Elise' Handling Characteristics on the Track - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 04:55 PM Thread Starter
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Elise' Handling Characteristics on the Track

I know the car is a bit prone to understeer with the stock width front tires, but how does it handle beyond that point? Does more throttle help it transition and bring the back end around for a more effective exit, or do I need to be patient and moderate off the throttle and or steering to let the front regrip? Also, how easy / hard is it in general to create oversteer, and is it an easy to balance state, or does the rear tend to come around quickly?

Thanks ... looking forward to getting my Elise on track soon.
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post #2 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 05:17 PM
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Lift On Turns U Spin

Unless you have ability to delicately throttle steer. (I'm working on it).

Anyone can make something complicated. It takes genius to make it simple. Einstein.
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post #3 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 05:33 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BRTHTAKR View Post
Lift On Turns U Spin

Unless you have ability to delicately throttle steer. (I'm working on it).
Think of the thickness of one credit card at a time, that can help. Would expect trailing throttle oversteer, but seriously, any observations on how it transitions around is appreciated.
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post #4 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 05:44 PM
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The Elise responds best to smooth input from the driver. Sudden inputs will upset the car and slow you down (or throw you off the track). As BRTHTAKR says lifting off the throttle delicately will allow you to control the rear - which is basically saying you can steer on the throttle with practice
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post #5 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by GTI-Guy View Post
Think of the thickness of one credit card at a time, that can help. Would expect trailing throttle oversteer, but seriously, any observations on how it transitions around is appreciated.
Your response there reminded me of you background - I suspect you are a much better driver than I am! I manage understeer with both steering wheel and throttle inputs (you can't power through it - at least I can't in my 156hp Rover powered Elise) - I can easily get the back end around on a trailing throttle - have you seen the video where Gavan Kershaw demonstrate oversteer to Clarkson? - (from about halfway)
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post #6 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 06:36 PM
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Suspension? STD. or LSS? It is nicer to have a wider front rim.

De-shim or new steering arms w/ proper alignment, especially rear toe.

Non-LSD? For me no LSD gave more rear slip to work with.

Adjustable front sway good mod. If LSS you can mod the LSS bar.

Trail brake or lift to stick the front and then get on the throttle.

It is about the best handling stock car around. Not an oversteering car, very balanced, but if you lift in downhill esses, well ....

Last edited by Uncle Sam; 05-20-2010 at 06:48 PM. Reason: "or"
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post #7 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by GTI-Guy View Post
Think of the thickness of one credit card at a time, that can help. Would expect trailing throttle oversteer, but seriously, any observations on how it transitions around is appreciated.
First - I am totally lost with the credit card reference.

Second - What do you mean by "how it transitions around"?

One generally get into strife when you turn the front wheel to the point that the slip angles start getting large (which is the point where you are turning the wheel(s), and it is not turning at any greater rate).

Imagine going into a turn at a good clip, but maybe not too close to the limits... Like braking early and then getting back onto the throttle.

At some point one usually thinks "I am not turning enough, I need to turn more"
So you add in a bit more lock... And maybe more again, before you finally figure that turning the wheel is not helping a whole bunch, and then you think, "well turning is not working, maybe I should try slowing up??".
So the foot backs out.
Then the weight jumps back onto the front wheels all courtesy of the back wheels.
(Because the front wheels only have a few hundred pounds on each side to begin with) and you started off on the throttle moving some weight to the back a fair amount of weight can be shuffled around.)

So about the time the weight gets on the front wheels it is coming off the hind wheels. The back wheels were holding on fine, but now the fronts are biting brilliantly and yanking the front end around and increasing the rears wheel need to corner just to keep up.
But the rear wheels were near the limit before the weight got shifted to the front, and now they are past the limit.
The rotational rate looking down on the car from the top (yaw) has increased, with the front wheels are being driven into the pavement by the lift off, and the weight has been yanked from the rear wheels.

If you just lift, without the wheel turned too much, or lift and turn the wheel out it is less likely to spin. If you start with way too much lock, then the yaw rate is high, and that is likely a better indicator of a spin than anything.

As Steve points out smoothness helps.
If the weight and steering is being shifted fast, then the yaw rate is changing fast.
Smooth makes the changes seem slow enough to get a feel that it is headed in the wrong direction in time to change the grip on the controls.

If "Transitions around" means ability to generate large yaw rates, then yes it is able to transition around very well. Sometimes better than the operator has an appreciation for.

I am only a mediocre driver so your results may vary.
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post #8 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 06:42 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, thanks much for that video ... purty much a "rally" technique where you steer a bit to the outside of the turn, then inside while simultaneously squeezing in throttle to bring the back around and maintain it with throttle feathering.

Pretty entertaining how Clarkson felt so humbled by the chassis engineer!

So from the Stig, no drama, just smooth input like you say and balanced overlap from braking to steering to throttle.

Can't wait to learn how to make this baby work on track, and yes, have a little background there ... set up the instructor training program for the SCCA PDX program, and always looking ahead to the next opportunity to run in 24 hours of Lemons events ... nothing like wheel to wheel racing with a field of nearly 100 cars on track!

