Drift Car Suspension Setup 101 | Aaron Parker [TECH TALK]

Drift Car Suspension Setup 101 | Aaron Parker [TECH TALK]


– The suspension setup on any racecar
is critical to getting optimal performance out of it and nowhere is this more true than
in the sport of drifting. And we’re here with Aaron Parker who’s
relatively famous for debuting on the Hyperdrive Netflix show in the pink FD RX7
that’s behind us, however he’s also a Pro 1 Formula D mechanic so he knows his
way around drift cars and in particular suspension setups. We’re here to find out a little bit more about
what goes into a competitive drift suspension setup. So for a start I mean looking at your car here
Aaron, it’s pretty clear that you’ve got a fairly wide track compared to stock and
there’s a lot that goes into getting that wide track and something that’s going to
work as opposed to just a stanced out look. So can you talk to us about the suspension
setup you’ve got front and rear in the car? – Yeah so everything we did here was
trying to find a company that could develop something that would actually work
rather than just look good. So I had to find someone that was local
and someone who was willing to put the R&D behind something that was actually going
to work instead of just be there. I found a company called Part Shop MAX and
luckily they were looking to move forward with the chassis, develop something that
was available to the public, so we went through the process of many many different
setups, finally came into this one. It’s I guess custom, all the way from the
lower control arm to the upper control arm, to the actual knuckle itself, we had to make
something that was drift specific that didn’t bind up and really just made putting an
angle kit on the FD RX7 very simple.. – Alright so when it comes to your requirements
as a driver, when you’re developing a stock FD chassis, and you want something that’s going
to be competitive in drifts, can you talk to us about the requirements from that suspension
system and their priorities perhaps. – Yeah I guess I could go into this chassis,
chassis specifics. So a lot of people think that the chassis
is very twitchy which makes it not so easy to drive so everything with developing this kit
was to try to take that out of it to make it much more drivable. ‘Cause it doesn’t matter how fast the car is
if you’re not comfortable behind the wheel. So very smooth, very easy and yeah I guess
that’s like the overall feel of that. – So the first thing I mentioned was the fact
you’ve got that wider track but I mean this comes into again, your custom Parts Shop MAX
components there and the suspension. Now this is more than just bolting on a
wide wheel with a massive offset, ’cause that affects your scrub radius as
well which can be negative. So can you talk to us about that because
I think there’s a lot of misconception there about why we can’t just bolt on a wide wheel
with a massive offset and what’s that going to do to the way the car drives. – Yeah so I’m not going to get into Ackermann
too much because I think there is a lot of misconception or misunderstanding about it
but technically if you’re in drift this way, we’ve done everything to prevent the leading
wheel from doing this. Because it creates kind of like a floaty
sensation that the drivers don’t like, it’s very unpredictable. So we do scrub on the rear, the trailing wheel
and that actually helps stabilise the car to make it more easy to drive. – Now I’ll just dive into that in a bit of
detail. Ackermann’s one of those topics that is
incredibly difficult to explain without the help of some visual props but essentially the
Ackermann steering is designed in a road car generally around the fact that if we’re
turning a corner at low speed in a carpark, the two front wheel basically turn through
different radius’ and the idea with the Ackermann steering is that it equalises
those radius’ so the car tracks properly. That’s fine if you’re driving around a
supermarket carpark but when you’re at speed, the slip angle that the tyres tend
to work at, that’s not always going to work. I mean everyone has their preference,
again without trying to get too deep, Ackermann, particularly in a factory application
basically no adjustment in there. So how do you adjust it with the Parts Shop
MAX components? – So we made a series of adjustable washers. The washers themselves are fixed but they
have keyways on them that will move I guess the ball or pivot point to make it fixed for
that washer. So it’s upper and lower and depending on
which washer you have, you have more or less Ackermann. – So you’re talking there about where the tie
rod end bolts into the knuckle and those are essentially for all intents and purposes
an eccentric washer so you can move that pivot point and it’s the relationship
between the steering knuckle where the tie rod locates and the bottom ball joint,
the angle of that essentially is going to define the Ackermann? – Absolutely, absolutely, yeah. – Alright so in terms of the knuckles
themselves as well, again this is an area where drifting is quite unique,
you need a lot of steering lock which most production cars don’t get anywhere
close to. So how do you go about getting that
additional steering lock? – So with this knuckle obviously we went
through a lot of different renditions of prototypes, whatever, we ended with a
fully cast knuckle with built in trail that is a kind of Parts Shop, I guess what
we know The built in trail is all of our knuckles for
the most part had the same thing so it’s pretty universal for a Parts Shop car to
have the same type of trail built into each knuckle. – I guess I should probably also just clarify
that term. Depending where you are in the world,
it’s different terminology. The knuckle that we’re talking about also
referred to as the upright, essentially the hub where the wheel bearing bolts onto
correct? – Correct, correct yeah. – Alright so in terms of the other adjustments
in the suspension setup, again just focusing on the front for the moment, you’ve got
a adjustable camber system which is quite interesting. And camber’s one of those things that we’re
probably going to be adjusting from time to time trying to make that nice and easy to
do and quick to do. A lot of people use left and right handed
threaded rod ends. You’ve got a unique take on that with some
shims, tells us about those. – Yeah so we’re using shim stacks on the
