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Jim's Setup Tips

 

There has been other guides out there, some very nice and informative. But they just didn't work for me. Many of them recommend a "stiff" or "hard" suspension to gain higher speeds. Having too hard of a suspension caused my car to slide (this is true in real life too). So I took a slightly different approach.

NOTE: I should mention that I first started by playing in "Career mode" using the original Dodge Viper with 450 HP [viper.car]. I then moved onto the 705 HP Viper GTS-R released by MGI [vipergt.car] and finally the Xmas Viper GTS-R with 769 HP altered by MADMAX [also vipergt.car] when it was released. Once I had the Viper GTS-R handling pretty decent I tried using it's setups as a starting point for most of the cars I've used so far. I should also mention that I also used Ashes48's original RT/10 and created setups for that car. Which is different from my Xmas setups, so now I have 2 different handling setups saved a side as a starting point for use with other cars.

On all the tracks I originally started off with the "Default" setup and adjusted from there to create my own setups (it wasn't easy either). I combined some of the settings that worked with the Viper while running career mode and experimented with all the settings until the car felt comfortable for me to drive. I kept in mind what each suspension parts purpose was and adjusted accordingly.

Here's how I go about adjusting my setups:

I start with the gears, well after I make a quick adjustment to my wheel-lock for easier steering with my controller. Finding my best top speed for the longest straightaway on the track. The RPM's just reaching 5800 - 6000 (just short of bouncing the tach needle). I then adjust all the gears to have a 20-30 mph difference between them. It's important to keep the RPM's high and in the range of 5200-5800. This is based upon the Viper, some add-on cars have higher or lower rev limits so adjust accordingly. Ok some of you are asking, "Why not adjust the suspension first? This way I can get around the track and then work on going faster!" Simple, a setup that works at say, 100 mph usually won't work at 200 mph.

I then spend some time on tuning the suspension. Making just one adjustment at a time. It's important to adjust just one thing at a time, or else you won't know what's working and what's not. It's also a good way to learn how each part's setting effects the handling of your car. Also check the chart below as it explains different settings and the effects. You sure don't want to guess each time you want to adjust a setup for a different car. Wouldn't it be easier to just make a quick adjustment to say, your rear shocks or anti-roll bar because you learned what to adjust in order to make the car handle better coming out of the turns? Try playing around with one suspension part at a time. Take the car out on the track and feel (well, see) how it has changed.
Tip: Change just one setting; be it springs, bump, anti-roll, but only the front or rear at a time by say 10 or 20 and go for a test drive. Is it worse or better?

If I need to start a setup from scratch, I usually start with:

That's my starting point if I have to start a setup from scratch and the Default setup doesn't help. Then lots of test driving and adjusting (tweaking). Just remember, it is very important that you adjust just one thing at a time and then go for a test drive. Of course I'll try starting with some of my saved setups first. Who knows, I might get lucky !

I should mention that I drive with:

Ok, so you're fustrated because I didn't post a decent setup (or mine) and you have to work on it yourself. And some of you are probably wondering, "What do I adjust first? I turned some laps and the car just flies off the road in the turns. I started with the default setup and adjusted the gearing and height, but now what?"( see example below ) Well, I personally tried other peoples setups only to find I couldn't get the car around the track, let alone be competitive with it. Also, I have 2 computers that run Viper Racing and I have to use different setups on each one myself. Strange eh? Well, the computers are different (CPU, graphics card, version of DirectX, controller, etc...) so there is more to setups than just driving style. So what's the sense of handing out setups? I think part of the fun is to learn how to adjust your own setups. If you learn on one car then you can take that knowledge and work on another car. Stay driving and adjusting just one car until you feel comfortable working in the garage and become competitive with that car. Keep in mind that adjusting one setting too far either way will have an adverse effect in your cars handling. If adjusting one setting helped, try adjusting something else to see if it gets even better. The chart below should help in figuring out what to adjust.

 

--- Helpful Tip from Jim ---

Keep a notebook handy so you can have a record of adjustments that helped. Once you get a setup that you are comfortable with, write it down. Make a note of what car and for what track. Also, a few tracks need the setup slightly adjusted again to run in reverse (usually just gears and/or shocks). Keep in mind, you can only save eight setups per track. There's nothing worse than spending hours, days, weeks or years tweaking a setup, only to save it with a bad adjustment or worse, a computer crash. So make a backup!

