the family. I learned a lot there and still have many friends from that team.
The next year Troy Bayliss came back to the team from MotoGP… It was like a member of the family returning, we got along immediately and been mates ever since.
During this time the boss was Davide Tardozzi, who I rate highly as a team manager. He was a great character who provided a strong structure for the team. I spent six years at Ducati until they pulled out of WSB, at which point I went to the BMW factory team. It was as you would expect a completely different culture and they started from zero as a non-racing manufacturer, so it was good to be able to draw on some of my experiences at Ducati.
I learned in the race paddock that the job of a suspension technician was less technical and more about understanding and getting on with people.The interaction between rider and technicians is key. Sometimes you have to realise that if you tell a rider something, even if it is true, it can affect their perception and maybe even their race pace. Knowing when, what and how to say things is crucial in this environment. Troy seemed to be able to ride around a problem to some extent and leave the changes to the team, whereas other riders needed to know exactly what changes were being made. This takes up a lot of mental energy, maybe energy that could be concentrated more on track.
Whenever I was back at the factory I was keen to learn new techniques and about all road suspension, not just racing. I met a local lady who became my wife, settled here and worked my way into a job at the HQ.
I worked for quite a time in the lab, doing R&D on race components and became responsible for the ‘setting libraries’; which are databases of settings for each product we produce. I also got to fill in at races if a technician had to miss a round. I’m now the Product Specialist for Motorcycles (in the Road and Track product group). We look after the dealer network so technicians come to the factory for training from all over the globe and we also go to visit them where necessary. We are developing a training package which the National distributor can then use to help local dealers raise the skill level of their technicians.
My job also involves market research. Recently I attended the Sao Paulo motorcycle show, and it opened my eyes to the South American market, there is obviously massive potential there. It’s good to see how Öhlins is perceived around the world and I think helps us understand where we can improve also.
I do miss the competitive side of racing and visiting the events but definitely not the frequency … too much travelling can be tough with a family! To stay fit and try to scratch that competitive itch I race mountain bikes and now one of my boys has started BMX… so we’re always busy with bikes of some sort!
Recently it was great to see Troy back on a superbike and I think he proved that he still has what it takes. I was excited but not too shocked to see him do so well in his return to WSB. He actually epitomises what is great about Öhlins- the company may be diversifying but will always have its heritage and passion of racing flowing through its veins!”
06 – Cross breeding…
Ask most motorsport fans about the most incredible race series ever, and you’ll get some predictable answers. Formula One of course, especially in the 1,500bhp turbocharged era of heroes. Endurance racing Gulf Porsche 917s from the 1970s perhaps. And the glory days of 600bhp+ Group B rally racing cars. Of course, that sort of thing’s all gone now. Isn’t it? Well, no actually. There’s an auto sport where the cars are still largely unrestricted, with 600bhp turbo engines, four wheel drive, and crazy speeds. Crazy like 0-60mph in 2.0 seconds – on gravel…
It’s called Rallycross, and as the name suggests, it’s a little bit like rallying, a little bit like motocross, but in reality, it’s completely different. The basics are simple: a mixed on/offroad course, on a short-circuit racetrack. The top-level Supercars are, essentially, full-bore versions of the compact rally cars you might see in WRC, but with fewer restrictions on power output. A genuine 600bhp, from fire-breathing turbocharged 2-litre engines, in heavily-modified, lightweight, hot-hatch chassis.
As you’d imagine, keeping these beasts in check round a tight, twisty tarmac and dirt circuit takes some doing. Much of the job falls to the driver of course – and Rallycross pilots are acknowledged as some of the most talented racers around.
But the suspension plays a vital part too. And for Öhlins, this is one of the most challenging tasks to deal with. Unlike in any other discipline, you need to combine performance on smooth asphalt and loose dirt, as well as handling massive jumps. All the while, dealing with the stresses of hard braking, tight cornering, and 600bhp driving through all four wheels. Phew!
It’s a really tough job, with enormous demands made on the suspension.
We spoke to Kenneth Hansen, 14-time European Rallycross champion, and owner of the Hansen Motorsport Peugeot Rallycross team, about the special requirements of the sport.
