By Thomas Tran
Testing ... 1, 2, 3!
Lately, I've seen a lot of posts on social media that people are going..... 'testing'. Not practicing, not racing, but actually going out and 'testing'. With more and more racers transitioning into season veterans, the progression is quite natural to go from practice mode and into test mode. With knowledge, skill, and experience on the up, the next stage is to test items that can actually give you the edge on the track. Trying to stay ahead in the 'testing' game takes up a lot of time, effort, and energy. Is it worth it in the end? Only if the day yielded great results and most importantly, lower times on the clock. If not anything, you spent a day at the track driving toy cars. What's not to like?
If you feel like you've got the driving part down and want to futher your game by adding a bit of knowledge from 'test' sessions... here's a few tips I use to keep the testing consistent, productive, and efficient. Now, keep in mind there's no right or wrong way to test, but here's how I normally setup to test so I can get the most out of my time.
1st thing I recommend to do is to have an idea of what to test. That's the most basic fundamental part is figuring out what you're trying to figure out. It could be pistons, oils, shock locations, camber links, roll centers, or even tires etc. Once you have a game plan, it's much easier to tailor a way for to go an accomplish your task.
2nd thing that's going to give you more consistent, productive results is to actually know the track layout. If you don't know the track yet, then spend a couple packs and get your jump timing down, lines, and consistency down. While practicing, try and improve the car's performance and lap times. **This does include finding the right tire combo which is going to be crucial to getting good results. The trick is to get a car that has a good balance between front and rear. That way, you have a great base to start your testing from.
3rd thing is to make sure you have similar track conditions from pack to pack. If the track is swept and moist, try and keep every pack close to the same so your lap times don't vary. This might sound like lot of work because you might have to do a light sweep before runs, but will save you time and produce better results in the end.
After I feel comfortable and confident that I can make a lot of laps and not crash or bobble (too mch), I will always try and keep my variables consistent and only change what I'm trying to 'test'. For instance, let's say your goal is to try a new set of tires that no one has used at your local track. When switching the tires out, make sure you re-check the ride height and set it to whatever you had before. Or if you're changing shims under your ballstuds, you have to adjust the camber to keep the camber angle the same. This goes for when changing shock locations as well as you must keep the droop similar to what you had before you made the change.
I don't usually run full packs when testing. I really only need a few laps to tell if it's helping me on the track or hurting my performance. Then I'll try 1 more pack and then really try and put down some laps. Sooner or later you'll get used to the new change and will be able to push pretty hard. There are also times when you change something, but the lap times didn't change so it's hard to tell if you want to keep it or go back to the old cofiguration. You could always revert to the original and run again. I will always tend to lean towards the direction which ultimately makes my car easier to drive. That way, when in a heated battle or if I've fallen behind, I can push the car and start to squeeze more out of both the car and myself. If the car is edgy and harder to drive, I often find it more difficult to push and feel like I'm just hanging on and usually, that ends up being slower and a lot more work.
Good luck to your test sessions and see you at the track!