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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Guys,

I wanted to give you another update on where we are with respect to the shock absorber issues of the recent past. So, where are we now compared to two and a half months ago?

1. OPTIONAL KONIS AT COST:
When this began you may remember that we immediately changed all new outgoing kits to include the optional KONI shocks. This didn’t help existing customers though, and we asked for help from Jim at KONI while we were working on a solution with Bilstein. KONI gave us special pricing on a limited number of shocks. They ultimately raised their prices, but as the weeks and months went by, we have continued selling these shocks now about $12 per shock below our costs. To date we have sold and delivered close to 600 sets of KONI coil-over shock kits! The only good news here is that guys got an upgraded and optional shock for a price not available anywhere on the planet. Currently we have approximately 45 sets on order and the guys at KONI are doing a good job of keeping the pipeline filled. We have been selling these parts as a band-aid and while this was never intended to be the solution to the problem, it has served as at least a way for guys to keep driving their cars. The crew at FFR, lead by Patti Maloney have done an exceptional job of shipping these parts in the face of a very high demand, while continuing to do their same jobs each day.

2. BILSTEIN:
Right up front I want to apologize to the guys at Bilstein. I should not have voiced my own frustrations in public. The guys at Bilstein have done a great job of putting together and now implementing a re-work program that not only upgrades the shocks to be stronger, but adds an improved nylon-lined bearing that is lower maintenance. This program is now in place and working and the reports from customers are nothing but good news. FFR customers have called me personally to compliment the professionalism and customer service of Doug Robertson’s operation over at Bilstein. This is HUGE good news as it gives us a path forward where there was none before.

The program has had a few snags that we have been able to address quickly with the guys from Bilstein. For one thing the guys at Bilstein noticed that some of the returned parts (spring hats) were worn or damaged, so we immediately sent supplies of these parts to the crew at Bilsteins re-work facility to help make sure that the shocks and rod-end upgrades are accompanied by other parts that are cosmetically and functionally perfect.

We also have had a challenge (pun intended) with the challenge series as we had to make a call about whether or not we would expedite the change to KONIs in the series for next year now. Jim Schenck has worked closely with NASA and made sure that customers are no longer banned/prevented from running NASA events as long as they have the upgraded Bilstein shocks (14mm shafts and upgraded rod-ends). The only question I haven’t gotten from Jim is whether the Challenge Series Drivers themselves are required to change over to KONIs now, and whether the Bilsteins are grandfathered in (which I believe they are in all NASA series but the FFR challenge series). I have asked Jim to clarify the NASA rules to Challenge Series Drivers, BUT as I understand it, if you have upgraded your Bilsteins you ARE legal and eligible for all NASA race events (ST2, HPDE, etc).


3. INFORMATION:
Finally, as it now appears we have the monkey by the tail, so to speak, we need to do a better job of communication and we need to answer every single possible question that may have been caused by this ordeal. There are likely some of you who may be reading this for the first time, and wondering “are my shocks OK?” (I spoke to a customer who wanted to send us back a set of old Carrera shocks from a Mk1 kit shipped over 10 years ago!, because he “heard” they were no good). With all due respect and thankfulness for the forums and the great actions and help so many community members have contributed… We (FFR) still need to provide a clear and definitive summary of all of this.

With this in mind, I have asked my engineering team to write up a comprehensive guide to installation, inspection, and maintenance of shock absorbers on FFR cars that should be available shortly. As a preface to this guide we will be summarizing the history and detailing the incidences of shock absorber failures, summarizing the previous two tech updates, and simply giving you guys the information you need to make sure you are safe and that your shocks are correctly installed and fit for use.

4. LOOKING AHEAD:
There is a lot of work to be done still. Many customers who bought KONIS at the regular price before all this are waiting on an answer about getting refunds. We have a stock of 406 Bilsteins here that will be re-worked and potentially used for replacement shocks. The additional burden of the KONIs in regular kits are compounding our increases in materials prices and having a huge negative impact on our business. I am working on an announcement that addresses all of these variables. For now, I can rest a tiny bit easier knowing that while not everyone is happy with the current solution, it is at least a path forward and as of this moment no-one was hurt in a Factory Five car as a result.

Thanks for the continued patience, for your honest and sincere support.

Dave Smith
President
 
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