- Serpent S411 2.0 - Ed Clark - Asian Onroad Championships - Melbourne - 05-07.07.2013 -
This was the first carpet race I've been too in two years, and the first on Ride 32's.
Practise kicked off on Thursday afternoon, and I started out with the car on the Fischer ETS setup. To be honest, the first few runs I just took it easy, as trying to figure out the track, and how the felt on carpet being quite alien.
Made a few small changes as the car went on, mainly moving the front shocks up to hole 3, and trying the centre post motor mount vs the rear screw mount.
The car felt ok, but with lacking a reference point it was hard to tell if it was fast or not. Overall thought the day progressed pretty well, and felt I'd started to get a handle on the settings, the track, and the tyre prep, ready for the controlled practise on the Friday.
I left the car as it had ended up on Thrusday for the first controlled practise run, but it was obvious that the track was in no way near as good condition, after a cold night, and grip was a lot lower. For the second run, left the car alone again, except changing to 2.0/2.0 front blocks, and back to the 2screw motor mount, to try and take away some of the steering. This did help in the middle, but the car was still a bit too keen to bring the rear round on exit, and not straighten up quick enough out of the turn. For the third run, switching to 3K rear diff oil which helped to smooth the car out on throttle, but didn't solve the snap or straightening up issue I had. Fourth round, in an attempt to lock the back of the car down, dropped the rear oil to 450 wt, and switched out the shock tops from sealed to vented. This kind of worked, but didn't really like the feel of the car, was really numb, and hard to drive consistent. Bit of a frustrating end to the day, as I felt there was a good setup just out of reach... General pace was ok, ending up around the 25th mark.
Qualifying on the saturday, and having had a think over night, went back to the 500wt rear oil, and sealed tops, and took all the rebound out. At this point I also discovered that the bladders had swelled a lot as well, so switched them out for new ones, and I could now get low rebound with sealed tops
First qualifier was pretty much the same as Friday night... ok, but not great. Tough to drive, and felt on edge. Second qualifier, tweaked the droop a little, giving it 0.5mm all round, and an extra 0.5° of rear camber. This helped to take the edge off, but the still didn't loose the sliding rear end.
For the Third qualifier, decided to make a big change. Given it was FTD format, figured that I could sacrifice the third run to try a very different setup, and if it didn't work, switch back for the fourth round. Having been walking around the bits, and looking at other cars that were working well (specifically the Yokomo's), decided to make a large number of changes.
Changed the rear blocks to 0.0/3.0, narrowing the back of the car to help generate more grip. Shocks positions to 4/4 F/R from 3/5 (more equal, and upright, trying to generate side bite). Front blocks back to 2.0/1.5 (smoother through the turn, on the advice of Ronald Volker). Back to the centre post motor mount, and throwing my braced front top deck on the car. All of that together was to generate more rear traction, but also then give it more steering to pull the car round... basically attempting to make the car grip more all round!
And well... it worked. Jumped form 25th to 14th overall, and post my first 12.2 laps of the weekend (fast guys up to that point had been doing 11.9s, bar Ronald on an 11.7), so I was mega happy. Car was gripped up, and better balanced than it had been all weekend, smooth, and steery all at the same time. Sufice to say for the fourth run, I kept it the same, and was onto improve until I clipped a dot, and lost a couple of second on a pipe. However, very satisfied, and thankfully had done enough to make the B final, as only 5 drivers improved in the last round.
For the finals on sunday, with the target for the weekend achieved, I wanted to try out a few more things. In the morning practise, I went to the grub screw under the front post of the motor mount, and this felt mega on track, so ran with it in the first final. Wasn't a good choice, as by then the grip had come up more, and I had made it a push monkey... still took 9th, but was 2/10ths off my fastest lap. Leg 2, I was under the pump racing F1 and Mod back to back, and cocked up the additive routine for the tourer, leaving it skating across the surface for the first laps, and dropping a heap of time. Came back towards the end of the run, but still a 10th off my best lap, although the run ended early after a glancing blow on a barrier stripped a servo gear. Last final, given I couldn't really improve my position overall, wanted to try something out in the interests of learning, so threw a gear diff in the front with putty. Not a wise move, gave the car too much middle steering, and would whip the rear of the car round. Driven smooth and wide (like a one-way!) it was quick-ish, but very hard to race with, which I was quite suprised with.
Still, mega weekend, and the car was really good in the end, after moving away from the ETS setting. The track (as Ben mentions) itself wasn't that gripped up, so traction roll was never an issue. Certainly learnt a lot in time for next year