 

 

Use this quick reference guide to see how each adjustment effects the handling of your car.

Action - Increase = higher numbers / Decrease = lower numbers

Action Effect on balance Other effects
Bump
Increase front Increased understeer in bumpy corners Decreased grip on bumpy surfaces. Helps prevent your car from bottoming out.
Increase rear Increased oversteer in bumpy corners Decreased grip on bumpy surfaces. Helps prevent your car from bottoming out.
Increase front & rear symmetrically None Decreased grip on bumpy surfaces. Helps prevent your car from bottoming out. Unpredictable & nervous handling.
Decrease front Increased oversteer in bumpy corners Increased grip on bumpy surfaces.
Decrease rear Increased understeer in bumpy corners Increased grip on bumpy surfaces.
Decrease front & rear symmetrically None Increased grip on bumpy surfaces.
Rebound
Increase front Increased understeer during entry/exit to corners. Quicker grip after bumps; more responsive handling.
Increase rear Increased oversteer during entry/exit to corners. Quicker grip after bumps; more responsive handling.
Increase front & rear symmetrically None Quicker grip after bumps; more responsive handling.
Decrease front Increased oversteer during entry/exit to corners. Slower grip after bumps; less responsive handling.
Decrease rear Increased understeer during entry/exit to corners. Slower grip after bumps; less responsive handling.
Decrease front & rear symmetrically None Slower grip after bumps; less responsive handling.
Springs
Increase front Increased understeer in corners Decreased grip in corners; decreased grip on bumpy surfaces; more responsive handling.
Increase rear Increased oversteer in corners Decreased grip in corners; decreased grip on bumpy surfaces; more responsive handling.
Increase front & rear symmetrically None Decreased grip in corners; decreased grip on bumpy surfaces; more responsive handling.
Decrease front Increased oversteer in corners Increased grip in corners; increased grip on bumpy surfaces; less responsive handling.
Decrease rear Increased understeer in corners Increased grip in corners; increased grip on bumpy surfaces; less responsive handling.
Decrease front & rear symmetrically None Increased grip in corners; increased grip on bumpy surfaces; less responsive handling.
Anti-roll bars
Increase front Increased understeer in corners. Decreased grip on bumpy surfaces; more responsive handling.
Increase rear Increased oversteer in corners. Decreased grip on bumpy surfaces; decreased grip when exiting corners; more responsive handling.
Increase front & rear symmetrically None Decreased grip on bumpy surfaces; decreased grip when exiting corners; more responsive handling.
Decrease front Increased oversteer in corners. Increased grip on bumpy surfaces; less responsive handling.
Decrease rear Increased understeer in corners. Increased grip on bumpy surfaces; increased grip when exiting corners; less responsive handling.
Decrease front & rear symmetrically None Increased grip on bumpy surfaces; increased grip when exiting corners; less responsive handling.
Toe-in
Increase front
(+positive numbers)
None Improved turn-in; Decreased straight-line speed.
Decrease front
(-negative numbers)
None Decreased turn-in; Decreased straight-line speed.
Increase rear
(+positive numbers)
None Decreased stability; Decreased straight-line speed.
Decrease rear
(-negative numbers)
None Improved stability; Decreased straight-line speed.
Camber
Increase front
(-negative numbers)
None Increased grip in corners
Decrease front
(+positive numbers)
None Decreased grip in corners
Increase rear
(-negative numbers)
None Increased grip in corners
Decrease rear
(+positive numbers)
None Decreased grip in corners
Height
Increase front Increased understeer in fast corners. Car may bottom out less often.
Increase rear Increased oversteer in fast corners. Car may bottom out less often; adds more downforce to rear of car.
Increase front & rear symmetrically None Car may bottom out less often.
Decrease front Increased oversteer in fast corners. Car may bottom out more often.
Decrease rear Increased understeer in fast corners. Car may bottom out more often; adds less downforce to rear of car.
Decrease front & rear symmetrically None Car may bottom out more often.
Brake bias
Adjust to front Increased understeer under braking Front wheels can lock up, increasing brake distances.
Adjust to rear Increased oversteer under braking Rear wheels can lock up, increasing brake distances.
Wheel lock
Increase Increased understeer in corners Slower steering response. Better for wide turns.
Decrease Increased oversteer in corners Quicker steering response. Better for tight turns.
Gearing
Lengthen gears None Increased potential maximum speed; decreased acceleration.
Shorten gears None Decreased potential maximum speed; decreased acceleration.
Aero - Spoilers
Increase front Increased oversteer in corners Increased front grip in corners; reduced straight-line speed.
Decrease front Increased understeer in corners Decreased front grip in corners; increased straight-line speed.
Increase rear Increased understeer in corners Increased rear grip in corners; reduced staight-line speed.
Decrease rear Increased oversteer in corners Decreased rear grip in corners; increased straight-line speed.