What are the most important aspects of suspension performance in Rallycross?
“We need some long wheel travel depending on the circuit, if it’s wet or dry and how much gravel there is. But it can be like a tarmac race car also, with long wheel travel, much longer than a race car. Because we have dips and holes in the gravel sections, we need to adapt to that. The goal is to always have four wheels on the ground.”
This tough job falls to Öhlins’ ALR TPX and TTX shocks. These suspension units use Öhlins’ tried and tested technology, with twin tube dampers in the TTX units. They’re specially developed to give the long suspension travel needed for high-speed jumps, yet provide the precise wheel control needed for optimum grip on tarmac and dirt. They have the massive range of adjustment needed for setup on different courses, combined with extremely fine gradations of damping adjustment, for the perfect setting.
The Hansen Motorsport Team uses custom-made Macpherson-strut type shocks. Kenneth told us how the team puts a lot of work into their setup for each track.
“During the season we try different evolutions and different settings. In a season like this has been, we always are progressing, and hopefully trying new dampers and new things.
“On some tracks without jumps where the surface is quite flat, you can go much more like a racing car. But if you have jumps and holes and kerbs (which the drivers want to cut quite heavily!) then you need to adapt the suspension, so the car can handle this.”
Like all race teams, knowledge and experience is vital for Hansen. “We know in advance approximately which level we need to start with at each circuit and then we make adjustments from there. So it can be quite different between say the circuit with the most gravelly sections, to the circuit with the most tarmac. Depending also how the gravel sections are, there’s quite a big difference between those.”
Does the team experiment a lot with spring rates and wheel travel?
“Yes! We also work a lot with the springs and roll bars, and also ride height changes. The amount of wheel travel we run is confidential, but most of the cars are using up to perhaps 250mm. You can see in the race different wheel travel with different car setups. It’s quite similar to a rally car setup.”
And you only need to watch one Rallycross race to see what a pounding the dampers take. The enormous wheel travel needed to cope with the jumps gives the suspension a real headache when the cars head into a corner. As the huge brakes slam the cars onto their nose, and the 600bhp engines slingshot them round the bend, the suspension units put in a heroic performance, trying to keep the tyres on the deck, to transmit all that power into the ground.
Normal suspension units would quickly overheat and fade, giving the performance of underdamped pogo sticks on each corner of the car. But Öhlins’ advanced technologies keep working, holding the damping oil temperature down, self-adjusting the oil flow to balance the changes in viscosity, and preventing cavitation in the oil chambers.
Extreme stuff. And it’s the ability to cope with the two extremes of setup – rally and road – which makes Öhlins suspension the perfect choice. As Kenneth Hansen says, “Our suspension setup is difficult because we work between two extremes – the total offroad rally setup, and the on-road tarmac setup, so we need to use the one that is giving the best lap time. On some circuits it’s difficult to handle the jumps very well if you want a good time, so then you need to sacrifice something. Since last year we learned to work with that, so we are better this year than last year. So it’s going in the right direction.”
The 2015 Rallycross season finished, with an exciting round at the Argentinian track at the Autodromo Rosario. But the 2016 calendar has just been released – so you can plan your visit to this most extreme turbocharged auto sport next season! More info at: www.fiaworldrallycross.com
Most small hot-hatch cars make up to 200bhp in road trim. But a typical RX car, like the Team Peugeot-Hansen Peugeot 208 makes more than 600bhp… We asked Kenneth Hansen how they do it.
“With a turbo engine today it’s not so difficult to make a lot of power. We have an air intake restrictor on the car of 45mm, [modern rally cars have a 34mm restrictor, allowing about 300bhp] so 600bhp is the most we can get.
Without the restrictor we could get 1,000bhp, which wouldn’t suit so well! The level of engine performance on these cars, on these tracks, with the weight (1,300kg) makes quite a good balance. The car is geared for approximately 210kph, depending on the track, about 130-140mph.”
And the performance is incredible – the Hansen Peugeot 208 can hit 60mph in around two seconds, even with a manual six-speed gearshift, and no driver aids! The car is based around a stock Peugeot 208 bodyshell, with a Sadev gearbox, running on special Cooper-Avon WRX tyres.
