15 Mar 2019

From racetrack to battlefield: SA shocks firm in army tender pitch | The Motor Report

Defence work meets motorsport
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An Adelaide firm that manufactures active suspension systems for motorsport is waiting to see if an armed forces tender featuring its technology in military trucks will be successful later this year.

Edinburgh-based Supashock began manufacturing shock absorbers for race cars in 2005, since then it has branched out into mining and defence.

Oscar Fiorinotto, the company’s managing director, said it has designed and manufactured the dampers in Rheinmetall’s Lynx infantry fighting and manoeuvre support vehicles. Rheinmetall is competing with other manufacturers to win a tender for the army’s $10-15 billion Mounted Close Combat Capability programme.

“Lynx provides protection against the full spectrum of threats including blast, IED, direct and indirect fire, cluster munitions and anti-tank guided missiles,” according to Rheinmetall Defence Australia.

“With enhanced lethality and the mobility of a main battle tank, Lynx will enable the army to cope with the complex nature of warfighting in diverse environments and against a range of adaptive threats.”

Fiorinotto believes the dampening technology is a huge improvement over what is currently available to armed forces to prevent combat vehicles from rolling over in tough environments.

“A lot of defence hardware today is still running more traditional technology,” Fiorinotto explained.

“But we have focused on endurance, durability, reducing maintenance costs, and most importantly survivability. That gives us an edge. Giving the commander an advantage in the battlefield is important.”

With mobility being one of the most crucial in infantry fighting vehicles, Fiorinotto claims Supashock’s passive system is “extremely responsive”. The proprietary dampening system allows greater flexibility in large vehicles, improving stability and giving troops better ride quality without extreme damping force.

The partnership between the business and Rheinmetall has blossomed since the German company trialled Supashock’s shock absorbers in one of its HX series trucks in 2016. Rheinmetall is now a 49 percent shareholder in Fiorinotto’s company.

“We met at a time when they were looking at increasing capabilities, so we developed a system. The German engineers were sceptical that we could improve on their technology, but they were impressed with what they got,” Fiorinotto said.  

“German companies, especially ones in our space, are the best in the world. A product has to be good if they are to work with you.”

Though defence now accounts for some 50 percent its business, Supashock’s heart remains in motorsport.

The only Australian shock absorber company to have won the Bathurst 1,000 and Supercars championship double in one year with a product designed and manufactured in Australia, it signed a deal last month with racing team Erebus Motorsport as its distributor for vehicles in a range of state, national and international categories.

“We are proud of our achievements together,” said Fiorinotto. “This partnership heralds a new future for our two organisations where Erebus Motorsport will lead Supashock’s motorsport sales activities.”

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