Lotus Elan

Nervous handling on the edge

PostPost by: Uboat » Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:00 pm

Hi,

I have driven my car on a race track day for the first time, and in general I was mighty pleased by the behavior of the +2. I did 160 kilometers on the track, almost all of them in full speed with no failures and still superb brakes.

As I have read only appraisal for the handling of the +2, I was surprised to find my car oversteering and nervous on the edge in very sharp corners, with little possibility to control the drift with the accelerator. In high speed curves, there was no problem at all. I have noticed nothing of this before, but then I have not pushed the car to the limit on the road.


Is this nervous behavior on the edge normal, or should I work on the suspension setup? I'm planning for track tyres, but I suspect this will turn my car even more edgy

I have normal road tyres 175/70 x 13 (Michelin Energy) with poor grip with original rear suspension except for TTR solid drive shafts. In front I have adjustable height TTR uprights, set a bit lower than original spec.

/Ulf
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PostPost by: spyzee » Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:01 pm

Change to Yokohamas.
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PostPost by: ftsoft » Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:11 pm

I'm not that familiar with the +2, but it would be very unusual for an Elan to oversteer under almost any conditions. When I was doing solo events in Massachusetts, the organizers would put a lot of 360's in the course to try to keep me from winning and it was pretty challenging because of the way the elan understeers. There were complaints from the folks running Michelins that the sidewalls gave way to quickly. Perhaps that might be the cause of your oversteer?

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PostPost by: ftsoft » Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:17 pm

About the nervous handling. I'm not sure what you mean by that. All I can say is that the Elan is very controllable in a slide. The various racing videos out on the net demonstrate this to a large degree and give a very accurate feel for what it's like. My favorite was always the second apex of the big bend at Lime Rock.

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PostPost by: alan.barker » Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:44 pm

if you lower the front, you will always produce oversteer. You have changed the standard setup :mrgreen:
The standard tyres should be 165 also :!:
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PostPost by: Uboat » Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:49 pm

Frank: I meant that the rear comes suddenly and very, very quick. I need to be some kind of superman to control the slide

Thanks Alan, this sounds like a good explanation. Would I compensate the oversteer if I lowered the rear also?

/Ulf
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PostPost by: alan.barker » Wed Jan 18, 2012 7:09 pm

ulf,
i would suggest that you lower the rear the same. If you stay with the 175 tyres and you can adjust the front shock rate by 1 or 2 clicks. So the front will slide more and not dig in. The original 165 tyres were not low profile :!: so gave more warning and time to react
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:52 pm

alan.barker wrote:if you lower the front, you will always produce oversteer. You have changed the standard setup :mrgreen:
The standard tyres should be 165 also :!:
Alan B


Agree with checking the front ride height & adjusting as req'd. Ulf, I have a similar set-up to you (same tire size & adjustable front ride height). After my rebuild the handling was quite 'nervous' but OK when loaded up in a sweeper. Much better after raising the front to bring the wishbones to level when at rest. The low front ride height seemed to put additional camber into the front, evidenced by uneven tire wear on the inside of the front tires. If I could find the correct profile tires I would consider getting them, but they are difficult to find in NA.
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PostPost by: elansprint71 » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:08 pm

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

The +2 original suspension/tyre set-up was designed 40+ years ago for a road car with 2+2 passengers and their luggage.

If you want it to behave on a track you will have to significantly modify that set-up. There are plenty of books which will tell you the theory; all will suggest lowering the ride-height- thereby the centre of gravity, changing the tyres (not forgetting the pressures), dampers... etc.

Don't forget that we are all used to modern cars now- they do things which could only have been dreamed of back in the 60s.
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PostPost by: alexblack13 » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:35 pm

Amen to that Pete...

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PostPost by: rgh0 » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:44 am

mmmmm A plus 2 that is nervous on the limit!!! Well try driving an Elan.

All Lotus are sensitive cars and take some "feel" to drive. Ask Jeremy Clarkeson who has no feel what so ever :D

Assuming it is the car and not excessive driver inputs or the tyres then go back to check every element of the standard set up. A Plus 2 with everything standard on normal road tyres or even on modern sticky tyres ishould be a very stable and sweet handling car on the limit.

cheers
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PostPost by: bcmc33 » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:09 am

Rohan, as ever, makes some good points. As I see it, the +2 should have a better feel than the Elan due to the longer wheelbase.
I can only speak for an Elan - and in my case, the combination of tyre pressures, front toe-in and damper settings are key. I don't have the facility, but many people have commented that some degree of rear toe-in as being important for stability.
At over 70mph in my Elan the steering goes very light - and I've often described this as being sensitive - but I guess Rohan is correct in suggesting that it is probably driver input.

I would suggest going back to basics. Drop front and rear suspension to the same level, set the dampers at say softest + 3 clicks and tyre pressures and front toe-in as recommended for normal road driving. Make notes of all the numbers and then play the variations - that should make for a nice satisfying track day.
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PostPost by: ecamiel » Thu Jan 19, 2012 1:56 pm

Three things to look at:

Elans can have sudden lift throttle oversteer caused by the angle of the rear A arm producing an upward moment unloading the rear over bumps and on trail braking. At rest, the A arm should be parallel to the ground or slightly higher at the outboard end for track work. Larger sway bar can help and you can compensate for the increased understeer with other adjustments.
Rear (and front ) shocks and mountings. Too stiff is as bad as too soft.
Tire pressures and corner weights

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PostPost by: AussieJohn » Thu Jan 19, 2012 3:57 pm

My +2 was nervous when cornering one way but not the other; I now have adjustable rear wishbones and this looks like the solution. I have it less nervous on the "bad" corner but not yet to my liking; definately affects the handling.
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PostPost by: [email protected] » Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:31 pm

A common mistake is too much pressure in the tires. Check the tread wear pattern to see if you are using the full tread.
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