Yamaha Performance Damper

/// Background

Mr. Seiji Sawai

Approximately 30 years ago a young engineer, Seiji Sawai, was employed by Yamaha and working in the field of motorcycle design. Mr. Sawai, like many Yamaha employees, had pursued an occupation closely linked to his personal passion for motorsports. On weekends and during his spare time, Sawai would participate in the sport of automobile 'gymkhana' or autocross, where drivers navigate an obstacle course at maximum speeds, competing against the clock. His efforts did not go un-rewarded as he achieved a national 3rd place ranking, racing against some of Japans finest drivers. This passion and experience provided the foundation for Sawai's career when he moved over to Yamaha automobile engineering, where he focused on advanced suspension and chassis components designed to improve vehicle stability, handling and comfort.


X-REAS

It was in the mid 90's when his work on the Yamaha 'REAS' (Relative Absorber System) introduced Sawai to a well-known European test driver. Their joint development work led to deep conversations regarding handling dynamics and the many factors at play in the vehicles chassis, inspiring a completely new idea.


Performance Damper - Increase body performance by viscous body

The X-REAS (first debuted on the Audi RS6), went main stream on the Toyota 4-Runner. It was quite successful at controlling the pitch and roll of the chassis through the shock absorbers which were linked hydraulically in a cross pattern using controlled damping to compensate for unwanted movement. This worked very well, especially when used on a rigid chassis but Sawai was not satisfied. There were still elements at play beyond the ability of the suspension or chassis rigidity to handle. - There was still room for improvement. - What would be the impact of controlling the energy transmitted into the chassis from paths other than shock absorbers, such as suspension control arms and other components? Could these forces when left unchecked, be effecting the vehicles performance more than engineers realized? Instead of trying to eliminate these unwanted elements entirely - which was proving impossible - was there not a different way to manage the energy?


These questions challenged Sawai and ultimately led to the development of a new device to work actively in dissipating dynamic distortion in the chassis through damping. It is widely known in the automobile industry as the 'Yamaha Performance Damper'.