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Friday 29th June 2012

PH Fleet: Lotus Elise Sport 135

Why's the Elise apparently slower with its new suspension? Updated with video!



It's been a month of head banging in the Elise and, despite the appalling weather, it has nothing to do with smacking it on the hardtop. It all started with a last minute booking for an evening track day at Brands Hatch. Having had so much done to the Elise recently, I was itching to find out what difference all the upgrades have made on a track I know well.

It's been 12 months since I've driven the Indy circuit, and in that time the car has had new suspension, tyres, brake pads and discs. All of the parts I've replaced are considered upgrades by most in the Elise community - Yokohama Advan Neova LTS in place of Hankook RS2 tyres, Nitron NTS dampers for ancient Bilsteins and Carbon Lorraine RC5+ pads instead of Mintex 1144s - so I arrived at Brands fully expecting the car to feel substantially improved.

Chassis sorted, so where's the speed?
Chassis sorted, so where's the speed?
Setting the benchmark
Watching last year's in-car videos, my previous best lap time in the Elise was 59 seconds. This was done on a warm summer's evening with a lovely sticky track - pretty much the ideal conditions.

Although much cooler for the follow-up, the track was thankfully dry all evening. Once again I primed the Go-Pro ready to check out the lap times later. Of course, this is a road car, and lap times are essentially irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, but that doesn't make me any less curious to make the comparison.

After a couple of warm-up sessions I found some space and got stuck in. However, my early optimism soon began to fade. The brakes were giving me no confidence whatsoever. They were neither fading nor overheating; the car just wasn't slowing down in a hurry.

With all the new bits Danny had hoped for more
With all the new bits Danny had hoped for more
Gripping results
Added to that the tyres were giving me less grip than I was anticipating. On the turn-in to Surtees, particularly, the front end just seemed to want to wash.

I was beginning to feel a little like Felipe Massa. All that was missing was Rob Smedley in my ear telling me I still had an inch of throttle travel left.

Sure enough, checking out the video afterwards proved my worst fears; my best lap was just over two seconds slower than last year which is an eternity on a short track like the Indy. And the times weren't erratic either, they were just consistently slow.

Not being a race engineer I'm pretty stumped as to why this is. Making so many changes since the last trip makes it pretty tough to narrow it down to any one culprit. Perhaps it was the track that was lacking grip rather than the car. Maybe it was a combination of several things, or simply the old bits were better than the new parts. Perhaps I've just got slower. As always, answers on a postcard gratefully received!


UPDATE! Before and after video with Danny at brands with and without his new set-up...


Fact sheet
Car:
1998 Lotus Elise Sport 135
Run by: Danny Milner
Bought: October 2010
Purchase price: £9,500
This month at a glance: Go faster bits apparently make the car ... go slower. Damn!

Previous reports:
Rain stops play so Danny reads some old reviews of his car
New suspension and a shakedown at Abbeville
A Lotus joins the PH Fleet!

 

 

 

 

Danny Milner
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Author Discussion

MrFreight

Original Poster:

122 posts

35 months

[news] 
Thursday 28th June 2012 quote quote all

Hi - Maybe you didn't get the new tyres nicely scrubbed in and / or tyre pressure issue ? On the brake front - interesting one - can't think they weren't bedded in after several laps - perhaps glazed Pads?

Just my initial thoughts

MF

ceebmoj

1,656 posts

147 months

[news] 
Thursday 28th June 2012 quote quote all
I never relay got on with the Advan Neova LTS on the fount of my Elise, like you the fount just seemed to push wide. However as so much has changed you need to get used to the new feel of the car.

MiseryStreak

1,418 posts

93 months

[news] 
Thursday 28th June 2012 quote quote all
It sounds like your new pads need bedding in, worse than worn out pads at first, they should have starting improving with lots of hard braking though. Same for the tyres, very new tyres can be lethally slippy. Lastly, maybe the new stiffer suspension set up isn't favouring the car's attitude and therefore your confidence in the corners? Sometimes a little bit of roll can help turn in and provide more grip. I think once you scrub the tyres and bed in the pads, and possibly tweak the damper settings you'll be going quicker than before. Don't underestimate the difference a few degrees of track temperature can make either, why track time comparisons of road cars on different days are often misleading.

