Engineering
Topic

Engineering

The set-up tool that offers a shortcut to success

Devising the best car set-up on any given weekend is vital to successful outcomes in motorsport. Shortcuts are few and far between, but there is a tool that can help…

The set-up tool that offers a shortcut to success

There are an almost infinite number of set-up combinations available to competitors in motorsport that can be tailored for track conditions, driver preferences and car characteristics. The exact same solution is unlikely to be found between two cars from the same one-make series, let alone between factory teams in international GT racing and an amateur racer making their start at grassroots level.

However, the process of establishing base set-ups is surprisingly similar, starting with accurate measurements of the camber, toe, corner weights and rideheight. And depending on how serious the club racer is, they can use the same equipment to set-up their Sports 2000 machine or Mazda MX-5 as a top GT3 customer racing outfit.

This was something considered impossible in past years as cars typically required bespoke set-up equipment – painstakingly pieced together from numerous suppliers – that couldn’t be transferred to other vehicles and had to be sold on when the car changed hands.

But that all changed with the advent of the CP Autosport SetupWizzard, developed by long-time Porsche Motorsport supplier, and licensed builder of FIA-standard halos, CP Tech GmbH. Its solution is widely employed by top teams across the world’s leading sportscar championships, as well as in single-seaters and touring car racing, with an array of adapters allowing the same equipment to be used across multiple cars.

“I have been using the CP Autosport SetupWizzard since 2018 with great satisfaction,” says Renaud Dufour, chief engineer for 2021 DTM title-winning squad Haupt Racing Team. “We are using our four systems in all championships we are involved in. The CP system is a very reliable, accurate, repeatable and especially time-efficient way to set up our cars in a high level of competition.”

Clearly, the insight needed to interpret feedback from the driver and make the correct set-up tweaks will have a bigger final impact on the outcome than the set-up equipment used to effect the changes. But, in an era where single-make series are rife and many other championships incorporate Balance of Performance, teams cannot afford to leave any performance on the table as a result of rushed or inaccurate measurements.

And according to experienced engineer Owen Hayes, formerly Porsche North America’s motorsport director, the SetupWizzard is an important foundation for all the detailed work that comes next and is more convenient for its users than “the hotch-potch of things that you buy from different people”.

The SetupWizzard system is designed to be a turnkey approach to car set-up equipment

The SetupWizzard system is designed to be a turnkey approach to car set-up equipment

Irishman Hayes first came across it while working for Porsche and “straight away knew what I had on my hands”. Now freelance, he owns the rights to SetupWizzard in the US and has seen a rapid rise in its adoption.

“All I had to do was tell people about it and they got it,” says Hayes, who attends events across the country in a supporting capacity. “You need that baseline to understand what you’re working with.

“You can’t have equipment that’s giving you values which are all over the map, you need a proper performance baseline that makes sense and that you can always refer to. Hardly a race weekend comes along where you’ve got perfect performance, and what helps you really move closer to that is proper set-up equipment.”

"You can see the values changing as you’re working on the car, it’s so much quicker. You don’t have to be running to get a camber gauge and a toe string and tripping over the string" Owen Hayes

A reliable baseline is especially important when a car is in the process of being developed.

Read Also:

“We had a car where we noticed the rear axle toe was moving after each session,” Hayes explains. “It turned out there was a weakness and it was flexing, so it helps you identify clear errors to rectify quickly.”

SetupWizzard comes in three package levels – Easy, Basic and Pro – designed to suit the needs and budgets of different customers. The full Pro kit comes with all the bells and whistles inside the black carry box, including scales that come with an inclinometer for measuring camber and a Bluetooth module that sends live readouts of camber and corner weight values to a tablet. That means engineers can spend less time on their hands and knees once the equipment is set up, which Hayes says takes less than five minutes.

Once up on jacks with the tyres removed, set-up wheels and adjoining stands are bolted onto the wheel hubs. The car is then lowered onto platform scales – Easy and Basic kits come with levelling pads that can be attached to scales – which at the Pro level are aligned using a positioning laser. “It’s just like any architect or engineer would do out in the field,” says Hayes.

The SetupWizzard system is being increasingly adopted in GT racing to help teams improve speed and accuracy

The SetupWizzard system is being increasingly adopted in GT racing to help teams improve speed and accuracy

Photo by: Nickolas Wolf

Rideheights are measured by four spring-loaded height gauges that are placed under the car. The set-up wheels are fully adjustable, able to be configured to different track widths as well as heights.

“We have various [camber] shims which go down to 0.5mm resolution,” Hayes says. “You can get the exact same rideheight that you would have operating on hot pressure tyres, or you can adjust the set-up wheels for scrutineering height. The system is extremely tuneable.”

At the secondary Basic level, there is no need for a toe string frame. The package includes toe laser modules that bolt onto the set-up wheels to improve speed and accuracy.

“You can see the values changing as you’re working on the car, it’s so much quicker,” Hayes says. “You don’t have to be running to get a camber gauge and a toe string and tripping over the string.”

Hayes believes the “massive investment per weekend” of any competitor means it is absolutely worthwhile paying for proper set-up equipment.

“It’s such a small investment compared to what you spend over a season,” he says. “You can have the most dominant car in the world, but if it’s not set up properly or you’ve got something completely wrong with the set-up, then you’re going nowhere.”

