MiniTorque Sponsor Focus - Life In The Fast Lane

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6. 03. 2013   |  

You may have browsed their website for some new performance parts or even seen them at the track competing in Britcar or the MINI Challenge series.  If you’ve been to one of the recent Dyno Days organised by MT you may even of had the pleasure of visiting their impressive new state-of-the -art facility – but what you may not know about Lohen is what makes them tick, what drives them to succeed?   So, as part of MiniTorque’s sponsor focus series, we paid them a visit to find out first-hand what they’re all about.

Before we start throwing some hard hitting questions at the Lohen team, let’s give you a sneaky look through the keyhole at Lohen.

It may look fairly unassuming on the outside but behind that entrance there’s a lot going on.

Turn right as you walk through the entrance and you’re hit by a MINI owner’s wet dream - lots of shiny aftermarket parts to drool over.

No need to guess what the front end of your Gen 1 MINI looks like from underneath as the Lohen team have put together this great set-up so as to talk you through which parts make a particular difference to your handling.

And we thought antihero3000 was a wheel whore

One of the nicest customer lounges we’ve seen this side of a MINI showroom, you’ve got free Wifi, a big screen TV, Xbox, what looks like every back issue of Modern MINI and some seriously comfy sofas.

If you need parts, then they’ve got ‘em!  There isn’t much that Lohen don’t keep in stock, everything from OEM service parts to all kinds of everything for the aftermarket.

No matter which way you turn there seems to be a MINI race car being readied for a forthcoming battle - from a Gen 1 MINI Cooper to a couple of Gen 2 Cooper S competing in the UK MINI Challenge and Britcar.

MINI Racer David Ogden had his stunning track focussed Gen 1 GP in for a race clutch install whilst we were there, so we’ll be featuring this beast of a MINI in due course.

Some R53 owners claim the R56 Cooper S engine seems to be made of cheese which has really upset this particular R56 race engine…

… but having been built and blueprinted onsite at Lohen HQ it really needs to turn that frown upside down. There are plans for a dedicated and sealed engine build room in the future!

Once fitted, that engine spends some time in here to make sure it’s making the numbers on Lohen’s state-of-the-art Rotronics 4WD rolling road with a specially built viewing booth on the side so that you can see your car being put through its paces in safety.

Spotted in the corner of the garage was one of Lohen’s very first road & track builds - built to trial new parts on the track back in the day.  It’s now been put back into service testing Lohen’s new R53 remapping software and was fresh from high-speed testing where it spent many laps at top speed whilst they logged and tweaked their maps.

Everything from servicing to tyre changing through to full race car builds up to MSA spec, Lohen have got it covered.

And if you feel like a full racing season piloting one of their MINIs in the MINI Challenge Series or Britcar, you can expect to be well looked after at the track thanks to their purpose built Race Truck which comes with everything you need to help put you on the top step of the podium.

But that’s enough from us, let’s hear directly from the team at Lohen.

Please give us a brief history of Lohen and tell us a bit about the current team set-up?

Lohen was founded in 2004 and has grown and evolved, both from the perspective of staff as well as premises.  Owned by Andrey Magiy, the company has already outgrown 3 previous homes and currently resides in an 11,000 square foot unit on Raleigh Hall Industrial Estate, sited in Eccleshall, Staffordshire.

The original aim was to cater for fast road and track enthusiasts, but we’re also seeing growth in general maintenance on the cars as they age, alongside the call for race car builds and higher-end conversions.

Including Andrey, the team now comprises of eight staff;  three guys in the workshop, one ECU/Electronics Engineer, two on the sales team and one in marketing and sales.

We have immaculate on-site facilities including:

·         2 fitting amps

·         3 Race car bays

·         4WD 500kW rolling road

·         Tyre fitting & balancing machines

·         Engine building facilities

We house our 3 race cars and 2 demo cars here, as well as extensive stock for fitting and online shop orders. Our customers can enjoy a clean, warm, comfortable waiting area decked out with Xbox and DVDs, a large flat-screen TV as well as many back-issues of Modern MINI Magazine to keep you entertained whilst here for fitting work.

