24 Hour Domination!

An incredible 240,000 spectators enjoyed the 80th running of the prestigious Le Mans 24hr race which saw the works Audi squad again dominate with a clean sweep of the podium. A great picture for the boardroom in Ingolstadt and also for their suspension suppliers back in Sweden...

The impressive R18 e-tron quattro diesel hybrid took a historic first Le Mans victory for a hybrid vehicle, with its stablemate in second, whilst R18 ultras, the non-hyrbid derivitive took third and fifth.

Audi's main competitors, Toyota, made their welcome return to Le Mans with an imporess display but were ultimately ruled out of the running with two accidents, one of which most notably was a high speed collision and backflip of the No. 8 car driven by Anthony Davidson as he went airborne at the Mulsanne Corner.

The Thunder from Down Under

Australia’s most popular motorsport, V8 Supercars, continues to pull in record crowds, attract big sponsors and produce great bumper-to-bumper racing. It is one of only two motorsport categories in the world considered more popular in its own country than F1. The other is NASCAR.

The series not only visits such legendary circuits as Eastern Creek, Philip Island and Bathurst and the finest Australia and New Zeeland has to offer. It also host rounds as a support event to Formula One in Melbourne, joins Formula One in Abu Dhabi and for next year the brand new race track ‘Circuit of Americas’ in Austin, Texas.

With the introduction of a new generation V8 Supercar for 2013, Nissan has announced its return and joins the traditional Holden vs. Ford battle in what promises to bring yet further close and exciting racing.

Öhlins is one of the two chosen suspension suppliers which teams can select for shock absorbers. Through the Australian distributor Steve Cramer Products, Öhlins work with a number of top teams. Expect a full feature in a future edition of Performance...

‘The season so far has been an intense battle between the Vodafone Triple Eight Team and the Ford Performance Team. After 13 out of the 28 races the title is now a four way fight between Jamie Whincup, Will Davidson, Mark Winterbotton and Craig Lowndes. However, Holden Racing Team has as always been fighting for the top positions and Garth Tander has with three podiums not strayed far from the title fight with a lot of points still to fight for.

World Tour

The WTCC series has seen the factory Chevrolet squad completely dominate the series so far the reigning Champions return with the same driver-car-team combination which took them to the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles for the past two seasons

Triple Champion Yvan Muller leads the points with teammates Rob Huff and Alain Menu a good distance in front of all the other competitors.

WRC – MINI fights on

In the world of rallying, and in this case the World Rally Championship, the MINI WRC-teams have soldiered on.

After a brilliant second place by Dani Sordo in the opening round, the classic Rally Monte Carlo, followed up by a points finish by Swede Patrik Sandell in Rally Sweden, the MINI Prodrive team has only run selected rounds. In New Zealand they returned, and were back on form. Dani Sordo claimed a sixth place overall and finished on a high with two stage wins on the last day. The signs of improvement were seen already in Rally Portugal where the team brought a lot of updates including new Öhlins gravel dampers and a more powerful engine in the MINI Countryman WRC. Dani Sordo finished first or second on more than 50 % of the stages he completed. These improvements have also seen Armindo Araujo in the points recently.

The Prodrive MINI WRC team will return to action in Rally Germany where they claimed a podium last year.

Rallycross- Tradition meets Showbiz!

The sport of Rallycross has long been enjoyed across Europe creating legends such as Sweden’s Per Eklund and Kenneth Hansen to name just two of many legendary rallycross drivers and it’s fair to say the sport has stayed fairly constant in its content and appeal. However that has been changed radically in a way that only the Americans can!

This year sees the introduction of Global Rallycross - televised on ESPN, the series is run in conjunction with NASCAR Sprint Cup and IndyCar weekends as well as the iconic X Games 18.

Several marques are fielding factory- or importer-supported efforts including Ford, Hyundai, Subaru and Dodge and some big names are taking part including the king of extreme sports Travis Pastrana, Ken Block, Marcus Grönholm, and BMX legend Dave Mirra joined by Tanner Foust who doubles with driving in both America and in the European championship!

