Nissan Micra K12 R | 2003

Deutsche Übersetzung via Google Translate

Nissan Micra K12 R von 2003


Nissan GB has created the craziest, road-legal Micra ever. It’s called the R which is just what you’ll be screaming when this mid-engined, mad little car rockets you to 62 mph in less than five seconds and onto a 150 mph top speed.

The Micra R started its life as a concept car at the last Geneva Motor Show. But its designer, Christopher Reitz, didn’t want it to stay that way – he wanted his creation to be driven. And Nissan Motor (GB)’s managing director, Brian Carolin, in conjunction with Ray Mallock Limited (RML) has made it happen.

RML ran Nissan’s super successful British Touring Car Championship campaign in the late Nineties. And motorsport (for the road) is very much what the Micra R is about. From nose to tail the R is unlike any Nissan Micra ever produced. For example, you won’t find an engine under its bonnet – just a radiator and a fuel tank. And the Micra’s clever rear sliding seat has been binned in favour of a 265 bhp fully race-prepared engine. It’s still got the Intelligent Key system, though.

The R started life as a three-door Micra 1.4 SX. Most of the body was removed so that RML could match the dramatic styling of the Geneva concept car including its 100 mm stretched out wheel arches and Nissan Motorsport Flame Red and Blade Silver paint job. Care was then taken to adapt the aerodynamics and air intakes to suit its mid-engined layout.

The engine is located beneath an aluminium honeycomb cover with a carefully cut glass porthole to allow a glimpse of the carbon fibre cam covers. It’s based on the 2.0-litre unit that powered the winning BTCC Primera with two choices of engine ‘map’, both of which are governed by a MoTeC M4 Electronic Control Unit.

Power is transmitted via a Hewland six-speed gearbox with sequential shift. The short racing exhaust exits centrally at the rear through a meaty looking big bore pipe. But an even more noticeable change over the standard car are the R’s 18 inch,

18 spoke alloys specially machined for the project by Image Wheels. Toyo supplied its highest specification road car tyre, the Proxes T1-S with a ‘footprint’ that’s nine inches wide. Behind those wheels lie enormous drilled disc brakes front and rear with four-pot callipers. Measuring 350 mm at the front and 330 mm at the rear, these brakes were naturally supplied by Brembo – the same company that stops Nissan’s 350Z and Skyline GT-R. There’s commonality with other Nissans in the R’s radiator (Almera dCi 136) and suspension (also Almera).

Inside, the R is just as curvy as a standard Micra. But maybe not quite as comfy. Seated low down in Alcantara upholstered racing seats, the driver is faced with a suede rimmed Sabelt racing wheel. The standard dashboard, door panels and centre console have been flocked to give them a velvety, non-reflective finish. And behind the normal Micra instrument binnacle is a MoTeC digital data screen. There’s no carpet on the floor of this Micra, instead RML thought aluminium sheeting more appropriate matching the integral roll bar. There’s no air conditioning but the R retains its electric door mirrors and three cupholders even though the car can only seat two…

And what a ride they’ll have. Sadly few will get the chance to drive the Micra R, just some lucky journalists and customers but Nissan will be exhibiting the R at various shows around the country starting with the Japanese Performance Show at Santa Pod. So even if this mad Micra isn’t a car for the masses – the R is strictly a one-off – Nissan wants masses to see it. And Christopher Reitz, the Micra’s designer, will be the first in the queue.

Meet the Nissan Micra R, a 150 mph hot hatch that proves the new Micra really is quite unlike anything else on the road.

From bonnet to boot the R is unlike any Nissan Micra ever produced. For a start you won’t be able to lift the lid on its remarkable performance by looking under the bonnet; all you’ll see is a radiator and fuel tank. And you won’t be able to carry anything on the back seats or in the boot because that’s where a 265 bhp fully race-prepared engine sits.

While maintaining the distinct shape and friendly persona of the standard Micra, the R has the squat stance and purposeful poise of a sporting thoroughbred along with performance that matches its looks. There’s a 0-60 mph time of under five seconds and a top speed in excess of 150 mph.

Inside, the stripped racing car-style cockpit features sculpted Sabelt racing seats, five-point safety harnesses and the kind of touches you’d expect in any competition car such as a visible engine Electronic Control Unit, prominent fire extinguisher and hi-tech digital dash display.

