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Supa man: Supashock managing director Oscar Fiorinotto in front of some of his company's products at a recent event in South Australia.

Adelaide damper-maker Supashock takes on the Formula E and 4x4 scene

30 Nov 2015

DAMPER manufacturer Supashock has ventured to polar opposites of the automotive spectrum, testing in Formula E as well as launching a damper range for four-wheel drive and light-commercial vehicle applications.

The Adelaide-based company already supplies local V8 Supercar outfit Prodrive with racing dampers but it has built prototype dampers for testing by Formula One and Formula E teams.

Supashock managing director Oscar Fiorinotto said his product had successfully completed some F1 testing but at €40,000 ($A59,000) apiece in a small market he was more enthusiastic about the future of the Formula E program.

Testing of the Supashock dampers has been done by the Formula E Virgin Racing team and Mr Fiorinotto said he sees that as the future.

“Formula E is a really good thing for us in motorsport,” he said. “You will see some Supashock running in the next race in Argentina.”

The South Australian-owned and operated company expects to have a range of dampers in the market early next year for a wide range of 4WD and commercial vehicles, including the fast-growing LCV utility segment.

Mr Fiorinotto is conscious of the demand for aftermarket suspension systems that boost load-carrying prowess, while not eroding comfort and driveability.

“That’s where we are looking, now we’re working on an over-3.5 tonne GVM upgrade pack that we are looking to develop for distribution next year. That’s a big focus because we understand that’s a big part of the market.

“We’ve used our in-house technology to develop a product at an achievable price. We can use much lighter springs in these but they maintain the ride height under load. The big cylinder system has a pneumatic air pressure effect that keeps the car level,” he said.

The company has manufacturing partners in Adelaide and is also utilising coil and leaf spring units from Queensland-based outfit King Springs, but its dampers – which Supashock says will be price-competitive with the current ARB opposition product – are based on motorsport technology.

“We believe we achieved a damper with exceptional ride, handling and change of direction and we believe it will be successful,” Mr Fiorinotto said.

The company is also working on applying its industrial active suspension technology – designed for use in the commercial sector – to the automotive and wider transport realm.

Currently designed for use in trains and other industrial equipment, the company is aiming to deliver an automotive application that controls body-roll, maintains ride height under load and delivers good ride quality.

Supashock industrial and electronics designer Jonathan Ireland said one of the system’s targets would be to iron out corrugations while carrying sensitive mining equipment.

“It’s a position-based system that maintains ride height,” he said. “It also has a body control element as well, it’s used in non-automotive applications and we’re looking at more of those. We’re looking at a system that irons out corrugations for the mining industry’s sensitive equipment.”

A short demonstration drive of the new passive damper product was offered, with standard and Supashock-equipped examples of the new Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Holden Colorado pick-ups, all independently certified as identical aside from the suspension components.

The track work involved a lane-change “swerve,” a long sweeping double-apex corner and an off-set bump test – none of the vehicles were laden but the Supashock-equipped vehicles did exhibit better body control.

The turn-in from the steering was also more positive than the standard vehicle and the bump test was completed with improved ride comfort and far less kick from the rear end jumping sideways over the bumps the Colorado’s improvement over the standard car in this test was the most marked.

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