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Unsprung Heroes – From Dakar Rally to Roborace

Mick Gardner Racing may not be a familiar name but their success spreads far and wide both on the sporting and production divisions.
Mick Gardner Racing may not be a familiar name in the motorsport media or grandstands but their success spreads far and wide both on the sporting and production divisions.

With international teams relying on Mick Gardner Racing (MGR) from the Middle East, Poland, China and South Africa plus an eye-catching list of supercar manufacturers as customers, MGR work comfortably out of a low key base it its native Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

One of Öhlins suspension's biggest outlets in Europe, MGR have become the go-to destination for those looking to tap into their knowledge of the art of rebound, bounce and drive.

MGR's champions include British GT4 title winners Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson in their Optimum Motorsports Ginetta G55 GT4 with the Black Mamba squad performing well in the GT Cup class.

As a demonstration of the scoop of MGR's involvement, it helped win the Quad class at the Dakar Rally with Polish star Rafal Sonik but easily their most 'unique' work came from their suspension development for the 'Roborace' car. This self-driving race car DevBot prototype has gone viral around the world as the first ever 'robo race car' and will debut with the Formula E series.

In the Lotus Elise Trophy & Lotus Cup MGR supplied a good number of the competitors including Production Champion Stuart Ratcliff in his Lotus Elise S3 Cup R and Supersport Champion Adam Mackay, driving a Lotus Exige V6 Cup R.

They also won championships with drivers in Formula Ford 1600, Historic Racing, Rallying including Ian Wilson (Subaru Impreza) - Scottish Rally Championship class champion and have been prominent in Hill Climb, Time Attack and Autograss racing.

With silverware piling up MGR have also attracted the interest of some serious manufacturers who use them to supply and sort some of their high-end race cars including Ariel (both two and four wheel), Ginetta, Lotus and perhaps most incredibly, Swedish supercar builders Koenigsegg.

“I have to shake my head sometimes and think how are a group of guys from Barnsley developing the suspension for Koessnegg and winning Championships all round the world?” Russ Walton, MGR owner, said. “I guess the key is learning. We're always learning, we don't miss a weekend at a race of some sort developing new techniques and how to get the most out of the latest generation Öhlins suspension systems.

“It's so varied, one minute we are creating a big batch of dampers for a new race team in China, the next someone comes in for a vintage hillclimb car set-up. It's great really, it certainly keeps us on our toes.”

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