Brands Hatch Testing
We’ve been running our test cars pretty hard for over a year now doing a lot of work on test tracks, wind tunnels and on road to refine and fine tune pretty much every part of the Rp1.
Proper race track testing has been something that we wanted to do for a while but a lot of other things had to come first to ensure that we would be able to use the track time productively.
However, a combination of three things; a decision to change the rear on the car to a wider and larger tyre/wheel combination to slightly improve traction, balance and grip; a chance of working with our friends at Michelin on some brand new Pilot Sport 3 tyres; and an available testing day at Brands Hatch meant that a full scale testing day could be carried out.
A slightly grey early Friday morning in November found the Elemental team in a pit garage at Brands Hatch preparing the car for its first outing. The day was a series of combined open testing sessions where we would have four 45 minute sessions on track. Elemental test driver, David Pittard was on driving duties for the day, and ace photographer Tim Brown from MotionCaptured Photography was also on hand to record the event from the pitlane and trackside.
First session was looking just at basic set-up with the new rear suspension settings and 18in rear wheels. David was sent out on an initial installation lap and came back reporting that whilst the track was a bit greasy, the car was behaving very well and the basic baseline car setup was performing well. A quick discussion followed and some minor changes made to the car and then David was back out on track.
The thing to remember is that whole idea of testing is that you don’t go for a full on heroic qualifying time. You make single or simple changes to the car setup, test that for several laps and then return to the pit to check and discuss. Everything needs to be carried out in a straight forwards, methodical way, recording everything as you go, otherwise you can start making major and possibly negative changes to the car that cannot be followed.
The majority of the day was to be concentrating on getting the car working well with the new wheels and tyres but, as the first session wore on, the skies started to become darker and it became obvious that we would be struggling with the weather. The second session was going to be a proper wet test! This actually wasn’t the problem that it might have at first appeared. The majority of our work on the car has been done in the dry, we have done a fair amount of wet road driving (this is the UK after all!) but we haven’t done much full on wet track testing.
From our initial baseline, our Technical Director John and Production Manager Ian, after discussing with the representative from Michelin and David, started to work on revising the car’s setup to give more grip. Softer spring and anti-roll bar settings were made and the David was back out on track for a long run.Throughout the car remained planted and looked fast and composed, in-spite of the now somewhat wet and windy conditions.
More feedback, more discussions and then a test to see how our old setup with the smaller 17in wheels on the rear of the car compared to our work in the morning using 18’s (one of the joys of the Rp1 is that it’s actually very easy to make these kind of major changes).
On return David was adamant that the 18in wheels made a big positive difference so, decision made, the new setup was put back on the car and then David was sent out for the final session to get some more miles on the car and do some final minor work and information gathering.
So, the car now has 17in wheels and tyres on the front and a slightly wider 18in setup on the back giving better grip, acceleration and stability.
The 18in wheels and tyres also make the car look better too. Result! 🙂
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