upper control arms to adjust I guess camber overall. You can also do it on our caster arm
but with this car both things are kind of integrated. So one thing adjusts and then the next
kind of, or one thing affects the other. So we have two places you can do that with
the caster in the back shims or on the upper control arm with shims as well. And it just gives you a little bit finer
tunement if you have your caster where you want, one kind of affects a little bit
more and so you’ll attack that one less because you want to keep the caster closer
so it just gives you an easier way to dial in everything. – Now in terms of the caster that you’ve just
mentioned as well, this is a really key aspect to affect the self centring effect and
particularly with drift we know that after a lot of people, after they’ve
initiated the drift they’ll essentially let go of the steering wheel briefly and
allow the car to counter steer by itself and that’s really that caster effect in
action. Can you tell us how much caster you’re
running on the car? – So on this car I’m at 4.8 and that’s pretty
close to OEM but really you just want the self steer to make the car easier to drive
but you don’t want too much because then you’re making all these corrections which
could lead to understeer or in competitive drifting you get deducted from making those
steering corrections. So less caster, more caster, you want to
find the right balance so that the steering is slow enough to control it without making
those twitchy little mistakes. – Alright so that’s actually really important
to fine tune that caster and get it to a point where it’s suiting the driver and
the chassis? – Absolutely yeah. – Alright let’s talk about the rest of your
alignment settings there. So I mean in the early days of drifting,
it was all about breaking the tyres loose, now as we’ve seen drifting become more
competitive, teams are getting a little bit more dialled into what’s required and it’s
really come down to grip so that you can go faster and faster. So can you tell us what you’re doing with
your camber and how you’re adjusting that to a particular track, camber and toe I want
to talk about there. – In the rear? – In the rear and the front. – OK so in the front it’s pretty fixed, I’ve
played around with zero toe and I kind of liked that just as much as maybe a mil or
two of toe out. And really those two things I can feel a
very slight difference but it doesn’t affect anything so as long as it stays
within those, I’m OK. – In general the theory there is a touch of
toe out at the front’s going to promote better turn in? – Yeah yeah and then stabilisation at angle
while you’re in drift ’cause we very rarely drive straight. – OK so and then at the rear? – So the rear is almost a little more
important. You want me to talk about the full setup? – Yeah let’s talk about the full setup for
a start. – OK so I guess with the rear, what you don’t
want is for the rear to be unpredictable. So when I set this car up, pretty much I take
the coil over off, put the car up on jack stands and everything and I cycle the
suspension, the rear goes up and down and I have to make sure that the toe
doesn’t change throughout that entire range. – So you’re talking about the potential
there for bump steer built into the factory geometry? – Yes yes and I mean you’d be surprised
what you would find in some setups, especially OEM stuff, you’ll get toe out. People are like oh my toe is this or
whatever and I’m like yeah but it’s not moving and the car is always moving,
the suspension’s always moving so you really need to take the coil over off
and cycle the suspension up and down without it in, that way you can see what
it’s doing throughout the entire stroke. – OK so once you’ve eliminated or made
sure that you haven’t got any significant bump steer in that rear suspension,
what sort of typical toe settings are you actually running at the rear? – Depending on how fast the competitive
cars are, the other cars, you’d do anything from zero to, man, really about an inch or,
what was it, 25 or 30 mm. – That’s a huge amount of toe in, you’d never
run anything like that in a grip racing, circuit racing application. So how does that amount of toe in help
in a drift application? – So it gives you a whole lot more forward
drive and then a lot of people lose, in their transitions, they hold too much
angle for too long, the next car is holding shallower angle and they use it in a very
small window through the transition to drive the car forward. So the car will feel terrible in a straight
line but when you’re drifting it’ll give you that drive in and out so out of the
transition into the next one you’ll just get this slinky effect that the other guys
can’t catch up to. – So this is where you really need to
understand the application and apply wheel alignment settings that are going to
work for your particular application, again just talking about the fact you’d
never run anything like that in a circuit racing application but of course you’re
going straight in a circuit racing application, you’re going sideways when you’re drifting. Now in terms of optimising the camber
settings, how are you going about doing that, and I mean I’m guessing tyre
temperature, particularly at the rear is pretty tricky because you’re always turning
the rear tyres anyway. – Yeah so pretty much we use camber in the rear
to get more traction out of the car. And now it’s become a game more of getting
the tyres to last two laps. So if you’re getting uneven wear that means
that you’re getting hot spotted on the inside or the outside of the car, you use camber
to flatten that out. So you really want an even wear around the
entire tyre to make sure that you’re utilising all that rubber getting to the ground
to propel the car forward. – So rather than relying on conventional tyre
temperature pyros, something like that, due to the usage you can essentially look
at the wear and assess you camber requirements based on the wear? – Yeah yeah and I mean you can overheat
a tyre and it’ll last longer or you’re not getting it up to temp quick enough and
then you lose off the line or something. – Look it’s been great to get some insight
into that suspension setup Aaron and from what I understand, you’re stepping
up to Pro 2 for Formula Drift next year so we wish you all the best with your season
next year, thanks for the chat. – Thanks man, you guys have a good one. – If you liked that video
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