First event in the Elise; impressions, problems and questions. - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-29-2015, 05:58 PM Thread Starter
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Thumbs up First event in the Elise; impressions, problems and questions.

Let me start with a little background. I've been autocrossing in Subarus (ESP class WRX, then ASP class STI) for about 12 years and just picked up an 06 Elise to replace the STI as my autocross toy. It just got delivered two weeks ago, and my first event in the car was yesterday with the Virginia Motorsports Club in Richmond, VA.

My Elise is an 06 sport pkg, non-touring, with the LSD/TC options. Shocks are DA Ohlins pulled off an Exige Cup Car, along with the front sway bar from the Cup car as well. It also has DS brace, Gpan, APR carbon wing, Technocraft carbon/kevlar seats, wheel stud conversion holding on SSR Competition wheels. The only tires I have for it at the moment are pretty worn RE-11s that came on it. The PO is sending a used set of R1Rs he had as well.
Unfortunately, I have no idea where the alignment is set. The PO used it for track and street, and even though he had it aligned just before shipping, I don't have the specs.

Yes, these things put me in SSM, which I intend on staying in for now. Yes, I know the car wont be seriously competitive without a supercharger and massive hoosiers under cut clams. Locally and maybe even regionally, I think I could place well without the Supercharger, running a light and slow package; and yes, I've heard this has been tried and not worked [nationally].

Ok, initial impressions. Weeeeeeee! It's very different from the 3300lb, 350AWHP STI on 275 Hoosiers. I have a feeling once I'm used to the car, though, and tweak the setup, the Elise will be faster. I had no idea where to set tire pressures, so was totally shooting in the dark. I started at 32F/34R and dropped it every run, ending at 26F/28R hot. The car felt better at the lower pressures, but my times didn't improve dramatically. Despite getting 5 runs, my times plataued quickly and I got stuck at the 45.0sec mark. I think this was probably the nut behind the wheel more than anything else. It is so totally different from what I'm used to, and I probably didn't push as hard as I could have in many areas.

As expected, the car was great in transitions. There were some subtle (small offset) lane-change elements that I probably could have taken flat out, but found myself lifting at times (or not flooring it).
In sweepers, the car had more push than expected. I never had oversteer, despite running about 2lbs more pressure in the rear tires than front all day. I suspect the push is from a couple of things: 1) the wing with no front aero to match, and 2) not enough front camber, though I have no idea what the current specs are, as I said. Maybe, 3) it's just these tires aren't great for the chassis, and are worn (though the fronts are far better than the rears), and/or I just had the pressures all wrong (I didn't bring a pyrometer).

The lot surface was quite rough in spots, with some big washboard type stuff. It wasn't comfortable to drive over at speed, but it never significantly upset the car either, so the Ohlins seem to be working well. I'll admit, though embarrassed, I don't know what the current settings are on them. This event was meant as a baseline anyway, and it's not easy to get to the shocks to toy with (the PO has the reservoirs mounted in weird places...thats for another thread or post, I think)

I talked to a guy there, Marc Portanova, who said he used to run an Elise at the national level (now is in a GT3) and he gave me a few pointers and things. Interestingly, he suggested running a bigger front bar (I guess the BWR hardcore bar - I'm not sure how big the current Cup car bar is). This seemed counterintuitive to me with the amount of push I was getting. Does this sound right? I'll have to go look for the spring rates on my shocks as I'm sure that comes into play here.

Lastly, and maybe where I most want some input, the car seemed to be running a little hot. It was by no means hot ambient temp for the area, with a high in the low 80s that day. After every run, the coolant temp was reading 212ish. This seemed a bit hot to me. On the road, it was rock solid at 189-192 on the drive home. On hotter days last week, the highest I saw with normal road use was about 203. Should I be concerned at 212 after runs, or is this about normal? It's got a brand new, but OEM, radiator put it right before I bought it.

PS - what are most people doing for numbers on cars that are still street driven? The painter's tape is annoying when you have to put "SSM" after the number too.