But this is no Sunday fun car. It might be strictly a one-off, designed and built with performance driving in mind, but it can be everyday transport too. Chief designer Christopher Reitz added: “It’s very easy to build a £500,000 car if you’re doing everything from scratch. We wanted to do something that was a dream car but that you didn’t have to win the lottery to able to afford. Take the example of the Mini Cooper S in the Sixties. It was a successful competition car but it wasn’t too expensive if you wanted to own one.”

Affordable it might be but one thing’s certain: it won’t just be hot-hatch owners who will be drooling with envy; the Micra R will give supercar drivers something to think about too. And Reitz would like to see it in competition as well. “I think it would be great to have a one-make series,” he said. “If you provide cars that are all equal as well as safe and fun to drive the skill of the driver starts to become more important than it is in many areas of motorsport.”

With the engine now sitting where the rear seats and fuel tank are usually located, RML has used all its experience to make the Micra R into a reliable and viable every day machine. To cool the engine, a radiator from an Almera 2.2 dCi has been slotted beneath the bonnet and cleverly the engineers have used the now redundant exhaust tunnels beneath the body to fit cooling ducts. Integrated with a touring car style aerodynamic ‘splitter’ at the front these ducts ensure that the engine can be fed with more than enough cool air to keep it performing at its peak.

The Micra R’s roots lie in a concept car called C+C penned by Nissan Design Europe’s studio chief designer Christopher Reitz for the 2002 Paris Motor Show. Reitz revealed: “All the guys on the design team are real petrol heads who love driving and we’re really proud of Nissan’s racing heritage too. We wanted to make a cool derivative of the Micra; a car that would reflect these things and evoke emotion in other people.”

For the 2003 Geneva Motor Show Reitz went a step further. He said: “We did sketches for the Micra R and everyone who saw them said it was really cool and that we should do a road car version. We presented these drawings to design director Shiro Nakamura in Japan. He likes it when people are proactive. He loved the car, said he wanted a red one to drive around in, and gave us the green light to go ahead.”

The result was a concept version of what a Micra R should look like, built by Spanish engineering company Mazel. But it wasn’t until Nissan Motor (GB)’s managing director Brian Carolin clapped eyes on the machine that it germinated the seed of an idea in his mind and the real Micra R was conceived.

Carolin’s vision was for a one-off machine that would capitalise on the new Micra’s flexible and adaptable platform; that would be equally at home on road or race track; and that would celebrate the Micra’s little-known sporting pedigree from Japanese and Spanish saloon car championships.

Christopher Reitz explained: “It’s difficult to convince people from a sketch. But it’s a totally different ballgame when they can touch it, see it and even drive it. I’m certain that the moment people sit in the car they will be infected by the Micra R virus and want one.”

Top British engineering company Ray Mallock Limited (RML), which ran Nissan’s super successful British Touring Car Championship campaign in the late Nineties, was commissioned to come up with a design and turn it into reality.

At the end of April this year, two brand new three-door 1.4SX models were delivered to RML’s HQ in Wellingborough, Northants. Then the experts at RML set to work…

The first job was to find the best engine for a high performance addition to the Micra range. The choice varied from either turbocharging or supercharging the existing unit to employing two engines, using the V6 from the 350Z or building something a bit more bespoke. In the end the decision was taken to draw on the normally-aspirated 2.0-litre engine that formed the basis of the 1999 British Touring Car Championship winning Primera.

Central to the engineers’ brief was that despite its extra power, the Micra R should be easy, fun and rewarding to drive – just like the standard car. The result was the radical resolution to mount the engine behind the front seats. RML’s Micra R project manager Trevor Keir explained: “Believe it or not there is enough room for the

2.0-litre in the conventional engine bay but with the weight of it and front-wheel drive you would end up with a tendency for understeer and although safe that wouldn’t have been much fun for experienced drivers who want to push on. However, if we mid-mounted the unit, the car could be rear-wheel drive and easy to control for all levels of driver.”

Of course it wasn’t as simple as just removing one engine and slotting another in. The entire architecture of the car had to be altered to cope with mid-mounting an engine that has three times more power than the 88bhp in the most powerful Micra in the range. And RML was keen that this should be a real Nissan and therefore elected to use Nissan components complemented with bespoke racing parts.

The suspension is straight from the Almera with both front and rear sub frame using independent MacPherson struts. Combined with adjustable three-way Proflex dampers this has allowed the engineers at RML to tune the Micra R’s handling to be as sporty as possible while retaining the level of comfort that has won the standard supermini so many admirers.

