Is Geometry & Corner weighting possibly the least talked about & possibly most significant upgrade you can make to your car?
After falling out of love with my car due to poor handling characteristics, finally push came to shove & in a desperate attempt to find a cure I booked my car into Northampton Motorsport for a full geometry & corner weighting set up.
Prior to bringing my car in to NMS it was running on wheels that were oversized & under tyred & had never been properly set up, the car had some terrible handling characteristics especially in the wet, this was characterised by turn in understeer & front end scrubbing followed by quick oversteer at the slightest provocation, loss of grip & sliding, possibly the worst handling characteristics that you could want. After much lambasting from my Caterham pals (you know who you are), who suggested that I sell the Westy & get a 'proper' Seven I decided to go for a more technical approach to my problem, after all the Westfield can't fundamentally be bad, can it?. I changed the wheels to 13" with 205/60 Toyo R888R's & booked the car in for a full Geometry set up at NMS.
The change in wheels & tyres definitely made a significant improvement but the fundamentals of the chassis were not performing, as I arrived at NMS I had a mixture of anticipation & worry, could Chris work some magic or was my Westy really just a second rate Seven doomed to never to have its full potential unlocked.
Chris was really good & allayed any fears I might have, he asked what my expectations were for the car, how I would like it to perform & that all of this could be achieved, Chris went through the process with me & helped me to understand what we would do to the car, as Chris started to work on the car I realised that set up is not a 'Black Art' but something that is a knowledge based process that is honed through years of working on such cars & delivering proven numbers that work. For those who haven't had this work done I think it is difficult for them to understand the significance of good geometry & corner weighting & that it is a far better upgrade than bolting on some shiny carbon bits to make the car look good, with geometry the proof of the pudding is in the eating!
Did 2.5hours of fettling & tweaking by Chris unlock the potential of my car............Hell Yeah!!
The handling of my Westy is absolutely transformed, damping aside (that's an upgrade for another time) the car is far more neutral, turn in is now very positive & progressive with great front end grip inspiring confidence, strangely it has reduced the amount of lock that I need to apply on turn in so there is less understeer. The back end of the car follows the front & is not trying to push the car into oversteer, exiting a corner there is a slight balance shift to the rear, which now digs in & drives the car out of the apex with more grip than I could possibly imagine, all the while the car is communicating exactly what it is doing & precisely responding to my inputs, the car now feels very stable & less nervous giving the driver tonnes of confidence. I will need to drive the car a bit more to get to know the new handling characteristics intimately & find out where the new limits lie, I will have to make some adjustments to my damping settings & tyre pressures to compliment the new set up.
So has the potential of my car been unlocked? Yes & It has far exceeded my expectations.
Was the £175 on Geometry money well spent? Yes, possibly & the best upgrade I could have made.
Do I need to sell my Westy & buy a Caterham, not now thanks to Northampton Motorsport!
I conclusion I can highly recommend the service provided by NMS, £175 seems like a small amount of money to pay to have the handling of your car transformed considering that taking your regular tin top in for tracking costs about £60. Sometimes we drive around problems or aren't even aware what a good handling set up for our particular driving needs should be & may only realise this once the set up has taken place. So rather than spending money on some carbon trinkets, book your car in for a Geo set up & Corner Weighting.