07 – Sit-ski…
Back in 2009, if you had told New Zealander Corey Peters that he would be a multiple World Champion in skiing within four years, he probably would have laughed. In September of that year, a crash whilst motocrossing left him paralysed. However in a true story of guts and determination, he has gone on to become an inspiration to everyone by becoming a double World Sit-Ski Champion and a Paralympic medallist!…
Where most might stop after an accident like that, Corey knew that sport would play a vital role in him continuing to live a fulfilled life. Before his accident, it was a huge part of his life and after attending a sports seminar in 2011 for people living with physical disabilities he discovered Sit-Ski.
“I knew I had to get back into something sporty, it had been such a big part of my life prior to the accident that I couldn’t just let it disappear. Whilst I was at the seminar I got chatting to Ian Rowe, who has since become a good friend of mine. He had his Sit-Ski there with him and we got talking about what it was and how it all worked. He too came from a similar high-adrenalin background and assured me I would love it…he wasn’t wrong!
Within a few months of that meeting, I had bought my own Sit-Ski and was on the path to where I am now. Before the accident, I had very little exposure to the mountains and snow – only trying snowboarding two or three times prior. However when I got on the Sit-Ski, the feeling of independence after skiing down a groomed trail on a mountain was incredible and something I’ll never forget. That kind of freedom isn’t something I can always get in my general day to day activities.
If I’m honest, it wasn’t actually that difficult to pick up. Coming from a motocross and surfing background, my balance and coordination skills were already pretty good so transitioning them to Sit-Ski wasn’t too bad. Learning to read different snow conditions was obviously a new skill I had to learn but over time that became second nature too. I’ve always been a competitive person, so to find a sport that I really enjoy is great but to be able to do that sport competitively on an International stage is awesome. Having a passion and something to get up for each day is something we should all strive for, and for me that’s Sit-Skiing.”
Of course just like skiing and snowboarding, the best equipment can help shave valuable time off your descent and this is where Öhlins became involved with Corey. “Easily the biggest challenge for any competitive Sit-Skier is setting up the suspension. It’s vital to a quick descent of a run and as I climbed the ranks I began to feel that the original shock perhaps wasn’t the best option and began looking around for alternatives. After speaking with some of the USA athletes, I got the specifications for the Öhlins TTX36 shock. After acquiring one, the internal valving wasn’t set up right for my Sit-Ski so I approached Robert at Kiwi Suspension Solutions Ltd and we began working on it to develop it specifically to my needs. The guys at Kiwi were instrumental in teaching me how to set up the high/low speed compression and rebound clickers. I began using it and with constant feedback from myself about how the shock was reacting under various conditions, they put it on the dyno machine and changed the shim stack which gave a consistent controlled ride.”
In just a space of four years, Corey has established himself as one of the very best Sit-Skiers in the world. At the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, he earned silver medal in the Giant Slalom, which led to him being named Snow Sports New Zealand overall ‘Athlete of the Year’.
2015 saw him take another step forward though, as he was crowned World Champion in the Downhill and Super-G categories, as well as securing silver in the Giant Slalom at the International Paralympic Committee Alpine Skiing World Championships in Canada. These medals, coupled with his success over the 2014/15 season, saw him secure third overall in the IPC World Cup rankings.
“It really has been a fantastic year, the silver medal at the Paralympics gave me such a big confidence boost that I came into the 2015 World Championships with the self-belief that I could win. I’d worked really hard during the 12 months preceding the event, working on my fitness and refining my technique and equipment, so I knew I had what it would take to win – as long as all the pieces lined up on the day! Thankfully they did, as becoming World Champion is unbelievable. It’s what every high performance athlete dreams of and I’m so stoked to have done it in just four years. It’s taken a lot of hard work to get here, but I’ve got an awesome support team around me, helping me to reach my goals and I know we can improve on this even further next season.”
What is Sit-Skiing?
Sit-Skiing is a growing winter sport, particularly in the northern hemisphere, thanks to the exposure Paralympic sports are beginning to receive on the world stage. There are five disciplines, which mirror that of the traditional skiing genres; Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super Combined, Super G and Downhill.
