There’s a difference in being comfortable in a car on the road and comfortable on the track!
The classic McDonald’s car park, lean back, one had on the 12 o’clock fast and furious style isn’t going to help you when you hit the circuit.
Here’s a brief guide to a suitable seating and steering position, to aid you in not only being comfortable, but also best placed to control the car should it get loose. Here you will also find solutions to help you achieve the ideal driving position.
Back to basics
Benefits of achieving the ideal seat and steering position;
Allows a good grip of the steering wheel, with a full range of movement, even when being thrown about in the corners
Reduce the chances of fatigue (for faster more consistent lap times)
Give you maximum control over the car at all times
Let’s start with the legs, these are easy to get right and once comfortable makes it easier to figure out if any steering wheel changes are needed. It’s far easier to bring the wheel closer or further away and lets face it you cant change the length of your legs!
Fully depress the clutch, brake and throttle pedals, your knees should have a slight bend when the pedals are fully pressed. Make sure your knees don’t come into contact with any other part of the interior.
As the clutch and throttle have the most travel, these are the two key pedals to measure your legs with.
For drivers with recline chairs, the natural back position is more upright when on track than on the road. This ensures better support, vision over the wheel and freedom of movement.
The steering wheel
This is where most get it wrong, so particular attention must be paid here.
If wearing a harness, your back should be pushed up against the backrest. Now place your arms on top of the steering wheel without leaning forward.
If the wheel is sitting on your wrist, you’re on the right path. If it’s not, you may need to consider a dished steering wheel or a steering wheel spacer, these are available from BG Racing in various sizes.
Now turn the wheel or run your hands around the wheel to mimic a full turn. If your arms or elbows hit the door, rollcage or your knees, then consider investing in a smaller diameter steering wheel. We downsized from a 350mm to a 330mm from @momouk. If you have power assisted steering, you could consider a 300mm wheel.
Your natural grip of the wheel should be light and in the 9 o’clock – 3 o’clock position. Fatigue sets in when you strangle the wheel which also leads to stiff arms. Remind yourself when on the straights just to loosen up and relax your grip, it will soon come naturally. The Momo Mod.78 wheel sits nicely in the thenar space of the hand to provide a comfortable grasp of the wheel.
If you feel like you’ve got it right, have a go at worst case scenario movements of the wheel. You should be able to comfortably carry out a full half turn each way without moving your hands from the 9 and 3 position.
You should still have a slight bend in your elbow when at a quarter turn. To ensure you are relaxed, comfortable and can react easily to loss of traction.
Fig 1, Arm stretched – Tends to tense up the arm and hinder the reaction to sudden oversteer
Fig 2, Arm slightly bent – Lends itself to a more relaxed driving style, allowing better control and steering input into loss of traction.
Now you’ve got that right! Here’s he final part.
This is simply a matter of comfort, the only rule is to ensure there is an inch or two of clearance between the roof or rollcage and no contact with your helmet. You can also utilise the height of your seat to get a better height of the wheel of your column is not adjustable.
Ultimately this guide is only to assist you in setting up your driving position. Preferences change from driver to driver. Do not force yourself to follow these guidelines if it does not feel natural or comfortable.
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Spa Francorchamps has been on the bucket list for quite sometime now. After visiting twice as a passenger in some exotic machinery, it was time to break my virginity on a circuit which holds one of the most famous corners on the F1 calendar, if you don’t know what section of the track I’m talking about, are you even a car guy??!! Of course its Eau Rouge.
Let me tell you now…. it did not disappoint! With a wet start to the day, we made a few set up changes to the car, it wasn’t a full wet set up as the forecast predicted it would dry out around mid day. Damping adjustments and tyre pressures were enough of a compromise to go out and get to know the track, find where the grip was and get a feel for what was going on.
That said, Spa actually had a good amount of grip even in the wet! More so than the majority of UK circuits I’d driven wet laps on previously. With the car feeling good I settled into a 4o minute stint enjoying the circuit! Needless to say lunchtime came too soon as the track was rightly drying out and getting quicker. My softer set up wasn’t suited to the ever increasing grip which meant the car was taking every corner on 3 wheels…. time to switch back to dry spec, grab some lunch and see if I had the balls to attack Eau Rouge flat.