Thanks for any and all input. I'm sure there will be many more questions from me as I develop the car - apologies in advance for the inundation of newb Qs.

~Matt
'06 CO Elise
'17 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro, cement grey
'16 VW GTI, Wifey's ride
Past toys: '02 WRX | '06 STI | '14 Subaru BRZ
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post #2 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-29-2015, 06:17 PM
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Hi one thing to think about is fuel starvation. It can run lean on left hand turns. Run with a full tank or close to it. If you do not inserts for motor mounts I think they help alot.
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post #3 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-29-2015, 07:03 PM Thread Starter
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Hi one thing to think about is fuel starvation. It can run lean on left hand turns. Run with a full tank or close to it. If you do not inserts for motor mounts I think they help alot.
I ran a 3/4 full tank. I've got a baffled fuel tank coming (came with the car, PO is mailing it) once I'm brave enough to attempt the installation.

~Matt
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post #4 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-29-2015, 08:40 PM
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Like similar cars, alignment is everything.

Remove all shims in the front for now (zip tie the ABS sensor wire), get a bigger bar since you can run a lot of camber eventually get BWRs bigger bar to preserve camber as the front will roll a bit less. Until you do get real amounts of front camber from steering arms or shorter control arms you can run anywhere from 0-1/4" toe-in on the rear depending on the front bar, your preference, tires, and surface. Zero in the front to a slight bit of toe out in the front. I just went through the alignment deal and so I this is very fresh to me since I went from stock track pack settings to now coilovers, camber, race tires, etc.

I have fuel starve too below about 5/8th of a tank so to be safe I just run with it nearly full. This problem got worse, as in needing more fuel, as the tires I ran got stickier.

Not sure about the temps, my Exige S with BOE tune never has gone above about 209F even on a 100F day here in the high desert track or autox.

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post #5 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-30-2015, 05:37 AM
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Hey, Ridemooch, welcome to the fun. I'm sure you'll learn to love the car once you get settled in. I've been auto-xing for 12 years and I'm more in to it now than I've ever been.

You absolutely need to get a base line reading for alignment, ride height, shock settings and tire pressures. There is nothing we can suggest to you now unless we know the above.

I'm in SSM and in the early stages of my build (pre clam cutting) I was able to develop the car enough to get 7th at nats.... and I'm sure had I stayed on 225/245 tires, the other things I've done since would improve that still. I bet if you can drive, you could get the car within a second of the fastest SSM car with out having to go to the big tires.

But first things first: base line settings and seat time.... all of which are useless unless you are on the right tires.
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post #6 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-30-2015, 05:38 AM
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Oh, and at the last event I was at (ambient of 94*), I was seeing up to 218 on the temp gauge. Yikes! It still worked though.
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post #7 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-30-2015, 05:51 AM
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With a recent radiator replacement, definitely keep an eye on your coolant levels. It can be tricky to bleed the system right, so it is very possible to have air bubbles. You may notice your coolant drop a bit every now and then until the bubbles all get worked out. Also, the fans don't kick on until it gets pretty hot, so I wouldn't worry if it hits 210+ but then drops. The service manual explains the hysteresis pretty well


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post #8 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-01-2015, 03:03 PM
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I'm running 50/50 orange coolant (whatever it is supposed to have) with a bottle of water wetter. Last weekend, two drivers, small run groups, so pretty back-to-back runs, I was seeing no more than 208F coming off course. It'd spike to 215 as soon as I shut it down.

I turn on the AC to get the fans going, spray the radiator, restart car a few minutes later, put hot water from engine into rad & vice versa, maybe repeat. Works ok for me. Was in Utah, 100F ambient in the afternoon.

212 is not bad. Mine sounds about the same - 189-192 driving around, around 200 in traffic on a hot day, 212ish after a run is likely fine. I do what I can to move water around between runs, but I'm probably overthinking it.
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post #9 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-01-2015, 07:11 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input, everyone. As soon as I get a free evening, I'm going to try to figure out what the shocks are currently set at. Still trying to track down the alignment specs from the PO/shop that aligned it.
I'll update this thread when I know more. Next autocross I can make is the 19th of July.