We have a strong online shop, have products immediately available and juggle our workshop fitting time with MINI Challenge and Britcar race car prep and dyno customers.  As you can appreciate, the company has moved on since its humble beginnings from a home-based situation.

In 3 words, what does Lohen stand for?

Quality – we only stock top-quality products so you can rest assured you are buying a fantastic part for your MINI first time (and every time).  Additionally we offer a top-quality service: whether you’re dealing with the retail or workshop team, you can expect high standards at every stage.

Experience – the company is nearly nine years old and has vast experience in all types of diagnosis, fast road and track use, alongside several seasons racing at the highest level.  You can be sure we’ve seen a wide range of scenarios and can assist you and your MINI no matter what you want to change or improve.

Honesty – which is at the heart of everything we do.  If your product hasn’t arrived, we are proactive and let you know.  If there is a problem with your car, we present the options to allow you to make an informed decision.  Our aim is to build a long-term relationship with our customers (we have a very high percentage of customer return rate) and this is built on honesty at every stage.

In your experience, what is the most important thing to do first when modifying a MINI?

A well-maintained MINI is the key starting point. If you look after the car with regular servicing and maintenance, it will look after you when you come to add extra horsepower or ask your MINI to do ‘more’.  In terms of performance, we strongly suggest chassis upgrades – power without handling is nothing!  Our Britcar MINI is the perfect example of a car that is fast – not necessarily because it has tons of horsepower but because it has a strong chassis and is very well setup.

What is your greatest MINI related achievement to date?

In a retail sense:

Gen1 – continued development of our Gen1 tuning packages. We’ve integrated many driving features to make these MINIs superb cars.  We’re particularly proud of the Traction Control, which is now a driver aid as opposed to a hindrance!  We’re continually developing this.

Gen2 – mapping the standard engine on our Gen2 Cooper S Race Car to over 292bhp.

In a racing sense:

Andrey Magiy lapping Brands Hatch in a standard-engine Lohen MINI faster than a 350bhp Time Attack Astra.  Additionally, Ant Whorton-Eales claiming 3 podiums and a P1 in last year’s MINI Challenge at Snetterton.  Particularly satisfying as this was a car we built from scratch.

If you could perform just one modification to a MINI, what would it be?

We’d put KW Automotive Coilovers onto the MINI. They make a huge impact/improvement to the overall feel of the car, allowing you to optimise the driving experience of a relatively standard MINI. In April, our Team is heading to the KW factory in Germany for product training. This will enable Lohen to understand your needs, sell you the correct product and offer expert fitting even better.

Which is your favourite MINI model and why?

It is still the Gen1 Cooper S – it’s a great platform to start MINI Modification, still very raw and a real driver’s car. They’re great value for money and easily modified on a sensible budget. You just can’t beat that supercharger whine!

What products are you currently developing and why?

We’re currently working on our Gen1 Tuning packages following a very successful initial launch.  We are now able to map cars with 15% or 17% pulleys, manifolds and intercoolers and will be working on the next stages soon.  We’re very proud of many elements in our tuning and are confident it’s an overall package to benefit the driver.

With Gen2 cars we’re also working on ECU tuning, alongside Oil Coolers and Oil Catch Cans.

Should you have any queries about modding your Mini, to order parts or get some advice, feel free to contact Lohen:

 

Lohen
Unit 11 Raleigh Hall
Eccleshall
Staffordshire
ST21 6JL
United Kingdom
t: +44 (0) 1785 859999
f: +44 (0) 1785 859952
e: sales @ lohen.co.uk

 

Open Mon - Fri: 9am - 5.30pm

 

 

 

Read 2769 times Last modified on Monday, 03 June 2013 15:08
Published in MiniTorque Sponsors
More in this category: « New sponsors at MT HQ