Competitors use different length skis for each discipline, which range from 165cm to 210cm. Each ski also has a different side cut on them to allow for different turning radiuses. The course is generally made up of hard packed snow/ice; meaning a sharp edge bevel is vital in order for the ski to hold an edge at high speed. Each Sit-Skier has a variety of different waxes and wax overlays for the base of the skis to allow them to glide better, depending on the temperature and humidity.
08 – Motorsport round-up – Motorcycle
The 2015 MotoGP season will go down in history as one of the most hotly contested series both on and off track. A resurgent Valentino Rossi kept fans enthralled…
MotoGP – Yamaha rule
The 2015 MotoGP season will go down in history as one of the most hotly contested series both on and off track. A resurgent Valentino Rossi kept fans enthralled around the world with his incredible performance as he went head-to-head with Movistar Yamaha team mate Jorge Lorenzo. With just seven points separating them as they headed to the final round of the year, Valentino would be forced to start from the back of the grid after the now infamous clash with Marc Marquez, whilst Lorenzo would start from pole following a near perfect qualifying lap that saw him smash the circuit record.
The race would play out how much of the season did. Jorge did what he does best, put lap after lap of silky smooth riding in, with his lap time not fluctuating by more than a tenth of a second, whilst Valentino carved his way through the field with ease. However with Lorenzo taking the win, and Rossi fourth, it was enough to give the Spaniard his fifth world title.
With all new rules for next year, including a brand new tyre supplier, the 2016 season looks set to be equally as enthralling…
Almost the entire MotoGP 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.
In the smaller Moto 3 class, Danny Kent dominated the category to take his first World Championship title, and the first for Britain since Barry Sheene in 1977!
World Supersport – Super Sofuoglu
Although factory Kawasaki star Jonathan Rea dominated the year, he was run close at the end by the Öhlins equipped Ducati of Chas Davies, who marked the Bologna factory’s return to form with five victories and thirteen podiums on his way to second in the standings.
In the lower capacity World Supersport Championship, Öhlins rider Kenan Sofuoglu dominated to take five victories and a further four podiums to secure his fourth World Championship. Fellow Turk, Toprak Razgatlioglu proved a revelation in 2015, finishing off the European Superstock 600 podium just once.
FIM Endurance World Championship – Life in the old dog yet…
Although the Suzuki GSX-R1000 might be the oldest of the current crop of Superbikes, the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT) proved that there is still life in the old dog by wrapping up both the Team and Rider Championships in the 2015 FIM Endurance World Championship. Fellow Öhlins shod teams, GMT 94 Yamaha and SRC Kawasaki finished second and third, with Yamaha wrapping up the Manufacturer title.
Around the World…
2015 once again proved a dominating year for Öhlins around the world, particularly in the UK where riders using the iconic gold and yellow suspension secured five titles. Leading the charge was Milwaukee Yamaha rider Josh Brookes who dominated the MCE British Superbike Championship on the all-new YZF-R1 to take his first title. In the Supersport category, Luke Stapleford secured the main title with Joe Collier taking the EVO Championship whilst in the Superstock 600 and 1000 series, Mason Law and Josh Elliott eased to victory on their Kawasaki’s. Stateside, the new MotoAmerica Championship proved an immediate success and Yamaha rider Cameron Beaubier took the title, just ahead of team mate Josh Hayes. In the Supersport class, JD Beach dominated on his YZF-R6.
Further success for the brand came throughout Europe, with young Markus Reiterberger wrapping up the IDM title in Germany aboard his BMW S1000RR, Kawasaki rider Greg LeBlanc becoming French Superbike Champion, Michelle Pirro wrapping up the Italian title on his Barni Racing Ducati, Morales Gómez securing further championships for Yamaha by winning the Spanish CEV and European Superbike titles. In Sweden, 17 year old Jesper Hubner became the youngest Champion in the Superbike class, taking the title in his debut year.
On the dirt, it was a successful year of speedway as British rider Tai Woffinden retained his World Champion status, whilst Emil Sayfutdinow became European Champion and Kyle Bickley the 125cc title – at the age of 12!