The steering too has had to be altered to adapt to the new suspension and at the same time ensure that the Micra R offers its driver even more precise feedback required for track performance. As a consequence the Micra’s state-of-the-art electrically assisted speed sensing power steering has been replaced by the Almera’s hydraulic power steering, although the original Micra steering column has been maintained.

As with any sports car, chassis rigidity is vital to enable drivers to make the most of the combination of finely tuned handling and a powerful engine. And RML has used all the expertise gleaned over nearly 20 years in the motorsport business to increase the stiffness of the Micra’s already rigid bodyshell by another 30 per cent.

Central to this has been a built-in roll cage. With its visible supporting struts this bespoke device gives the cabin a sporting feel, increases occupant safety and makes the car much stiffer. Rigidity and therefore handling have also been aided by beefed up suspension mounting points and a bracing device beneath the bonnet. But the really clever part is that despite the bigger engine, heavier suspension components and 40 kg of extra weight thanks to the integral roll cage, judicious paring down of non-essential equipment and the use of lighter aluminium in chassis parts means that the 1,000 kg target weight has been achieved.

In its standard form the new Micra is unlike anything else on the road thanks to its innovative rounded ‘arch’ styling. While this gives the Micra the kind of presence that most cars can only aspire to, the R takes that theme a step further – without going too over the top.

Chief designer Christopher Reitz confirmed: “We’ve kept the Nissan DNA in it and it has maintained its Micra-ness. It’s equivalent to a bodybuilder. The Micra R is the same guy as them. He’s just been down the gym now!”

Although traditionally a visual cue for a high-performance car, air scoops sprouting out of various parts of the body have no part on this machine. “We could have had them,” said project manager Trevor Keir. “But we preferred to take the time to engineer the car properly so that it didn’t need them.” The result is a vehicle that looks purposeful without being posy, sporty but not silly.

Reitz added: “I really like the way we’ve pulled the wheel arches out. It is something we did on the 350Z and you will see it throughout the whole Nissan line up. The production car already sits on the road really nicely and the wheel arches accentuate that really nicely. But personally speaking my favourite part is the rear end. I love the sporty diffuser and big exhaust.”

The look is finished off with a smart paint job comprising flame red and blade silver to reflect Nissan’s official racing colours. “I love the colours,” Reitz said. “They’re its battle dress, except rather than camouflaging it they draw attention to the car.”

Mid-mounted 2.0-litre BTCC engine
Revised independent suspension all round
Integral race-style roll cage
30% increase in chassis rigidity

There aren’t many people who can say they drive a car with an engine that’s the same specification as a title winning touring car power plant. But drivers of the Micra R will be able to make that confident claim, safe in the knowledge that the engine sitting behind them formed the basis for Laurent Aiello’s successful 1999 BTCC campaign when he won 10 of the 26 races on his way to lifting the British Touring Car Championship crown.

The engine – located beneath the aluminium honeycomb cover with a carefully cut glass porthole to allow envious onlookers a glimpse of the carbon fibre cam covers – uses the block of a Nissan 2.0-litre. But this unit is anything but standard.

In full touring car specification it features high-lift cams and has a bespoke racing plenum to enable as much air to be fed into it as possible. There are two choices of engine ‘map’, both of which are governed by the engine’s MoTeC M4 Electronic Control Unit to enable the driver to choose the most suitable power delivery for prevailing conditions. In wet or town conditions the driver can choose to limit the maximum brake horse power to 250 at 7,000 rpm.

To make the most of the car round a race track, the second programme gives the driver access to 265 bhp at 8,000 rpm. With this power on tap in a vehicle weighing 1,000 kg it promises to be an exciting ride. “The two things that spring to my mind when I think about this car are adrenaline and a scared face because it will be faster than drivers expect,” its designer Christopher Reitz said.

Power is transmitted via a Hewland six-speed gearbox with a sequential shift. It features straight cut gears to give the trademark whine of a thoroughbred racing car. This also means that when peak revs are being used and there’s little variation in engine torque drivers can carry out clutchless gear changes.

It isn’t only the gearbox that gives the Micra R a sporty sound. The short racing exhaust exits centrally at the rear through a meaty looking big bore pipe. And even though the exhaust has a double silencer it enhances rather than emasculates the engine sound to give it a throaty throb that lends the Micra R a thoroughly distinctive audible presence. Despite this, the utmost has been done to ensure that the sound in the cockpit remains engaging rather than arduous to the occupants.