964Cup

478 posts

123 months

[news] 
Thursday 28th June 2012 quote quote all
Get a tyre temperature gauge; it might be that you weren't getting enough heat into the fronts. Get some one-time temperature stickies, too, and put them on the calipers to see what brake temperatures you're generating. I'm not an Elise expert, so I don't know if the car has ABS or not; if it does, were you triggering it under hard braking? If not, were you locking the wheels? You may find that the damper changes have effectively changed your brake balance (by reducing dive); think about adding a balance adjuster. If the car has adjustable ARBs, you might try playing with those to bring the balance closer to neutral - soften the front and/or stiffen the rear.

I assume you don't have any logging on the car, so can't compare traces?

Hellbound

2,246 posts

62 months

[news] 
Thursday 28th June 2012 quote quote all
Sounds like you've gained weight.


No more pasties for you....fatty. biggrin
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LaurasOtherHalf

8,366 posts

82 months

[news] 
Thursday 28th June 2012 quote quote all
Hellbound said:
Sounds like you've gained weight.


No more pasties for you....fatty. biggrin
or old.

or both.

you old fatty!

Mr2Mike

12,338 posts

141 months

[news] 
Thursday 28th June 2012 quote quote all
You already had pretty good brake pads and tyres, so unless the original suspension was absolutely knackered then your "upgrades" are pretty insignificant.

Did you get the geometry properly set up when the suspension was replaced?

PastorOfMuppets

483 posts

52 months

[news] 
Thursday 28th June 2012 quote quote all
Nothing clever to add, but sympathise with the frustration and hope to read a report (soon) about fixing it all and having the car as intended!

chiefs

8 posts

46 months

[news] 
Thursday 28th June 2012 quote quote all
You can only drive to the current grip levels.
Not fair on yourself to compare the two sessions.
Also Lotus spent a lot of time fine tuning their cars so that each component works together, the bolt on changes may have just upset things.

Renomaxi

38 posts

30 months

[news] 
Thursday 28th June 2012 quote quote all
When will people leave cars alone...lotus have some of the best engineers in the country working on a purpose built circuit to develop this car which being so light and stiff will respond to changes you put in.
Pads could be glazed if you have changed compounds you must de-glaze the discs 1st to rid all remnants of old material but it sounds like the pad is too hard an 1144 is fine for regular drivers and gives good feel which is far more important to regular drivers, these latest craze carbon pads and discs are largely unnecessary and people cannot use them correctly or forever lock wheels up especially with lowered cars that have not been bump steered correctly.
Changing dampers unless you know the valving and have the appropriate spring changes to suit you could have done any number of things to the car and if we were to change something that significant we would have a professional driver shake down the car with engineers to establish solutions to this problem involving roll bars, bump, rebound blah blah blah do you have these? If not my suggestion is spend the most important thing...track time in the car you knew well and consistently and learn to drive it better and smoother you cannot do that if you move the datum point.
We call it the art of complicating track driving, leave the car alone and drive it if you are not competing you have no need to feel like you are under equipped so keep it simple.
Grippy tyres are not always the key either they can remove a fluid blanced car to an edgy unforgiving car in one swift move again without suitable changes. If it was catalogue simple to make racing cars...kids could do it.

Mr E

15,447 posts

145 months

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Thursday 28th June 2012 quote quote all
I'd be looking at geometry and tyre pressures (my S2 is very sensitive to tyre pressure on the track).

Steff

1,377 posts

149 months

[news] 
Thursday 28th June 2012 quote quote all
Did you forget to take your brave pills before you ventured out on track?

St John Smythe

4,604 posts

103 months

[news] 
Thursday 28th June 2012 quote quote all
Steff said:
Did you forget to take your brave pills before you ventured out on track?
You need them at Brands. I remember the first time I went down Paddock Hill! yikes

Renomaxi

38 posts

30 months

[news] 
Thursday 28th June 2012 quote quote all
chiefs said:
You can only drive to the current grip levels.
Not fair on yourself to compare the two sessions.
Also Lotus spent a lot of time fine tuning their cars so that each component works together, the bolt on changes may have just upset things.
My point exactly! And the sad fact is that if you had left the car alone you would then have valuable data about conditions, driving style etc you can THEN begin messing a bit with tyre pressures as you have a starting point and data.