After fuelling up with the over priced buffet, we prepped the car ready to get some more seat time and really get to know the track.
It was dry conditions now and an exit speed of approx 100mph from Eau Rouge was achievable. With the car limited to 130mph (not really built for top end speed) I suffered a little in the straights, which meant a slight lift and coast to avoid holding the engine on the limiter.
But once into Les Combes, the next corner after Eau Rouge, the car really came into its own. With 4 Pot AP CP5040 calipers upfront combined with DS3000 pads and 304mm rotas, braking can be left really late, as you can see from the video, there is still more time to be had, but this was a comfortable braking distance which allowed me to put in another 40 minute stint in the car. And trust me, when the engine temps are good, the tyres are consistent and your belting round one of the best circuits in the world, your not going to get bored easily. The fact is, running out of fuel is the only thing that put a halt to proceedings!
Check out the best lap of the day, a 2:56! (Click to view) It was nearly a full clear lap, the exception was an evo which we closed on quite rapidly in the braking area.
With the car performing faultlessly (apart from it being a little loose at the rear) it was time to load it back into the truck, the day was done. After many battles, 4 tanks of fuel, some sideways moments and much fun, it was time to leave this amazing circuit. If you’ve ever thought about going, stop thinking and get it booked! Even in the rain, its a great experience!
Meanwhile, lets rewind to the day before Spa, when we took a day trip to the Ring.
2017 was our 10 year anniversary, that’s 10 years lapping the Nurburgring, mostly an annual trip, we sometimes squeeze in a second or third visit to the Greenhell. This was our second visit this year.
BUT, no two laps are the same………………………………………
With over 100 laps around the ring in this car alone, I’m quite comfortable behind the wheel. Its built to turn in well, has a small tendency to oversteer, but that’s what makes a fwd work on track.
Well, on my 4th lap of the day, I became that guy who spun on the Nurburgring……………..
Yep that was me, the guy who spun on what you might as well call the first corner of the Nordschleife, It might as well been my first ever lap on the ring with this kind of performance!!
You will see that the car doesn’t initially break away, but when it does, its travelling at such a slow speed that trying to pull it out of the slide is not really possible and could of left me stranded in the middle of the track with traffic fast approaching. So after a dab of throttle I decide to hit the brakes and let the car come to a halt on the edge of the circuit.
Which seems to be a wise move as there was a fast approaching Leon! I saw the whites in his eyes he was that close.
See the video here (click to view)
So that was my 1st ever spin on the Nurburgring, but this trip still had one more surprise left in store for me.
One which gave me a certain title, a certain exclusivity. Part of an elite club you might say.
I didn’t choose it, it chose me.
Yep, I’m officially part of Club Bongard. £364 euros lighter in the pocket for the privilege too!
So here’s the low down of things you need to know.
A nearside cv joint let go when under full load through the right hander at Bergwerk (just after the half way exit point)
The car still rolling I spotted a gap in the barrier where my car and the crews would be safe, and, far enough off the circuit not to close any part of the track, or even get the cones out!!!
What happened next
Now tucked well out of sight, I thought I may have to ring for recovery. Huge credit to the marshals, they were on the scene within minutes!!!
Now if your ever unfortunate enough to join club Bongard, here’s a breakdown of what you can expect.
– They ask what the problem is (I tell them driveshaft/cv joint as I already know)
– A quick run round the car to assess for damage or leaks
– Next, they ask for a driving licence, insurance docs and take down all your details on an ipad
– Phone for recovery
– Recovery arrives and the car gets loaded, no f**ks given
Now here’s what I wasn’t expecting, maybe I’m naive in this situation.
– You can not ride in the recovery truck, despite no damage, leaks or any obstruction to the circuit
– You get driven in a diesel estate (quite fast) to the track side office, where they decide how much you owe the track for their services
– Then you have to make your own way to Bongard in Adenau to collect the car and pay recovery fees
Now I got lucky in some respects and I hope it was down to the fact I was able to pull off in a sensible and safe location. However it could have also been due to a huge crash before the mini Karussell which involved a GT86 among others vehicles, that I was not asked to pay anything in the circuit office.