Because the series is American (and no insult intended) the events feature an almost unbelievable 70 foot gap jump! Of course this really sorts the men from the boys and the Swedish suspension from some others…..

Land of The Rising Sun

In Japan, Formula Nippon is an internationally recognized single seater championship. Teams are free to choose shock absorber suppliers and several teams have chosen Öhlins, supplied through the Öhlins Japanese distributor Carozzeria.

Last year’s Formula Nippon and 2012 Le Mans 24 hour champion Andre Lotterer continues in the series this year. The German driver is once again in the title hunt after three rounds having won one race as he sits fourth overall in the points. Former F1-driver and Toyota Le Mans driver ENTER NAME HERE who finished second overall to Andre Lotterer drives for the same team as the German and has also won one race so far this season. However he sits second in the championship standings. The shock absorber of choice for them and other teams on the grid is the Öhlins is the TTR. Launched in 2011 the TTR is a development of the Le Mans style shock absorbers.

In the Japanese GT Championship the top class is the GT500 with prototype styled GT-machinery from Nissan, Lexus and Honda.

The races are run over 300km or 1000 km with two drivers and a mandatory driver change. Several Formula Nippon drivers also participate in the GT championship and Öhlins is one of the shock absorber manufacturers represented in the series. After three races the Öhlins equipped LexusSC430 from Team Zent Cerumo heads the championship with drivers Yuji Tachikawa and Kohei Hirate. The top three cars in the championship feature Öhlins suspension. The Honda HSV-010 GT of Takuya Izawa and Naoki Yamamoto sits in second place ahead of the Lexus of Juichi Wakisaka and Hiroaki Ishiura. The Championsip has five races yet to run and as such there’s still a long way to go.

The madness called the 24 hours of Nürburgring

Every year racing enthusiasts visit the Nürburgring in May/June for the annual 24 hour race. The race takes place not only on the GP-circuit but the fearsome and legendary Nordschleife.

One lap takes in 24 km of the most challenging and complex tarmac in the racing world. This is a unique race that also attracts unique competitors and vehicles from all around the world, however it is the factory backed GT3 class that makes up the most competitive runners.

The 2012 race was super-competitive with more or less all marques represented in the top category where the GT3 cars the dominant class. This year the race became a 24-hour long sprint but in the end Audi were victorious with Audi Sport Team Phoenix with drivers Marc Basseng, Christopher Haase, Frank Stippler and Markus Winkelhock taking the spoils.

Öhlins equipped cars also saw class victories.. The diesel powered Peugeot RCZ held the lead for most of the race in the SP2T category and won the class with a 5 minute margin. In the V3 category the Toyota Swiss Racing team proved unbeatable with their Toyota GT86 with shock absorbers built by Öhlins Germany.

Italian Superstars – no longer an Italian affair

The Italian Superstars series has grown in recent years and now has a field of international drivers and a calendar that includes races in UK, Hungary, Belgium, Indonesia and Portugal in addition to the Italian rounds.

The series consists of road-based, in most vases V8-powered, four and two door four-seater saloon cars, with several major manufactures represented. The 2012 grid has 35 drivers participating and after five rounds former F1-driver Vitantonio Liuzzi heads the standings in a Mercedes ahead of GT-ace Thomas Biagi in a BMW and Swedish rookie Johan Kristoffersson driving an Audi.

A majority of the teams are using Öhlins and are serviced and supplied through the Öhlins Italian distributor Andreani Group. There are four race weekends left with Spa in Belgium in mid July being the next round. Only eight points separate the first three and with 10 points available for a race win and with two races per weekend there are still plenty of points to gain. Expect a tough title battle right down to the wire in Indonesia where the final round is held at the Sentul race track.

Racing in the States

Covering the racing in the states is a chapter on its own. With everything from Stock Car Racing to Indy Car, Sprint cars, Dirt Late Model, Rallycross, rallying and GT and touring car racing it’s a subject we expect to return to in a future issue of Performance.