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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All!

My name is Scott Ahlman, President of Ahlman Performance LLC and I am new to AudiR8Talk. We are also a new owner of a 2012 Audi R8 V10 manual for suspension development work on this car as well as chassis related videos on and off of the road/track - coming soon! I will start joining the chassis related threads (suspension, shocks, wheels, tires, weight, etc) right away!

My background - My childhood passion and focus led me to a chassis/vehicle dynamics design and development career for the past 25 years including so many incredible opportunities at the top of IndyCar and NASCAR as well as high performance cars like the R8 (Greater detail on our results and my background can be seen at AhlmanPerformance.com)

My professional career started Ford Motor Company in 1994 as a chassis/vehicle dynamics engineer for 12 years, which was highlighted by:
Chassis Design and Ride and Handling Development Engineer for Ford Light Truck.

○ Ford's only Vehicle Dynamics Engineer for the Ford Craftsman Truck teams in 1995.

Vehicle Dynamics Engineer for Team Rahal in ChampCar CART for 5 years working with drivers Bobby Rahal, Bryan Herta, Kenny Brack and Max Papis.
This is where my 25 year relationship with Ohlins started since Team Rahal ran Ohlins at the time and they sent me to Ohlins shock school in Sweden.

Chassis Design and development of the 2005-2006 Ford GT for 4 years. I was one of the four who led the chassis design side (suspension geometry and bushings, tires, the coil-overs, bars and control arms).
After my design work I was also a ride and handling development engineer on the GT due to my driving background and certification at Ford.



• I left Ford to start Ahlman Engineering in 2006 where I spent the IndyCar season as a Vehicle Dynamics Engineer for Rahal Lettermen Lanigan with drivers Danica Patrick and Buddy Rice.

• In the Fall of 2006 I (Ahlman Engineering) was contracted as a Chassis/Vehicle Dynamics Engineer with Ford Racing and Roush Fenway Racing, which included working with Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Jamie McMurray and Marcos Ambrose. I ended being a kind of "offensive coordinator" developing a weekly playbook for car setup for our teams. We were fortunate to win over 30 races, two Daytona 500 wins and two very close second places in the Championship with Edwards over my seven years with the team.


• In 2013, Ahlman Performance started developing our Adjustable Ahlman Performance Ohlins Coil-over Package for the 2005-2006 Ford GT as I was not happy with the options out there for Ford GT Owners. We have been selling and supporting these Coil-Overs for Ford GT owners since.
• In 2013, seven of us at Ahlman Engineering were vehicle dynamics engineering support for three of Honda's lead IndyCar teams for five years including direct team support for many wins including the Indy500.
• In 2015, Ahlman Performance developed custom Ohlins Suspension (coilovers - damping, spring rates, bumpstops/gaps, and ride heights) for Mark Heidaker and Kevin Kesterson at M2K Motorsports and their 2500 HP twin turbo Ford GT in their quest for world Record Speed with stability, grip and power down in the standing Mile. (they had been running the stock Ford GT suspension we had developed at Ford up to 270 mph, which was getting dicey since we only intended it to go 205 mph!). M2K Motorsports kept moving the World Record and are now at 300 mph in the standing mile with our suspension doing 240 mph at the half mile mark!


Ahlman Performance - we develop, sell and support Ohlins highest end suspension packages for the Audi R8, Porsche GT3/RS, Porsche GT4 and the 2005-2006 Ford GT. We also sell and support nearly 50 other Ohlins road and track packages for Audi, Porsche and BMW. Please see AhlmanPerformance.com/Products for detail on all of our packages, especially for the R8.


Our partnership with Ohlins results in the best balance between road and track application (depending on your needs) providing unmatched:
• Performance and Refinement
○ There is a reason Ohlins has been used for decades at the top of worldwide motorsports. They are the best you can buy - hands down. Our further development and support can help you adjust as your needs change for road or track. From a bias for comfort to performance and anywhere in between.
Craftsmanship
○ We are a function AND form company. It has to look as great as it works. Some of our customers have told us they aren't sure if they should just hang their Ahlman Performance Ohlins Coil-Overs on the wall or put them on their car!
Quality and Reliability
○ Our highest mileage Ford GT owner has over 50,000 miles on our Adjustable Ohlins Coil-Overs without a rebuild needed when we dyno'd them to check.
Package
○ No remote reservoir to package as shown in this picture. No need to make brackets and cut up your beautiful R8 to accommodate reservoirs and lines. Just bolt them on and go.
Adjustability
○ The Ohlins design has all of the fluid flow going through the adjusters so each click is actually felt as a change with a huge range available.
○ You can lower your ride height over an inch from stock. Tell us the ride height you want on your R8 and we will calculate it, set the coil-over, you bolt them on and go. This is what we have been doing for 6 years for our customers. This is not an iterative process!
Technical Support
○ We have the background and ability to help you adjust for your needs and vary from road to track including alignment adjustments for camber and toe as well as tire decisions!

Let me know how I can help you with your R8 chassis development from our suspensions to tire choices and anything in between. I look forward to interacting with you all on AudiR8Talk!