So, after getting a lift to Bongard (and beating my own car back to their storage yard) I was greeted with the following itemised bill;
Admin fee – 33 euro – The kind lady had to print off my receipt
Recovery fee – 218 euro – Not bad for 30 minutes work
Collection fee – 54 euro – That’s for the guy that pressed the button to open/close the gate to the yard
After towing my car out the yard and fitting a new cv joint/driveshaft in 15 minutes (new record maybe?)
We called it a day and loaded up, ready for Spa Francorchamps.
This incident did leave me with some unanswered questions…….
Is it now time to stop with TF and move onto full track days?
Are recovery charges in force during Nurburgring track days? Or even more so, if the worst happened, cost to barriers and track closures?
How much safer are track days over TF days?
The Nurburgring is a dangerous place. It has the potential to bankrupt you.. or even worse, take your life. Both of these statements are not even an exaggeration. As I write this blog, I hear of a new Porsche GT3 dropping coolant with catastrophic consequences.
And even after all of this, we still take that risk? Well, I for one have no plans to stop our traditional Nurburgirng trip any time soon, the question is more so, TF or track days.
I love TF days, you choose when to go out, its more of a social thing, it brings people togeather and turns one day into 2 or 3 or more! If its raining, no one is forcing you to go out, you’ve no real money to loose, you can save your laps for another day. There are so many pros to a TF day.
With trackdays, you obviously get access to the full straight, less traffic and what you would hope is a better standard of driving and etiquette. But, that comes with a price, what if there’s a mechanical issue or the unpredictable weather turns bad.
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I’ve just walked through the door after spending another day in sub zero degrees, slaving away in the garage, trying to find the cause of a mysterious wheel play issue after my most recent trackday at Snetterton. I’ve completely lost count on the amount of hours spent working on my car, the amount of money plowed into it, the amount of times I’ve cracked a knuckle, gained a new scar, drawn blood and sweated over that piece of metal! And for what? To drive around in a circle, to go through more tyres, brakes and fuel in one day than my daily does in 6 months! Well, maybe not the fuel but you get the idea.
The picture above was taken by one of our photographers during our exclusive track session at Forge Action Day 2016. I’ve been attending this show for years, but it was the first time we have held a stand and track time here. As with all the events we do here at trackobsession, we get to see some familiar faces and meet some new ones too. Adam Millet (pictured above) was one of those new faces. He was enthusiastic, friendly and outgoing. It was easy to connect with Adam, not only because he was a personable guy, but we shared the same passion, for performance cars and track driving.
Adam passed away shortly after we had met in an unfortunate road accident.
He will be sadly missed by all of his friends and family.
So why do track days make sense? Because like Adam, those moments on track make everything else worth while, the adrenaline and accomplishment of nailing that apex, braking as late as you can into that hairpin or controlling that slide. Getting in that perfect lap, knowing that you’ve made the most out of every once of your car. Memories are made and new friends are too.
I’ll leave you with this, I can name 5 people I now class as close friends through the track/car scene, can you?
We’ve seen and heard a lot about Nankangs first serious track day tyre, the AR-1. Some good, some bad and some indifferent. So with plenty of seat time under our belts this year and the car refined in every other way, its time to test some different rubber and compare it to the likes of Toyo and Dunlop that we’ve used previously.
Initial impressions. Firstly, I’ve never understood why track dedicated tyre manufacturers don’t easily display recommended tyre pressures and tyre temperature operating windows. The tyre was developed for the track, these manufacturers have the data so why not make our lives easier and display it! Thankfully Nankang have this easily listed on their site. Which is great!! With the track day enthusiast getting more and more technical in their abilities, tyres and brakes being the most talked about subjects, readily available information like recommended pressures, tyre temp operating windows and recommended camber settings puts Nankang one step ahead in my opinion. They even have recommended camber settings! Top work.
Do Toyo, Yokohama and Dunlop have this information available to you? Not that I can see easily and i shouldn’t have to delve into the realms of the internet to find it either! What would it take to add this info onto the sticker of each tyre? I’m sure I could swallow the extra 1 pound in production cost to add this information, could you?
This is the problem with motorsport, customer service is a low priority compared to other industries, but that’s a subject for another day, back to the review.