Perhaps the most noticeable difference between the Micra R and its standard sibling are the bigger wheels. Instead of the 15-inch rims used by the supermini in normal guise, the Micra R sits on 18-inch 18-spoke alloys. These were machined specially for the project by specialist company Image Wheels and have all the bolts at the back of the wheel so that from the side the three-piece units look as if they’ve been hewn from a single piece of metal.

To ensure that the power is transmitted effectively to the road, Toyo supplied its highest specification road car tyre, the Proxes T1-S with a ‘footprint’ that’s nine inches wide. To cope with these and a wider track than the standard car, the bodywork around the wheel arches has had to be made 100 mm wider. It was sculpted out of glass fibre to save weight and helps lend the car a more aggressive stance.

The assertive appearance has been aided by lowering the car’s ride height significantly. While a standard Micra has 140 mm from the bottom of the sill to the ground at the front and 160 mm at the rear, the sportier R has closed the gap significantly to 100 mm and 110 mm. But because of clever engineering no major component, whether suspension arm or exhaust pipe, is any closer to the road than on a standard car. The Micra R may look mean but it’s still kind to its occupants, allowing a firm but forgiving ride and ensuring that even taking speed humps into consideration nothing but the bumpiest track should be out of bounds.

Full bespoke racing safety cell
Racing seats and five-point belts
On-board fire extinguisher and electric cut-off switch
Ventilated disc brakes all round

Any racing driver will tell you that safety is always at the top of the list when it comes to specifying a competition car. And although it’s unlikely to go head to head with rivals on a track, the Micra R has followed the example of the standard car and been built with safety as a major consideration.

Although the Micra has been fully re-engineered to create the R, RML’s experts managed to preserve the original car’s passive safety structure which employs high strength steel to give the cabin exceptional rigidity. The front and rear deformable crash structures are also fully intact. But in addition to this the driver and passenger of the Micra R are cocooned in a full 44.45 mm diameter T45 steel safety cell that RML built specifically for the project.

And those aren’t the only precautions it took. The driver and passenger sit in fully adjustable figure-hugging Sabelt racing seats. They are restrained in their seats by a three-inch wide, five-point FIA approved Sabelt racing harness.

Those aren’t the only extras designed to help if the worst happens. There’s an on-board fire extinguisher that plays foam all around the cockpit, engine bay and petrol tank area in the event of fire. The petrol tank is relocated from beneath the back seat to the space beneath the bonnet that once housed the engine. As it’s in this more forward position, the metal casing is fitted with a Premier Fuel Systems puncture-proof flexible fuel cell just in case a front-on smash damages it. And for good measure there’s an electrical cut-off switch that will shut down the entire car if pressed in an emergency.

But the utmost has been done to ensure that none of these precautions is ever needed. In addition to its finely balanced handling the Micra R features enormous drilled disc brakes front and rear with four-pot callipers. Measuring 350 mm at the front and 330 mm at the rear the brakes were specified by Brembo as the best possible way of hauling the car to a halt without suffering from the fade that can sometimes accompany normal road car braking systems during the kind of prolonged and heavy use they are subjected to on a track.

These brakes are also fully adjustable with a brake balance switch located beneath the bonnet to prevent drivers getting carried away and adjusting the brakes on the go. The only thing that the Micra R is missing compared to its standard siblings is the full complement of electronic driver aids like anti-lock brakes and electronic brake force distribution as these would have been too expensive to refine for a one-off car. In addition, all air bags have been removed as the engineers were concerned that they might be provoked into deploying in extreme driving conditions.


Removable racing steering wheel
Multi-function digital data screen replaces analogue dials
Practical touches like in-car storage and hi-tech Intelligent Key remain
Comfortable cockpit retains a distinctly sporting feel

The engineers behind the Micra R are the first to admit that this machine hasn’t been built to shave the last few tenths of a second from a lap time. Consequently once behind the removable racing steering wheel drivers finds themselves surrounded by a beguiling mix of the sporting and the sensible.

Admittedly this isn’t as luxurious an environment as the standard machine but it has been built primarily for speed rather than comfort. And it is a very purposeful place to be. Seated low down in the Alcantara racing seats, the driver is faced with a simple suede rimmed Sabelt racing wheel. Behind that the normal Micra instrument binnacle houses a MoTeC digital data screen. This allows the driver to scroll through a variety of menus, not only accessing information like speed and rpm but also oil and water temperatures and pressures.