The grounding of SetupWizzard’s apostle

Hayes has enjoyed an illustrious career as a race engineer working with Mercedes and Porsche

Hayes has enjoyed an illustrious career as a race engineer working with Mercedes and Porsche

Photo by: Nickolas Wolf

Owen Hayes is well-qualified on the subject of car set-ups, having worked on numerous single-seaters and sportscars in a career spanning three decades.

Starting out as a Formula 3 mechanic in 1987 with Eddie Jordan Racing, Hayes met Edward Turner, who later introduced him to AMG in Germany. He spent summers helping out at DTM rounds, during an automotive engineering degree at Bolton University, and made a dream start to his first race engineering role in the 1996 International Touring Car Championship when Jan Magnussen won first time out at Hockenheim. “It was absolutely incredible, a baptism of fire,” he says.

Following the ITC’s demise, Hayes switched to the FIA GT programme for 1997 and ran Bernd Schneider and Mark Webber close to the 1998 GT1 title. Schneider stormed to pole at Le Mans, but engine problems put both CLK-LMs out early.

“That was devastating, one of the ones that I’ll certainly remember,” he says. “I was absolutely committed with every single cell of my body to the whole project as regards to just wanting that win. The amount of preparation we did was nuts.”

"Everything just perfectly meshed in, it was a magical time, punching above our weight at times" Owen Hayes

A two-decade stint at Porsche began in 1999, initially working on the canned LMP2000 project, before heading up the marque’s junior efforts in Carrera Cup.

He was later assigned to engineer Penske-run RS Spyders in the American Le Mans Series for golden boys Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard, based out of Penske’s Mooresville campus. They won the LMP2 title in 2007 and in 2008, with an outright victory at the Sebring 12 Hours.

“Everything just perfectly meshed in, it was a magical time, punching above our weight at times,” he says. “We didn’t even realise how good it was until the project came to an end.”

Hayes then assumed the role of Porsche Motorsport North America’s racing director, overseeing the management of customer teams, drivers and the factory IMSA SportsCar Championship programme until going freelance in 2019.

Hayes is now freelance and oversees customers using the SetupWizzard equipment

Hayes is now freelance and oversees customers using the SetupWizzard equipment

Photo by: Nickolas Wolf

shares
comments
Top GT squad ASP working on Le Mans GT3 entry for 2024
Previous article

Top GT squad ASP working on Le Mans GT3 entry for 2024

Next article

Vanthoor, Weerts join BMW as 2023 works drivers

Vanthoor, Weerts join BMW as 2023 works drivers
The F1 technology behind Mercedes’ Nordschleife record hypercar  Plus

The F1 technology behind Mercedes’ Nordschleife record hypercar 

It’s taken over half a decade of development but now the Mercedes-AMG One is here – boasting 1048bhp from a Formula 1-based hybrid powertrain and smashing the Nurburgring Nordschleife lap record for a production car with Maro Engel at the wheel last month. ROBERT HOLMES wonders if it can now claim to be the ultimate hypercar...

GT
Nov 30, 2022
How to get the best out of amateur racers Plus

How to get the best out of amateur racers

Pro-Am GT racing is booming. But how should drivers approach working with an amateur? Autosport sought out a panel of experts to explain the pitfalls amateur drivers should avoid and how professionals can help them to achieve their goals

GT
Apr 3, 2022
The remarkable career of a 'classy' champion who rejected politics Plus

The remarkable career of a 'classy' champion who rejected politics

Over two decades as a factory driver with Audi and BMW, Martin Tomczyk earned the respect of team-mates and rivals as a hard but fair racer. After calling time on his racing career, the 2011 DTM champion sat down with Autosport to look back

GT
Mar 5, 2022
The ex-IndyCar racer in "uncharted territory" of British GT team ownership Plus

The ex-IndyCar racer in "uncharted territory" of British GT team ownership

This weekend’s British GT finale will be a tense title showdown for some but, for those not in the championship fight, it’s a chance to end a challenging year on a high. In the latter camp is Paddock Motorsport's team owner Martin Plowman, whose 2021 season has been a rollercoaster ride of non-stop learning

National
Oct 15, 2021
The unpopular BMW stalwart built for the big occasion Plus

The unpopular BMW stalwart built for the big occasion

It has won most of the big prizes in endurance racing across its six years in service, but the BMW M6 GT3's key weaknesses meant only a devoted few teams persisted with running it. As it prepares to bow out at season's end, the teams and drivers involved in its story share the secrets of an unpopular winner

GT
Oct 7, 2021
The unwanted GT car that changed sportscar racing forever Plus

The unwanted GT car that changed sportscar racing forever

Had FIA GT boss Stephane Ratel had his way, the Maserati MC12 would never have been allowed to set foot in his series. It duly proved the class of the field that most had expected, but the Balance of Performance that its superiority spawned would keep GT1 battles tight and bring long-term benefits that sportscar racing enjoys today

GT
Sep 21, 2021
Why Britain's greatest sportscar was eclipsed on the world stage Plus

Why Britain's greatest sportscar was eclipsed on the world stage

The E-Type may be the most famous of all road-going Jaguars, but that didn't always translate into success on the track. After winning on its competition debut in 1961, motorsport success seemed an inevitability, but things didn’t turn out to be quite that straightforward

GT
Aug 6, 2021
Why the Jaguar E-type remains special at 60 Plus

Why the Jaguar E-type remains special at 60

It’s 60 years since the Jaguar E-type arrived and caused a sensation. As our resident racer Ben Anderson discovered when he got behind the wheel of two special racing versions at Brands Hatch, the thrill of driving them hasn't diminished over time

GT
Jul 31, 2021