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Exocet Setup and Autocross Progress

KC region SCCA kicked off their season with a Test & Tune and their first event over the weekend. After dipping the Exocet’s toes into those waters a few times last year I was eager to start regularly putting it to use. However, I had a few things to take care of first...

I traveled once again to my favorite indie shop for some corner balancing and alignment work. The original owner’s setup choices along with my entirely-too-conservative baseline alignment just weren’t cutting it when I had tested the Exocet previously. It was prone to plowing into understeer shortly after turn-in and more susceptible to power oversteer than any car dispensing 130 HP through an LSD and 200TW 245s should ever be, regardless of weight.

First up was getting the ride height set correctly. It was simply too low, causing the lower control arms to dip inward, well below parallel. By most accounts, this is a bad thing when it comes to things like camber curves and roll centers. Additionally, the existing setup had some rake dialed in when it should instead be having a little *reverse* rake. This later point is to help account for the Exocet having slightly different suspension mounting heights and a more front-biased weight distribution.

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Speaking of weight, the corner balancing was my first chance to get real numbers for my car rather than using other builds to guess. The result? 1675 lbs with a full tank of gas and no driver. No surprises here, but good to know all the same. With me in the driver’s seat, front/rear weight balance sits around 54/46 and cross weights (FL+RR vs. FR+RL) were able to reach 51/49. Those numbers were... um... a whole lot less good than that to begin with.

Alignment-wise, the handling behavior and tire wear I was seeing during my previous tests indicated that more camber was needed. Unfortunately the increased ride heights meant that I could only get some at the rear (-1.5 to -2) and was stuck with what I had previously up front (-1.5). I already have some extended ball joints on the way to get that fixed.

The fruits of those labors quickly became apparent at the Test & Tune. The Exocet was much more well-behaved overall, but the rear was still a bit twitchy. I had a growing suspicion that the large aftermarket rear sway bar was overkill for this chassis and a significant contributor towards those oversteer woes, so I simply disconnected it near the end of the day and things immediately got better. Accelerating out of turns was was no longer an ordeal, so my confidence and consistency skyrocketed.

Now on to the event. Pardon the wind noise, as I forgot to stuff my makeshift windsock into the camera case.

Compared to the Test & Tune, the only noteworthy difference in course layout was the slalom losing its last cone and changing its entrance side, thus shortening the overall time by about 0.5 to 1 second. Even with cold tires, I was able to pick up exactly where I left off at the T&T on my first run and then proceeded to shave off a few more tenths throughout the day.

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I feel like I’m still missing some cornering bite from the lack of front camber and I’m not entirely comfortable with the non-ABS brakes yet (in case you were wondering what that puff of smoke was at 0:15), but I’m really happy with the progress so far. There’s no way in hell I’ll get this thing optimized for meaningful PAX standings anytime soon (see: street tires, too much weight, not enough engine, no aero), but in terms of raw time, unofficial results show me somewhere around 9th out of 110+ drivers. Good enough for now, I think.

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