I also have a set of R1R tires, again the rears are pretty worn in the center (though near 4/32nds at the edges -so may have been overinflated before) but those should be stickier than RE-11s, right? Not sure if it's worth swapping tires on and off until I figure out the rest. May just sell the R1Rs.

~Matt
'06 CO Elise
'17 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro, cement grey
'16 VW GTI, Wifey's ride
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post #10 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-02-2015, 07:20 AM
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I'd just leave the RE11s on for the time being - I could not make R1Rs work (clearly they can, John did). The R1R is a pretty different tire than RE11/Z2/RS3/etc; it seems to like a lot of camber.

I suspect the R1R is ULTIMATELY faster than the RE11, but not much, and depending on size/who you believe, the R1R's rompound changes at 2-3/32. The 195/50-15 does not change, it is fast to nothing, and allegedly, the 235/40-17 is the same way (see "depending on who you believe"). When they get to that layer of rubber, they slow down a fair bit.


Iain
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post #11 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-09-2015, 05:00 PM Thread Starter
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Hey, Ridemooch, welcome to the fun. I'm sure you'll learn to love the car once you get settled in. I've been auto-xing for 12 years and I'm more in to it now than I've ever been.

You absolutely need to get a base line reading for alignment, ride height, shock settings and tire pressures. There is nothing we can suggest to you now unless we know the above.

Alright, finally got some baseline data.

Alignment the way it arrived to me:
Camber:
Front: -0.87 / -0.6
Rear: -2.1 / -1.9

Toe:
front 0/0
rear 0.19/0.20


The shocks, again, are DA Ohlins, reportedly off a cup car, along with an adjustable front sway bar I was told came with them off the cup car. I have the install manual from them, which gives recommended settings for everything for 'street' and 'race'.
Best I can tell, and I don't know why this information seems to be so hard to find, the spring rates are as follows:
Front : 325 lbs/in , 57 N/mm (ohlins 00180-44/57 L405)
Rear : 425 lbs/in , 74 N/mm (ohlins 00281-31/74 L085)

I dug into the car last night and checked where they were set when the car arrived, listed below.
Front: Rebound P9, Compression/bump P12
Rear: Rebound P10, Compression/bump P14

These settings are pretty soft compared to the recommended settings in the manual, so I moved them to the manual's 'race' settings:
Front: Rebound P3, Compression/bump P6
Rear: Rebound P17, Compression/bump P4

The sway bar has five settings/holes, and its in spot 3 already, which is the recommended race setting.

Tires again are worn RE11s and I had no idea where to start since I'm used to a 3400lb AWD subaru. I started at about 32F 34R, and slowly came down so that my last lap I was 26F 28R. it was still understeering on slow stuff, with no oversteer on quick transitions, so I left a couple more pounds in the rear than front the whole time. Despite this pretty large change in pressures, I never really got much faster or slower, though it did 'feel' subjectively a bit better at lower pressures.


So, that's a lot of info. Any input is appreciated. I'm pretty certain I need much more spring rate as I go to stickier tires, but not sure I can do that on the current shocks, which makes for an expensive change. Also need way more camber. Not sure what to do with the front bar either. I've read several conflicting statements on the BWR regular bar vs the hardcore bar depending on what spring rates and yadda yadda. I've got a lot to do. New cars are fun!

~Matt
'06 CO Elise
'17 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro, cement grey
'16 VW GTI, Wifey's ride
Past toys: '02 WRX | '06 STI | '14 Subaru BRZ
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post #12 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-09-2015, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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Oh ya, and video for giggles:


~Matt
'06 CO Elise
'17 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro, cement grey
'16 VW GTI, Wifey's ride
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post #13 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-10-2015, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by RideMooch View Post
So, that's a lot of info. Any input is appreciated. I'm pretty certain I need much more spring rate as I go to stickier tires, but not sure I can do that on the current shocks, which makes for an expensive change. Also need way more camber. Not sure what to do with the front bar either. I've read several conflicting statements on the BWR regular bar vs the hardcore bar depending on what spring rates and yadda yadda. I've got a lot to do. New cars are fun!
There are some quick Eliges around here running r-compound tires with rates that are not that much higher than yours.

