After a two-year absence, Swedish suspension specialists Ohlins will return to Motocross grand prix action in 2010 with the factory Yamaha Monster Energy team.
The alliance between the two parties was recently confirmed after successful tests and will see 2008 world champion David Philippaerts race with Ohlins in the MX1 series, while new recruit Gautier Paulin will use the technology in the MX2 class.
“The feeling [with the front fork] was very good from the first laps, the new Öhlins equipment allowed me to feel real good on the bike,” said Philippaerts. “The forks flow well on the small roughness, and they are very progressive on bigger holes and on jump landing. But, most of all, on corners they made my Yamaha quicker and allowed me to be faster.
“[The rear shock] is very good as well. It makes the rear end very steady, especially on the corner exits were the traction is noticeably superior. We tested the bike on different tracks and I always felt good, on any kind of ground.”
After helping Christophe Pourcel to the 2007 MX2 crown, Ohlins left the MXGP scene to concentrate on other activities - including MotoGP and Superbike, where it is now the market leader - but is now ready for a 'factory' Motocross comeback.
Created by Kenth Ohlin in the mid-1970s, Ohlins won its first world championship in motocross in 1978 - one of 200 titles gained across many disciplines of motorsport.
“We were one of the main players in the motocross long time ago, when we started,” confirmed Kenth Ohlin, Öhlins president and founder. “After that, at the beginning of the nineties we did also the automotive racing market and the road bikes. At the end of the nineties we still were main players in the motocross, but after that we put a lot of focus on other things for the company to grow worldwide in different products.
“Five years ago we started to discuss which direction to take in motorcycles, in motocross especially, and one year later I took this decision: we invest the money we need to be on the top again, but we know this is going to take several years. It took us one more extra year, as we expected from the beginning. Now I feel that we have reached a level that we can be proud of, and I think that we are back at the level that we can beat the rest of the market.”
Ohlins has worked with Michele Rinaldi before, winning world titles for the team and Yamaha in the early 1990s (1994, 125cc with Bob Moore, and 1992, 250cc with Donny Schmit).