The first week of the inaugural sim racing season for the Dallara DW12 IndyCar is upon us. The much-anticipated, long-awaited car is now an iRacing favorite. Though the first official DW12 races are a week in the past, there is still oh so much to look forward to. On the old IndyCar, Michigan was one of my favorite tracks to visit; in the open series there was a lot of strategy that came into play. With the new car, however, it is less about strategy, less about setup and nearly 100% about the driver’s ability. With so much aero- push, having a car that can drive in the pack will be crucial; drivers who stay with the main group, nail their pit stops and trim-out after pits are the ones who will have a shot at the victory. Most passes will be done on the straight away given how the strength of the sling shot.
THE DRIVING LINE
The not-so-traditional line that we run around Michigan still stands as the fastest way around the track, and will probably be where most cars will run. Staying in the second line in Turns One and Two will be the quickest way around while in Turns Three and Four, depending on the weather and their aero settings, you may see drivers stay in the second groove and chop down on the exit, or possibly run right down to the white line. For many drivers, the second groove driving may come as a relief, as they can duck down to the first lane and find clean air to keep their cars turning. I have noticed, however that this can make your very loose without much warning. Fortunately, with the new car there have been a myriad of setup entrepreneurs, even some on the oval side. First, let us see the racing line for Michigan in a more illustrative way.
Heading into Turn One drivers will shoot from either the white line or the apron into the third groove — or even higher if they need to– before shooting down to the line separating the first two grooves.
Heading into Turn Three the track breaks left a bit, but drivers will stay up against the wall and subtly fade down a lane or so in a very gradual turn-in. Depending on how much grip a setup has, two or three lines can be taken. One relies on weather, so I only show two here. The more standard line will be the red line, where drivers fade up on exit to the straight away and run an early apex as they push wide in the draft. The lead car or a defending car will probably run the blue line, holding the second groove and then holding a low exit, or even running a late apex if they are on low enough fuel to hold it right against the white line. Half a tenth can be lost if you apex too early while running by yourself.
The DW12 Oval Setup Shop in the iRacing Forum has a pretty solid base setup posted by Ted Severns, though it is immensely different from what I started with for many reasons. Upon looking at Ted’s setup there are a few things I picked-up that I would definitely change; things that I immediately put into my own set-up. Everyone has something different in their setups right now, because no one has really figured out what exactly works the best. One important thing I noticed was Ted had 2/3 radiator inlets on his race set-up. This is something that the sim will not allow us to do for the race. Immediately change that to 1/3 if you are practicing race runs. Another thing I didn’t like was that the suspension was so stiff. I softened it quite a bit to give more mechanical grip for the draft. On the right side I was running between 1800-1900 lbs while on the left side my rear was closer to 1500 and the front closer to 1750. For ride heights, I find anywhere between .6 and .7 inches handles quite well, depending on your spring rate so that you clear the ground enough. On the right front I would aim to be .1 to .15 inches higher than the left side in ride height. In the rear I personally found between 1.2 and 1.3 inches to be the sweet spot for my setup, but many people are running as much as 1.5 inches with no problem. That being said, I do prefer a much different setup than many people.
You will notice Ted’s front toes point to the left, I personally prefer to run the “old” style toes and keep them pointing towards each other so I gain a bit of grip on the exit. By “old” style I am talking about how the IR-05 didn’t allow for separate front toe adjustments, even on an oval. If I point them both to the left, then I understeer. That being said I do point both of my rear toes towards the wall: this helps the car turn the center. I prefer more of this than less, as I really prefer to focus on mechanical grip rather than rely on aerodynamic grip. This liking for mechanical grip has led me to experiment on the wheel base. I found because we are so tight in the draft that 118’ is the best option for me; this makes the car a bit more responsive and I couple this with a very soft front anti-roll bar (but not none, as that makes the car wash around a bit in the front). For the rear anti-roll bar settings I set them as high as they can go, as stiff as they can go, to help the car turn. This is because of the understeer in the draft, but also because if I get too loose I can always take the weight jacker down at the end of the run which will balance-out the car regardless.
Well, this is the Kitchen Sink that ran through my head, the philosophy behind my setup. It is completely different from Ted’s, but it may give you something to play with. So far I have managed some mid 31.4s by myself at the end of a race stint. Though this article was much less formative than previous ones in this series, it does much more resemble some of the quick guides I did on the old car that could help sim racers prepare themselves for the different weather or what not that changes from season to season. I hope this will also inspire a few newer drivers to the series to go into the garage and change things, find out what they do and see if they work. Remember, this car is much more logical than the old one. If you have any questions feel free to PM me on the iRacing forum (name: Ray Kingsbury).