UNCOMPLICATE IT eBay is great for that wink

wooooody

905 posts

123 months

[news] 
Thursday 28th June 2012 quote quote all
Renomaxi said:
When will people leave cars alone...lotus have some of the best engineers in the country working on a purpose built circuit to develop this car which being so light and stiff will respond to changes you put in.
Pads could be glazed if you have changed compounds you must de-glaze the discs 1st to rid all remnants of old material but it sounds like the pad is too hard an 1144 is fine for regular drivers and gives good feel which is far more important to regular drivers, these latest craze carbon pads and discs are largely unnecessary and people cannot use them correctly or forever lock wheels up especially with lowered cars that have not been bump steered correctly.
Changing dampers unless you know the valving and have the appropriate spring changes to suit you could have done any number of things to the car and if we were to change something that significant we would have a professional driver shake down the car with engineers to establish solutions to this problem involving roll bars, bump, rebound blah blah blah do you have these? If not my suggestion is spend the most important thing...track time in the car you knew well and consistently and learn to drive it better and smoother you cannot do that if you move the datum point.
We call it the art of complicating track driving, leave the car alone and drive it if you are not competing you have no need to feel like you are under equipped so keep it simple.
Grippy tyres are not always the key either they can remove a fluid blanced car to an edgy unforgiving car in one swift move again without suitable changes. If it was catalogue simple to make racing cars...kids could do it.
They're Nitrons.

They've been very well developed for the lotus application over the past 10 years or so and are used very extensivley, inc the Elsie Trophy etc... The dampers used here are not the usual £400 spax type affair.

Also the tyres are what Lotus spec, and have done for again around 10 years, for the S1. They are marked LTS and are unique to the S1, not likely to be the issue.


braddo

4,459 posts

74 months

[news] 
Thursday 28th June 2012 quote quote all
Aren't the RS2s considered track tyres? Perhaps not as sticky as A048s/888s but I would expect them to have more grip than your new Yokos (I didn't find the ones on my Elise to have terribly high grip, but perhaps they were a little old).

So your previous day involved grippier tyres and a higher track temperature....


Others above mentioned 2 important points that might be factors too:
- geometry not aggressive enough to match the new coilovers and ride height
- stiffer suspension = less nose dive = less weight on front wheels under braking and on turn in (I found the Elise has hopeless low-speed front-end grip unless turn-in is done under braking).

I miss my 135. frown

Oddball RS

1,431 posts

104 months

[news] 
Thursday 28th June 2012 quote quote all
This is not a straight forward one,

Was the suspension bushing ok? did you increase the front camber at all when you swopped tyres, like many i found it played a big part when you went to sticker tyres, otherwise it will just seem to wash out. (Were you starting with a totally standard start point?)

Don't forget yes the tyres are good, but they are road tyres and worn down old tyres often perform better than they deserve too, it you want to track it buy track day tyres and live with it on the road.

Had you done a few hundred road miles before hand, with the mods done? to clean the release agent off the tyres and get the feel for the car as it is now, confidence is a large part of this.

Swopping to very expensive dampers is great but did you experiment with the settings? and even if you get them right for you they only shave tenths off not turn you into Senna.

suffolk009

1,358 posts

51 months

[news] 
Thursday 28th June 2012 quote quote all
Just a thought,... but maybe the ride and handling engineers at Lotus got it right.

Renomaxi

38 posts

30 months

[news] 
Thursday 28th June 2012 quote quote all
Well something's changed and my point is if the car was left at a fixed point you could identify conditions, people are way to quick to start changing car parts rather than understanding the base package and getting the best out of that 1st.
Make changes and make them progressively, otherwise you are back to trial by elimination and going backwards.

Nitrons spax whatever...a trophy car is a very much stiffer bit of kit and they will not be standing still I can tell you,someone will be testing and testing with those cars to suit so just because they use them does not make it a foregone conclusion, we have a van diemen rf91 that we have recently fitted with ohlins and is not the one stop solution we hoped for!

garypotter

801 posts

36 months

[news] 
Thursday 28th June 2012 quote quote all
Good reply renomaxi.

Did you have a heavy night before (Curry a couple of beers a few jokes and then a lot more beers...)

Track time is the key to faster laps

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