On the compression canisters, what shock series is listed? If they are LOV "F" valving, your shocks can handle increased spring rates (within reason).

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post #14 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-10-2015, 08:49 AM
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I run 450/500 springs. They work well enough, I'm going to experiment with 500/600 eventually. Also I run the hardcore bar (I was on the 5 position Track Package bar originally) and would recommend the same especially once you get front camber. Right now the lack of camber in the front is why your balance feels ok, once you get -2.5 or more in there, you'll likely find like I did that the car is extremely different and needs a lot more bar and rear toe.

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post #15 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-10-2015, 10:24 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jdawson View Post

On the compression canisters, what shock series is listed? If they are LOV "F" valving, your shocks can handle increased spring rates (within reason).
Don't know - I'll have to check. That's really useful info though, thanks.
Where are folks buying Ohlins size springs in higher rates? A google search last night got me bupkis.

Last edited by RideMooch; 07-10-2015 at 10:26 AM.
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post #16 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-10-2015, 10:25 AM Thread Starter
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I run 450/500 springs. They work well enough, I'm going to experiment with 500/600 eventually. Also I run the hardcore bar (I was on the 5 position Track Package bar originally) and would recommend the same especially once you get front camber. Right now the lack of camber in the front is why your balance feels ok, once you get -2.5 or more in there, you'll likely find like I did that the car is extremely different and needs a lot more bar and rear toe.
Sorry, on which shocks are you running that much spring? Are you getting uneven or fast tire wear on the strew with the extra toe? Or are you towing to events.
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post #17 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-10-2015, 11:43 AM
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Sorry, on which shocks are you running that much spring? Are you getting uneven or fast tire wear on the strew with the extra toe? Or are you towing to events.
He's on Hoosiers and towing to events. His shocks are JRZ RS Pros.

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post #18 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-10-2015, 11:46 AM
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I drive the car on the street but I do tow to events I run Hoosiers, it's in my work parking lot right now all covered in decals. There will definitely be some interesting/bad tire wear but I only plan to do about 4k miles a year on the street going forward. As Jake mentioned I'm on JRZs that ride similarly to your car, just a touch softer. I doubt you'd be able to tell the spring rates much, 100lbs doesn't really do much, the shock valving does a lot more and you have good ones if they are healthy.

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post #19 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-10-2015, 12:20 PM
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...if they are healthy.
Besides valving issues, leaking seals or contaminated oil, here's something I noticed when dynoing a set of Ohlins LOV "F" dampers for a buddy:


The rubber bushings showed significant play after approximately 11k miles of use. The bushings can be sourced for about $100 (if I recall correctly) for all four shocks.

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post #20 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-16-2015, 10:18 AM Thread Starter
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Second event was this past Sunday.

The shock adjustments made a big difference, and there was less steady-state understeer. It did get a bit more tail-happy than before, but was controllable, and is likely partly due to me re-learning how to drive in a very different platform.

My biggest problem this past weekend was cones - apparently the rear fenders are way wider than they are in my head I coned away 3 runs and was called off-course on another (though I have no idea where I went off), so no clean runs for me. On the brighter side, my times (sans cone) would have been good enough for first in class (was running SSM Tire).

The chassis could definitely use more tire, so I guess that'll be the next big move. I'm contemplating stiffening up the front bar as well and see what that does, though hopefully doesn't sway the balance back to understeering. I figure until I can afford a major suspension upgrade, I'll take the street class philosophy of softer springs, more bar.

Unfortunately it seems it really does need the clutch replaced, so that will massively eat into my parts budget.

and pics for fun:





~Matt
'06 CO Elise
'17 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro, cement grey
'16 VW GTI, Wifey's ride
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