It’s an attractive place to be too. To give it the sporting feel of one of its racing cars, RML has employed a technique called flocking to all plastic surfaces. These are covered with glue that is given a negative charge. Tiny fibres are positively charged and stick to it. They are then literally shaved to give the surface a velvety feel. The dashboard, door panels and even centre console are covered in this material.

It is in stark contrast yet complementary to the aluminium sheeting on the floor which lends the Micra R a utilitarian sporting feel. There are drilled racing style pedals, a carbon fibre cover to the cockpit-mounted battery and the MoTeC M4 Electronic Control Unit in an attractive bronze finish sits between the seats.

It looks stripped out but it isn’t. Beneath the floor covering, sound proofing remains, as it does throughout the cabin to deaden road and engine noise and make the environment an even more pleasant place to be.

Sadly because of the need to keep the weight down, the one piece of equipment Christopher Reitz wanted in the car hasn’t made it. “I would love to have installed a camera in the fascia to photograph people’s faces when they push the accelerator. The excitement people feel when they drive the Micra R will say much more about the car than words ever will.”

To save weight the air-conditioning has been removed – a basic heater remains – the rain sensors for the windscreen wipers have been taken away from the front screen, and the sound system has gone too. However the functionality of the cockpit remains along with the usability that has been designed into the standard car

As an example of this, the electric door mirrors have been retained, as have the generously proportioned glovebox and three cupholders – one more than there will be occupants of the car! The spare wheel has been replaced with a pressurised mousse puncture repair kit to get drivers home in the event of a flat tyre.

The Micra R retains the innovative Intelligent Key.
Providing the key is within 80cm of the lock in a pocket or handbag, you can get into the car by doing nothing more than pushing a button on the door. The key isn’t needed for starting the car either. The Micra R features a prominent dashboard mounted stop/start button that is automatically enabled as long as the key is somewhere in the car.


No of cylinders/configuration 4/inline
Engine capacity (cubic capacity) 1,999
Valves per cylinder Four
Bore x stroke (mm) 86×86
Max engine power (bhp) 265
Max torque (Nm/rpm) 250/6,000
Fuel type Super unleaded

Transmission – Six-speed sequential shift
Driven wheels – Rear

Suspension (front) Independent MacPherson strut, coil springs over dampers
Suspension (rear) Independent MacPherson strut, coil springs over dampers
Steering Hydraulic power assisted rack and pinion

Braking system Ventilated discs front and rear
Wheel size 18inch alloy
Tyre size 215/35 front, 245/35 rear
Kerb weight (kg) 1,000 (approx)
Overall length (mm) 3,715
Overall width (mm) 1,760
Overall height (mm) 1,490
Wheelbase (mm) 2,430
Fuel tank capacity 45 litres more…

Fuel consumption (combined) l/100km (mpg) 11.29 (25)
Max speed km/h (mph) 240 (150mph)
Acceleration 0-100Km/h (0-62mph) (seconds) Under five

The Micra R wouldn’t have been possible without the input of some of motorsport’s biggest names; the engineering of Ray Mallock Limited and component companies like Hewland, MoTeC, Brembo and Goodridge with decades of experience in helping further the boundaries of performance cars all had a hand in its development.

Ray Mallock Limited started in 1984 working as a consultant for Aston Martin’s endurance racing programme. When this programme wound up in 1990, RML was enrolled to run Nissan’s Le Mans project with the R90C. The car qualified on pole position and led five hours of the 1990 event setting the race’s fastest lap on the way.

In 1992, RML began a super successful period in the British Touring Car Championship. It started preparing Vauxhall Cavaliers for the private Ecurie Ecosse outfit and was quickly enrolled to run the company’s works effort leading to the 1995 drivers’ and teams’ title. When Nissan elected to return to the BTCC with its Primera in 1997, it chose RML to run its factory team and its faith was rewarded with two championship titles in 1998 and the 1999 drivers’, teams’ and manufacturers’ crowns.

Along with its successful racing efforts (it finished first and second in last year’s ASCAR oval series) it also undertakes engineering projects for road car companies and has designed, manufactured and successfully raced the US manufacturer Saleen’s S7 and S7R supercars for road and race track. This is on top of rallying success with Vauxhall and Opel.

MoTeC is an Australian company that specialises in the design and development of world class engine management systems. Since 1987, it has continually refined its products to the point where they now offer world class standards of quality, flexibility, functionality and power.