Scott Ahlman
 

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Welcome to the forum! Quite an impressive background.

If you hang around the board, you'll quickly come to learn that one of the biggest suspension issues of the R8 is the premature failure of its magnetic ride shocks. Yes, there's always the option to replace them with more traditional passive dampers, but many of the owners (myself included) prefer the adjustability of the magnetic ride.

So... your biggest business opportunity around here could be coming up with a direct after-market adjustable damper replacement (that doesn't leak!) - the forum would likely build a small shrine to you, and you'd have a flood of happy customers. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you for the welcome guys. Sorry about the CV...it was recommended, but way too much. :)

I missed the most important part - how much I enjoy the R8. Such an incredible car that I enjoy driving a great deal and carving through our hills. Everything about it. My first I can't wait to get her to the track.

EZMAAS - I did review the R8 a lot before buying it and this forum so I was aware of the premature magnetic ride failures (my Ohlins teammates made me aware of it as well) and the AC compressor failures. Question - do you switch to sport mode on smooth twisty roads and then back to "normal" for rougher pavement and cruising? Ohlins and I discussed an electronic adjustable (by a phone application) as an option a few years back that they have used in one application. I will talk to them again about this option.
 

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I absolutely agree with Ezmaass regarding aftermarket magnetic struts that will replace the OEM ones directly - plug and play.
 

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If you made an aftermarket, adjustable height (coilover), with magnetic ride function, that plug & played into the OEM shock connections, didn’t leak, and works directly with the mag ride button (no phone apps please)...


Literally every forum member on here would buy a set of 4 from you tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I guess this is why I am asking how people are using the mag ride because mine is working and I can surely tell. Sport mode on most "normal" American roads (rougher) seems way too aggressive and not something I use. Especially if I am pushing the car a bit it is actually less grip on rougher roads. The wheels don't follow the road as well and the car rides awful. I have put sport mode on for smooth twisties, but the difference is pretty small. It helps slow roll down a little more on entry, but it won't affect roll angle as only springs and bars affect the roll and pitch angles. Sport mode will affect corner entry some (which I don't push too hard on the road), but once the car is set into the corner the dampers have no effect except for on bumps...in which if it is the least but bumpy normal mode is better.

The fact that Audi went passive on their even higher performance R8 models also tells us a lot...
 

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I think you have put into words what I am feeling with regards to the mag settings. I find I use the normal setting much more than the sport setting for pretty much the reasons you describe. We do have some roads out here that lend themselves to the sport setting, but typically normal setting is best for me.

The question I have for you is if the mag function is adding to the damping ability of the shock more than a non-mag shock. As I currently understand things, the mag shock is constantly getting input and adjusting its damping continually. Is this true or is the only difference between a mag shock and a standard shock is that you can click it to sport or normal setting?
 

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Thank you for the welcome guys. Sorry about the CV...it was recommended, but way too much. :)

I missed the most important part - how much I enjoy the R8. Such an incredible car that I enjoy driving a great deal and carving through our hills. Everything about it. My first I can't wait to get her to the track.

EZMAAS - I did review the R8 a lot before buying it and this forum so I was aware of the premature magnetic ride failures (my Ohlins teammates made me aware of it as well) and the AC compressor failures. Question - do you switch to sport mode on smooth twisty roads and then back to "normal" for rougher pavement and cruising? Ohlins and I discussed an electronic adjustable (by a phone application) as an option a few years back that they have used in one application. I will talk to them again about this option.
So, as I understand it, there are a few factors here with the magnetic ride:

- Continuously variable adjustability: the shocks are supposedly making micro adjustments all the time as the car is driving.

- Manual adjustment: the shocks can be put in "normal" or "stiff" mode via the suspension button.

I do find the R8 to be a very supple ride (for a car in this class) in its normal mode. How much of that is due to the magnetic ride continuously adjusting? I don't know.

In the "stiff" mode (refraining from calling it "Sport" as not to confuse with the actual "Sport" button for the transmission and exhaust), I find that it's certainly too stiff for most average roads. However, I absolutely use the stiffer setting on roads that are smooth and where I'm pushing the car. In fact, I've found it can be scary without doing so. On those quiet, twisty country roads that have been recently paved (rare but they're out there!), I routinely use this mode.

As others have commented, a plug-and-play replacement is what would make for a compelling and successful offering here. I wouldn't go for something that requires a phone app and leaves the button on the console defunct. For me, it would really need to be a like-for-like swap.

A set of OEM magnetic ride shocks run around $8k+ from Audi. So someone could really make a killing here if even only offering durability at the same price.
 

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Agree completely ez.

And if you offer them in adjustable ride heights, you’d get takers immediately, not just the ones who are waiting on theirs to leak.

If you can offer a superior mag-ride shock to OEM, that’s adjustable height so people can lower their cars, but one that also works plug and play with OEM connections, ECU, and buttons, you’ll find a lot of sales quickly.

If you just offer another coil over that you say is the “best” (as well it might be), you’ll just be another vendor selling coil overs and some may chose them, some may not. Not a very innovative product.

