by Nathan Aljoe on September 26th, 2012
“Does anyone have a setup I can use?” As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, participating in iRacing’s fixed setup series has its benefits. If I’m honest, I always find myself returning to fixed setup series such as the iRacing.com Nvidia Cup when I just fancy a blast on track without worrying about the setup I’m using. However, there comes a point in everyone’s iRacing career when you’ve gotta branch out and deal with setting up your car.
“Does anyone have a setup I can use…..??” If you look around and talk to people in the forums or on track you’ll be forgiven for thinking that there seem to be two types of people in the world when it comes to sim-racing; those who can set-up a car and those who can’t. I beg to differ. I think there are people who have bothered learn how to set-up a car and those who haven’t (I’m willing to accept that many people try to learn). Let’s face it; it’s not easy when you’re starting out, and when you’re faced with a tonne of settings that you have no clue about, the task of learning may seem too daunting.
Despite this, I’m guessing quite a few racers are like me. In fact, I’m willing to bet that most of us are a little like Cole Trickle (if you haven’t seen Day of Thunder watch it for the love of man!). Personally, I’ve tried to read tonnes of books, articles, guides, etcetera to try and learn how to set up a car. Unfortunately, I don’t have the concentration to read and digest information this way and the grey squishy stuff between my ears just can’t turn the words into something I can apply on the track. At this point, most people give up, go on the forum and download a setup . . . or join a practice session and utter the magic words.
“Does anyone have a setup I can use…..!?!?!?” What’s the problem with using a setup from a forum or getting one in a live session? Well nothing I guess. However, I see a lot of people who are off the pace in practice sessions, who are given a setup only to remain off the pace! Worse yet, I’ve been in race sessions where someone has uttered the aforementioned phrase to receive a setup, only to crash out shortly after! So what does this mean? Could it be that there is a correlation between racers who can’t be bothered to practice and racers who can’t set up their cars? Bold claims and very generalistic I know; however there may be a little truth in there.
So where do we start learning the dark arts of setting-up a car? Well, I’d recommend iRacing’s inRacingNews Challenge mixed class series – and what a fun little series it is too! “Does anyone have a setup I can use…..!?!?!?” C’mon guys! Anyone asking this question in this series should be ashamed. The Mazda Roaster in this series, for example, has 14 adjustable settings…10 of those are duplicated (one each side of the car)…AND changing one of these settings correctly will arguably give you a competitive car straight off the bat (no I won’t tell which setting I’m referring to). It just doesn’t get easier than this guys! So without further ado, it’s time for some guided discovery.
Go spin some laps, get used to the track/car combination and gauge you’re progress/performance against a competitive time (take your time and work up to it). Only when you can consistently drive the car at a reasonable pace should you be thinking about making some changes to the setup. When you get to this point make sure to only make one change at a time — BUT, for the sake of this exercise, make them extreme changes. For example, put the brake balance as far back as possible, go out and spin some laps <snigger>. What happened? Spinning under braking you say? OK, back into the pits and push the brake balance as far forward as possible. Do a few more laps. Notice a difference? Congratulations! You’ve just learned how brake balance affects the car; pat yourself on the back.
I’ll give you one more example. Reset the car’s settings. Once you’ve done that, increase both rear tire pressures to maximum and reduce the front pressures to minimum. Spin a few laps and see what happens <te he he>.
Hopefully you’re getting the idea now. Do the same with the other settings, experiment with them one by one – no reading required. Before long you’ll figure out what settings do what. Shortly after you’ll be able to make multiple changes to optimise the car’s braking, turn-in, mid-corner and exit behaviours. If you keep practicing you’ll get really good and will be on the path to becoming a complete racer! What I think is really important, in my humble opinion, is getting your car to feel/behave how you like it and not get fixated on what the text books/articles/setup guides say (I’m not saying they are useless be the way).
“Does… anyone… have… a setup I can use!!!!!!?” With a little patience and practice you’ll be making your own, tailor-made setups! The laps needed to make them will give you ample practise time, delivering confidence and performance plus setups that rock! Soon you’ll wonder what you were so scared of in the first place and will be sharing your awesome setups with the iRacing community. “YES!! I have a setup you can use… just stop asking that question for the love of man!!!”