It’s been a while…

Ahh, life. Sometimes it just plain gets in the way when trying to get stuff sorted…. at least that’s my excuse for not having written an update post since August! Maybe I should put in a New Years resolution to try and write a post once a month, hmmm…

So whats been happening? Quite a lot in reality, but not all of it positive either.. still I’ll jump back to September, which is roughly where I left off!

Queensland State Titles 2014

So end of September was the big one for EP on-road in Queensland, and that was the ORRCA Queensland State titles. For the first time, these were going to be held up at the Fraser Coast track. The track itself is based in a car park of a sports club, and is relatively low grip, but with a smooth surface, and a great layout. And with the event being organised by the always entertaining Fraser Coast boys, it was bound to be a good event, and they didn’t dissapoint. Even managed to organise decent weather for the weekend (with the sunday morning excepted!).

Now, me being me, I had spent a good few weekends prior to the titles driving the 5hours up to the Coast, just to try as many things as possible, and get as much practise in as I could. Tyres was one of the big things, as the states were a control tyre only, so inserts and rims were open. I really wanted to get a good grasp on some different combo’s, not wanting to feel I had left anything on the table. I also made sure to pester my go-too reference people (thanks Chris and Matt!), before finally settling on the Sorex 36-SR combination, which conveniently also came as a prebuild. Testing had shown minimal drop off over a number of runs, and faster laps than the SY’s. With only three sets allowed for the finals, having tyres that could potentially last all six rounds of qual (so saving two new sets for the finals) was key.

During testing, I pretty much ended up on my base Logan setup, as the general characters of both tracks were quite similar. The main change was switching to the Ride Blue springs, as these seemed better suited to the lower grip surface, with the normal Schumacher Greens feeling a bit too reactive.

Onto the event itself, and practise went well, pace being good and consistent. Qualifying started out well, and made some small changes to the setup to compensate for older tyres, which were progressively giving more and more understeer. 500wt oils in the rear shocks only (up from 450), putting the Mid-rear wishbone strap on, and going to a 0.5mm front hub shim all helped. I also moved back to Schumacher springs, going with the blues to help improve corner speed. These worked so well that in the last two qualifiers on the saturday I was running right up the sharp end of the grid, and was sitting 4th overall into the overnight break.

Sunday, and rain overnight left the track damp in the morning. A couple of controlled practise rounds before the last round of qualifying helped to bring the track back up to speed. By this stage I had already guaranteed an A-final spot, but sitting in fourth overnight, I didn’t want to loose any spots. Thankfully, even though a couple of guys did bolt on new tyres for do-or-die runs, little changed to results and I was fourth. The damp morning had taken some grip away, and into retrospect, I didn’t react quickly enough to this for the finals….

So for A1, I made one of the biggest setup errors I’ve made in a while, and basically put myself on the back foot. Having known that on brand new boots going back to the Green springs worked well, I started to make the switch from the Blues… and then got distracted! On inspection after pulling out after 6laps of A1 with a car nigh on undrivable, I had only changed the rear springs… oops! Still, there were two more finals to go, and I still had one brand new, and one 6lap old sets of tyres..

A2. Decided to go back to Schu Blue springs, keeping the car pretty much as the final qualifier (and this is a key point I’ll come back to). Certainly better than A1, but now lacked corner speed, and still a little taily. Dropped a few spots, think I came in 7th for the leg.

A3. Green springs, and took the Mid-rear wishbone strap off, aiming to give it more grip. I should have given it more rear, by basically going back to where I started the weekend. I ended up 7th overall, which whilst an improvement on previous years (at this rate I’ll win it in 2020 :p) was a bit disappointing given how good the car had been on the Saturday. But c’est la vie, it’s racing, and shit happens as they say. The biggest thing I could take away from the event though was the need to stay on top of the settings from old to new boots. Part of that problem was that I wasn’t able to test a setup from super old boots on new tyres in practise, as there was an issue with one set… but I should have made the changes and given myself a safe, raceable car. Live and learn… and I promise thats the end of my cliche quota for this post!

EC – FraserCoast – QLD14

However, on a more positive note… I did TQ and win the F1 class.. by one and a half laps in 20mins! It’s quite strange, as the only change I made to that car over the whole weekend was softer side-springs, and slightly harder roll damper. It was pretty mega all weekend, and at one point fastest lap was over half a second quicker than anyone else. Can’t complain too much really!

EC – SP-1 QLD Titles 2014

Interclub Round 3 repeat

Next on the agenda was the rescheduled third round of the interclub series at Bayside. Saturday I reserved solely for F1, and Sunday for mod. Not a bad meeting again, think I ended up 6th in TC, whilst managing to win F1 (despite missing the first round of qualifying having woken up late!). I’m not really going to comment on the setup, as personally, I didn’t think it was all that… which has been par for the course at Bayside!

And since then, testing, testing, testing..

Anyway, since then I’ve been testing a lot of things, which in all honesty isn’t unusual, but I really stepped it up a notch recently. And the reason for this, is that I felt I had lost pace compared to fellow competitors, certainly at the local tracks. And checking back over times from earlier in the year, that appeared to be the case. So it was on with testing a lot of of things, which by I mean (in no particular order);

Cut and uncut arms, wishbone straps on and off, thick and thin top decks, short and long rear links, low and high roll centres, narrow and wide track, roll bars, shock positions, camber link shims… and a multitude of combinations in between!

A lot of this came from comparing what other racers out here have been doing with their cars (and being comprehensively whooped in some cases!), as well as discussing setups with the UK team. The final piece of the puzzle has been looking closely at the geometry and setups in the RC Crew Chief (RC3) software (for more info take a look here), and comparing that with other known entities… ok, BD7’s 😉

[Just as an aside, I will add another post later with some RC3 details, as well as comparisons on setups, and key points to look at.]

Having been through this minor crisis of confidence, all the testing has given me a much through understanding of what makes the car tick… and it’s also taken me a different tack in setup of late, and it seems to be working well. The biggest change has been going to a lower rear roll centre setup, combined with a narrower rear track and shorter rear camber link.

The whole idea is to run lower rear roll-centre, with only 0.5mm shims under neath the arms. Additionally, narrowing the rear track helps to gain grip on entry and exit, whilst gaining rotation in the middle. Using the shortest possible rear links helps to reduce chassis roll, and improve the camber gain. On track, it’s quite a different car to drive… but going this route has helped to improve my speed at the Bayside bogey track.

The other thing that has been shown up in looking at RC3, was regarding the roll bars. Now I’ve always run the evo with a softer, 1.3mm front bar, with the kit 1.2mm. This was purely to get more steering, and something that had worked well on the old Mi5. Looking at the calculated stiffness in RC3, the relative shortness of the rear bars active bits (for want of a better word!) mean that the 1.2mm is stiffer than expected.. with a 1.1mm being closer to other cars 1.2’s. Again on track this had a good effect, with an improvement in rear stability, without appearing to loose too much in terms of cornerspeed.

EC – 02Jan15 – BaysidePractise

The one thing I should point out mind, is that with the narrow hexes on the rear of the car, Sorex rims hit the arms, due to their deeper webbing. Ride and MuchMore rims are fine, but for Sorexs, adding a 0.5mm shim should clear the arm. The other advantage of running the narrow hexes is that it’s then easier to adjust the rear width by using shims.

Anyway, that’s probably enough rambling for now… Happy New Year everyone, and hope you all have success in 2015 🙂