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.