If you do it the way ez and I are describing, you’ll be offering a completely unique offering and a solution to so many peoples problems. They’d chose your product every time.

I’m not a fan of items going on the car (tunes, pedal box, exhaust) that have phone apps and remotes. Make it work integrated into the car, so it works forever, for me, for my kids in the future. Not for the next few years I have my iPhone and access to that specific app. I’d chose NOT to buy something like that, purely for that reason.
 

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Hi Scott, have you driven an R8 with stock vs ohlins ttx on the road? If yes, can you give a bit of insight into the differences beyond the ability to form up the ride on the mag shocks. Also, I visited your website and didn't see any specs or pricing for R8's. Do you have a set up that you recommend? Thanks, Earl
 

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I’m not a fan of items going on the car (tunes, pedal box, exhaust) that have phone apps and remotes. Make it work integrated into the car, so it works forever, for me, for my kids in the future. Not for the next few years I have my iPhone and access to that specific app. I’d chose NOT to buy something like that, purely for that reason.
^^^ This 100%
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I don't think these are continuously variable for a few reasons including the fact they could feel more forgiving on the rough stuff even in a stiffer setting and they don't. Super harsh: 2-3 points worse in ride for me. Further the fact that they went passive on the GT's and V10+ tells me that also. If they were active and better...they would put the better ones on the higher performance. However, I also will try a short run with just the magnetic ride deleted and report back.


When you say "scary" without the stiffer setting what is the car doing that doesn't feel right or is scary? I am asking because different people key off of different things...even our very top driver's have different things in different order they key off of for balance of the car. Steering wheel torque, vision/yaw, side force in the seat (grip), body movements, security of the rear, predictability/linearity and so on. For me when I drive it in the stiff setting the car felt "on top of the track" as we say instead of "in the track". "Up on its toes". I actually was hustling it a bit and the car felt less secure in the rear (less grip), the steering got pretty light and the tiniest crack in the road really upset the car. And it feels like I am bouncing on the tires as the suspension seems locked out.

Damping in an overalll sense from low speed to high speed should be set heavily based on damping ratio with fine tuning for handling and platform control. Damping ratio is simply of function of stiffness in the system (springs, bars, bumpstops, tire rates) and Mass (sprung and unsprung) to the amount of damping in the system. So changing just the damping without a change to stiffness or mass doesn't really make sense and just beats up the tire badly if we have too much. And actually results in a less damped system as we bounce on the tires. And raises the pressures a lot in the shock, which is not helping the seals and failures. So for feel/performance and durability I won't run the stiffer mode. Therefore, I hate to say it, but the stiffer setting seems to be more a marketing feature. The F360 Modena had similar as well. But if you like it and feel better about hustling the car then obviously run it. For sure you are getting information back from the road sooner and that is always nice. I just don't like the tradeoffs that come with it and it doesn't make sense to me.

I understand the desire for plug and play for these with durability and ride height adjustable. Unfortunately, I don't foresee us (Ahlman Performance (AP) and Ohlins) having this solution for you. And your guys point is taken on the phone app. I will not pursue that option. Cars like the R8 do a lot of sitting so even passive dampers like we had on the 05 FGT had plenty of early failures miles wise. They had a lot of years on them, but not many miles. We didn't/couldn't really test for it. But what happens is these cars often sit for a while and the shaft seals dry out and stick to the shaft. The car moves again and tears the seal. Add ferrous particulates to the oil and now the difficulty on seal durability is even worse. Then add much higher pressures in the stiffer mode, with metal particles in the fluid and the challenge further compounds. This is an area the Ohlins are superior to everyone in that they originally developed their suspensions and dampers for motorcycles, which sit a a lot.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
If you just offer another coil over that you say is the “best” (as well it might be), you’ll just be another vendor selling coil overs and some may chose them, some may not. Not a very innovative product.
Well, I guess that's why I gave my 25 year highlights as a chassis/vehicle dynamics guy with results to back it up including ChampCar, IndyCar, NASCAR, Ford GT. And we have an R8 to truly support our customers like we have for 6 years on the FGT and beyond. I actually model the R8 like our IndyCars, Stock Cars and FGT and so on. And Ohlins speaks for itself. So, while I am not offended by your comment I don't agree we are like any other vendor.

Innovation - I guess that depends on your definition. You wouldn't call a NASCAR Cup car innovative in the least sense, but we put the same level of laser scanning every track, modeling that 3500 pound taxi cab blasting around it and figuring out the best set up before we turn a wheel. The same tools and process we use in F1, IndyCar and so on. Just different tradeoffs. And it is a big blend of art and science because these are models not reality - some parts we can use perfectly and others require a lot of judgment. So this is what Ahlman Performance provides our customers. That blend. That support. Not just coil-overs. To us the innovation is putting the best combination together for handling and ride. Making the whole greater than the sum of the parts and doing it better than any one else. Our 25 year partnership with Ohlins is a big part of that equation for what we are selling and supporting.

Further, the "magnetic ride" dampers are actually called magneto rheological dampers and I drove the first prototypes with them in 1994. So they have been around a long time. Not a new concept.
 
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