My experience is some RWD but mostly FWD, so that'll be a good foundation for the Elise, even though that comment may be a bit unpopular ... FWD does force you to be more patient and controlled with your inputs.
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post #9 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 06:49 PM
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Your best bet is to take your car to a skidpad and see what it does with its present set up and your driving style and then just go from there. What feels good to one driver may be completely horrible to another.
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post #10 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 06:50 PM
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It sounds like you have some experience. These cars are not as twitchy as some like to make them out to be, I use lots of throttle off oversteer(sometimes aggressively mid corner) intentionally to rotate the car but that is also just due to my setup. With the torsen diff in the car Its actually hard to get the rear end to come around on throttle unless you do something stupid, blatantly intentional, or initiate it on turn in. More throttle just induces more push. I'm installing a plate diff in the next couple weeks that I hope allows a lot more on throttle control. Other than that, the car has a very balanced turn in and a slightly tail happy off throttle behavior but that can also be used to rotate the car on entry to fight off the understeer on exit. You will be very happy as it is an incredibly rewarding car to drive.

rightseatdriver.
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post #11 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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Hey, just seeing the addt'l posts now ... look like we gots ourselves a hot topic! The patten I see in the comments / advice is once we feel some understeer, slightly lift off the throttle (the thickness of one credit card at a time) to transfer grip from the rear to the front, then as the fronts regain control, squeeze back in with the desired gusto for yaw / oversteer fun. The key to not spinning would be to not feed more steering into the understeering front ... that's what Mr Top Gear demo'd for us.

My car (picking up next week) has the team dynamics 7 inch wide fronts, so we'll see what that does for it. No idea on how the alignment was set. Touring, not a sport model. Stock other than the wheels.
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post #12 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 07:04 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZJChaser View Post
Other than that, the car has a very balanced turn in and a slightly tail happy off throttle behavior but that can also be used to rotate the car on entry to fight off the understeer on exit. You will be very happy as it is an incredibly rewarding car to drive.
I can't type fast enuf! Just saw your post, and youz sound like you've been around the track a few times too. Thanks for the "leveling" of the topic ... how about trail braking on corner entry ... work well in the Elise, or a bit too well?
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post #13 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 07:07 PM
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Touring has smaller diameter frt. sway bar. Spring rates a little to the softer and understeering side of things. No difference in shocks. I would search the forum's archives; tons of info.
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post #14 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 07:14 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Uncle Sam View Post
Touring has smaller diameter frt. sway bar. Spring rates a little to the softer and understeering side of things. No difference in shocks. I would search the forum's archives; tons of info.
Didn't know about the smaller FSB. Generally, I like to use the beefiest sway bars available while keeping the up and down stuff compliant for real world comfort.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tesprit View Post
Your best bet is to take your car to a skidpad and see what it does with its present set up and your driving style and then just go from there. What feels good to one driver may be completely horrible to another.
Yep, just planning to get fresh tires and then play around (gently) in the novice group to get a feel for the balance and handling characteristics.

Maybe I'm obsessing over this, but I don't right now feel comfortable hitting it full pace with a rear toe link brace / RTV set up.
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post #15 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 07:29 PM
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That is an awesome video.

++ Lift On Turns U Spin

-G
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post #16 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by GTI-Guy View Post
Didn't know about the smaller FSB. Generally, I like to use the beefiest sway bars available while keeping the up and down stuff compliant for real world comfort.
...
The chassis roll is not an issue in the real world, that need to be corrected with a FSB.
Generally there is only a narrow window of correct FSB, and it is determined in tandem with the spring rates, etc. If the FSB is not adjustable, that is a clue that it is probably never going to end up being perfect...
Bigger is not generally better, unless it needs to be because of other circumstances.
You might be well counseled to get the springs rates correct first.

In lieu of springs and FSB and springs, then the standard setup is likely going to a better place to start, than dicking-around with the setup one part at a time.

Unless the setup is bad, I have noticed that more often than not that the drivers are a better gauge of the cars performance than the chassis. If the driver is brilliant then the chassis modifications seem to help more than if the driver is not "switched-on".

As mentioned by a few people above (overtly or implied)... Start with the driver.
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post #17 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-21-2010, 05:14 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah, I think I'm getting ahead of myself, job 1 is standard set up, albeit with my wider front wheels, and see what I've got. I know the car's capes are going to exceed mine for quite some time!
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post #18 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-21-2010, 12:39 PM Thread Starter
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Here's a thought ... anyone that's ever driven the Elise also drive the Cayman? I drove the Cayman S on track (nice friend to let me do that) and that felt positively like a surgeon's scapel. The just seemed to find the line by itself.

If anyone knows how these 2 mid engine cars compare handling wise, holler in.
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post #19 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-21-2010, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by GTI-Guy View Post
Here's a thought ... anyone that's ever driven the Elise also drive the Cayman? I drove the Cayman S on track (nice friend to let me do that) and that felt positively like a surgeon's scapel. The just seemed to find the line by itself.

If anyone knows how these 2 mid engine cars compare handling wise, holler in.
The Cayman is a better balanced, easier to drive car, though less responsive to throttle input than the Elise/Exige. It's also more forgiving of mistakes, and is easier to control when the back end starts to come out. In all honesty the Cayman feels more like my MX 5 than it does my Exige, and that's not a bad thing.

In answer to your question above, you absolutely can trail brake an Elise, but it's marginally more difficult to modulate than some better balanced cars.
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post #20 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-21-2010, 06:53 PM Thread Starter
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Geezer ... got it and thanks. Only 1 week before I get to start finding out for myself when I pick up my car.
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