Its continual improvement has been helped by working closely with major race and rally teams as well as competition engine companies and automobile manufacturers. The company, which supplied the ECU and dash display to the Micra R, also supplies the Porsche Carrera Cup, Germany’s V8 Star touring car series and the Lister FIA GT championship team with engine management systems.

There are few companies as famous in the world of motorsport as Hewland Engineering Limited. Founded by Mike Hewland in 1957 it is the company that invented the bespoke racing car gearbox and it has supplied the world’s racing car constructors ever since.

In 1964 the company scored its first Formula One success in the French Grand Prix and for the following two decades provided world championship winning teams like Tyrrell, Lotus, Williams and McLaren with gearboxes.

Today Hewland’s clients include Lola in the CART ChampCar series, Ferrari in the American Le Mans Series, Mercedes in the DTM German touring car championship, Alfa Romeo in the European Touring Car Championship and let’s not forget Nissan in the Japanese GT championship.

Toyo is one of the world’s leading tyre suppliers, investing around £57 million a year in research and development. It has even developed its own computer software so that it can develop tyres in virtual reality to speed up the development process and keep product costs down.

The company also uses results gleaned from two comprehensively equipped proving grounds in Japan as well as one in the US and another in Germany. The result is that its products are becoming increasingly popular in the UK with 400 approved dealers throughout the country. A consequence is that the Proxes T1-S as fitted to the Micra R is becoming one of the most popular tyres in the after market for drivers changing to a high performance yet affordable alternative.

Image Wheels International made the 18-inch rims that the Micra R sits on especially for the project. It has been manufacturing high quality three-piece wheels since 1987. All its wheels are custom made from prime aluminium that either spun or milled. It also makes wheels that combine cast centres with spun aluminium rims.

The width of the wheels it makes range from three inches to 20 inches and diameters are from 10 inches to 20 inches. It supplies the burgeoning British aftermarket business extensively and also provides prototype wheels to Bentley, Jaguar and Rover.

Premier Fuel Systems is the world’s leading manufacturer of safety fuel cells for the motorsport, military, aerospace and the marine industries. For cars, Premier manufactures to both FIA and EEC specification and supplies companies including Mercedes, Rolls-Royce, McLaren and Jaguar.

The company was chosen by Nissan for the Micra R project because it specialises in low quantity product lines to be manufactured to the specification needed for competition cars and fulfilled to customers’ own designs. It currently supplies fuel cells to the US CART series, the British Touring Car Championship, entrants to the Le Mans 24 Hours and the World Rally Championship.

Brembo was founded by its current managing director’s father in 1961 and three years later became the first Italian company to manufacture brake discs. By the early Seventies its products were a feature of the burgeoning Italian motorbike industry and a couple of years later it received the ultimate accolade when Enzo Ferrari asked it to make the braking system for his Formula One cars.

Throughout its history, Brembo has anticipated the future of brake system performance through technology, innovation and design and still continues to push the envelope when it comes to bringing cars to a halt. It was natural that Nissan should choose the company to supply brakes to its Micra R as the company has also built bespoke systems for the Skyline GT-R and the latest 350Z.

Goodridge was established in 1969 initially importing aircraft steel braided hose for the UK motorsport market. Its initial success along with the rapid expansion of UK motorsport allowed it to develop its own manufacturing base and it has never looked back.

The company now has global subsidiaries in France, Japan, Benelux, Spain, Germany and three locations in the USA. It has also diversified away from supplying solely companies in the motorsport sector and provides plumbing solutions throughout the car industry. With a client base that includes Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar and Ferrari, it’s no surprise that it was asked to supply all fluid plumbing systems for the Micra R.

Sabelt has been supplying motor racing’s hall of fame with safety equipment for the past 30 years. As well as in-car products like the seats, steering wheel and harness that it has supplied to the Micra-R project it also makes fireproof race suits, underwear and helmets and has supplied Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell and Eddie Irvine. It currently makes race suits for Ferrari Formula One stars Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello and supplies the Ford, Hyundai and Subaru World Rally Championship teams with equipment.

The company is constantly expanding its line-up of safety items and this year has added a new range of seats and an innovative line of racing shoes to its collection.

Proflex started making dampers for the motocross business 30 years ago before moving into four-wheeled vehicles a decade later. Although hugely successful the Dutch company remains a family-run concern and still employs only 18 people. But this is no barometer for success. The company provides shock absorbers for the Hyundai, Skoda and Mitsubishi World Rally Championship teams.

It has also expanded into the road car industry and supplies aftermarket kits for Subaru, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen and SEAT products.