 

Ok, some people have contacted me or mentioned to me during chat sessions or races that they have no clue how to figure out what the above chart means to them and what to adjust. So lets take one of their problems as an example as to how to figure this mess out. Have your graphics setting set high enough so that you can see your skid marks and tire smoke.

Example:
"Jim, when I start to turn the corner my front just keeps sliding straight ahead. I'm not driving too fast as everyone else just pulls away from me, my front tires just don't seem to be gripping. What do I do?"

My Answer: Give up racing and play checkers! NO NO just joking!

Ok, let's look at the chart. His car has understeer. So he will need to find everything that relates to 'adding oversteer'.
"Dang Jim there's a lot dealing with increasing oversteer, 14 at a quick glance."
Hey, did I say it was going to be easy? Ok, lets go at this one step at a time. Does it only happen when you hit your brakes or all turns?
"All turns Jim."
So forget the brake bias for now. Raise your front spoiler setting to 100, still have understeer?
"Yes Jim and now I'm slower on the straights too."
You have been paying attention to your skidmarks haven't you? Are they (from the front tires) solid lines or are they bouncing leaving choppy marks on the track?
"They're choppy Jim."
Let's start with your front bump setting. Lower it until you see sparks whenever you drive over bumps in the road (or you might even sustain damage to your car), then bring it up just a little until the sparks are gone (or no more damage). The next thing I would adjust is the front rebound. I always have a higher rebound setting than my bump. But going to high will cause understeer too. So adjusting rebound might be a little tricky and time consuming. Just get it close for now if you can tell a difference with adjustments. Your skidmarks should smooth out when your rebound is close to the correct setting.
"I did all that Jim, but I'm still sliding and now leaving solid line skidmarks from both front tires."
Lower your front springs if they are set high (around 85 or so) and try something around 70.
"Better but still not right Jim."
Wheel-lock, anti-roll, camber, toe-in, height (yes height can make a difference too). See why adjusting one thing at a time is important? Once you made all the necessary adjustments to the front suspension, work on the rear (same steps, one at a time but raising instead of lowering). When you finally get it right and your going through the turns without sliding off the track, try lowering your spoiler(s) again to increase your straightline speed. OOP'S sliding again! Back to adjusting the suspension again or raising the front spoiler setting.
Tip
: With my final setup I usually have a solid skidmark from my inside tire, none usually from my outside tire (that's the one doing most of the gripping in the turns so I don't want it sliding and leaving skidmarks).

Maybe the above steps are the hard way, long way or even the wrong way of working on setups, but it's the only way that I know how to do it. I work on my setups so that I can try to drive consistant laptimes and handle the car, not just the fastest I can get my car to go. Hey, I never said I was fast !!

Remember, it is just as important to learn the tracks as it is to learn the adjustments to your car. All the adjustments in the world won't help you get around the track and stay off the wall if you don't learn your braking point, turn-in point, when and where to breathe the throttle, your best driving line, etc.
So if you haven't already, take a look at the racing terms they are important too.

 

Ok so I'll give out a setup! For those who have been looking for it, here is MADMAX's (pdf) setups for the XMAS Viper! I am making MADMAX's setup available because at one time it was widely available and popular.
Thanks MAX!

I hope you might find something here of interest and helpful.
Remember the most important thing...
Practice, practice, practice!!!

 

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