09 – Motorsport round-up – Automotive
Citroën dominated the 2016 World Touring Car Championship and its four drivers José María López, Yvan Muller, Sébastien Loeb and Qing Hua Ma finished as the…
WTCC dominance from Citroën
Citroën dominated the 2016 World Touring Car Championship and its four drivers José María López, Yvan Muller, Sébastien Loeb and Qing Hua Ma finished as the top four in the championship. Best of the best was once again Lopez who defended his World Championship title in style, with a second straight title. The all conquering French team have certainly set the bar high for their competitors, although they scale down their effort in 2016 to two cars for Lopez and Muller.
Volvo recently announced their return to WTCC with a full campaign in 2016 with two Öhlins shod cars for Swedish drivers Thed Björk and Fredrik Ekblom.
Öhlins equipped teams from Lada and Chevrolet have also previously announced they will continue in WTCC next year.
1-2 in super close Nürburgring 24HR
Teams using Öhlins had a fantastic year at Nürburgring 24 hours in 2015. The brand new Audi R8 LMS had an impressive debut with several cars in the top 10, with Audi Sport Team WRT claiming the win thanks to its team and the drivers Christopher Mies, Edward Sandström, Nico Müller and Laurens Vanthoor.
They were challenged once again by Marc VDS who claimed second spot in their BMW Z4 GT3 at this famous track where Marc VDS are always in contention. Only 40 seconds separated the two teams after 156 laps and 24 hours of racing.
Underlining this success was a further five Öhlins shod GT cars in the top ten, thanks to the efforts from Marc VDS’ second car as well as other teams using the Audi, BMW Z4 GT3, Bentley and Nissan GT-R.
World Endurance Championship
After winning the first two rounds (Spa and Silverstone) the Öhlins equipped World Endurance Audi team missed out on a 14th victory at the 24 hours of Le Mans. They then achieved further podiums at the shorter, intense Six Hours races of Nürburgring, Circuit of the Americas, Fuji, Shanghai and Bahrain to take second overall in the series.
Fellow Öhlins team, Toyota, had a tougher season but finished the season with a podium in the season finale at Bahrain. A nine round series in 2016 looks set to take this prestigious series to even greater heights, and with new cars coming from both Audi and Toyota the competition will only get tougher.
Swedish stars at World Rallycross…
There was further success for Öhlins in the high-octane FIA World Rallycross series. Peugeot Team Hansen wrapped up the team title with a strong second half of the season as Timmy Hansen nearly claimed the drivers title as well. His team-mate, Frenchman Davy Jeanney, also had a good season and celebrated his first win in World Rallycross.
After a difficult start Ford Olsbergs MSE also charged through when they found new speed in their Ford Fiestas and during the second part of the season Andreas Bakkerud was often the man to beat.
Audis DTM-star Mattias Ekström also needs to be recognised. He continued to mix his full-time duties as one of Audi’s stars in DTM to continue to build his own Rallycross team. He made several starts himself in one of his team’s two EKSRX Audi S1 models, and won his home race in Höljes – one of the season’s big highlights. Despite driving far from a full season, he placed sixth overall.
Success in the high-end world of GT Racing
Backing up their Nürburgring 24HR success, Öhlins equipped cars took many titles and race wins throughout the various GT events around the world in 2015. These included the blue riband Blancpain Endurance Series Pro Cup (GT) as Alex Buncombe, Wolfgang Reip and Katsumasa Chiyo took their Nissan GTR Nismo GT3 to the top step of the podium. Öhlins equipped cars were also victorious in the Sprint Series Cup class, and Bentleys, the new Audi R8, Nissan GT-R, Lamborghinis, and McLaren’s GT3 challenger all enjoyed success in various GT3 championships during the year.
Japanese dream finishes in Super GT and Super Formula Series
Once again, the Super GT Series in Japan proved an enthralling series and Öhlins enjoyed another Championship title as the Gainer Tanax GT-R team wrapped up both the GT300 driver and team titles with a round to spare.
In the high end single seater class of the ‘Japan Super Formula Series’, Hiroaki Ishiura took his Toyota R14A to the title and claimed yet another single seater success for an Öhlins shod car in this important Far Eastern championship.