After scrubbing the tyres in (we followed data from Avon tyres website for this) then we set about getting the tyre pressures right and picking up the lines round Snetterton 300 circuit.
Before we go into performance, here’s a top line run down of the car, around 210-220 bhp depending on dyno’s, 915kg in race trim, c20xe 2.0 commonly known as the redtop on jenvey throttle bodies, Quaife straight cut 5 speed box and gripper diff, GAZ gold suspension, AP 5040 brakes with Tilton floor mount pedal box and Ferodo ds uno pads, rose jointed lower arms for camber and caster, plus all the usual modifications.
So onto how the tyre feels. Firstly, our tyre size is 205/50/15, although the profile might seem high to most, this is typical for this size tyre in a semi slick and what we have ran in both the Toyo R888, R888R and Dunlop 03g. But mounting these on the wheel, we noticed straight away that the AR-1 is a wider tyre and with clearance being an issue, there was slight concern that some arch rubbing could occur. Another observation was that the tyre wall was stiffer than the r888r and similar to the Dunlop in our opinion.
After building up our speed, we found we were dropping a lot of pressure out the tyres to keep them in their recommended window. The tyre responded well to this and typically found that 2-3psi less pressure worked best in the Nankang AR-1 compared to the Toyo R888r which responded better to a higher pressure.
In the end we settled with a balanced 28psi hot all round which seemed to give a very even tyre wear.
Now onto the grip! Initial thoughts….. impressed! Braking felt very stable, we seemed to be able to brake later and harder without any wheel lock, could we have locked the wheels? Yes we have the braking efficiency to do so, but if I applied the same pedal force on the Toyo tyres I believe white clouds would have appeared!
High speed turn in felt abit better than the Toyo but not as positive as the Dunlop. However once the tyre was under load, it performed very well at high speed and confidence inspiring which allowed me to push on! Carrying more speed through turn 1 and Corum notably, thats long right hander before the pit straight.
This transpired into an impressive lap time capable of dipping into the 2:11’s round Snettertons 300 circuit. That’s 4 seconds faster than our most recent lap using the Toyo R888r. Maybe the R888r had a faster time in them, but the Nankang felt like it was less likely to break away at high speed, again adding confidence to push on through fast sections, ultimately where you’re more likely to gain time over the course of a lap.
Performance in mind, the Nankang is similar to the more expensive Dunlop initially, however, how they compare halfway through their tyre life, we have yet to find out.
This bring us onto tyre wear, I wouldn’t say they wore quicker or slower then any other brand. In hindsight, if you utilise the tyre as per the specs of the manufacture, you should be able to maximise the tyre life, providing your names not Ken Block drifting and smoking the tyres.
How do they fair in the wet?
Well, not particularly well, but that’s to be expected given the tread pattern. If the track is mildly damp then I would use these over a road tyre and raise the tyre pressures. But in wet conditions the performance is below that of a Toyo R888 tyre which i would choose over the Nangkang.
As a bench mark, these Nankang AR-1’s were 3 seconds a lap slower than Uniroyal rain sport 3’s round Snetterton 300.
If you’re looking for a good dry track tyre within a budget, then from our experience, the Nangkang AR-1 is recommended highly! Good levels of grip and feedback through the car, intermediate tyre wear and enough information to know that you’re maximising the tyre for your set up.
If you want more of an all rounder then maybe the Toyo is better suited and if you do have the budget, well the Dunlop is still an excellent tyre proven on many makes and models, more than capable of taking race wins.
How is this comparable to me?
Some might say, but it’s a Corsa, on a tyre review? Of course, they’re right, it is a corsa. But, it still has 4 wheels, an agressive LSD, straight cut close ratio box, 240 bhp/ton and more importantly, it’s been vertually unchanged across various tyres which makes it quite a fair test. It’s also been driven on the limit for well over 5 years, we know how the car reacts. Therefor we can provide a fairly accurate comparison in our opinion.
Of course different tyres will work better or worse on different cars, depending on weight, set up and driving style.
But for the money these currently sit at, we know where our next purchase will be. They may not be the best tyre on the market, but they certainly aren’t the worst. Which makes this AR-1 a good choice for trackday goers and club motorsport racers on a reasonable budget.