Sometimes it’s good to be stubborn. I have always had a 4mm chassis on THECar. About 3 years ago I tested a 3mm chassis, and it was in fact better. But I stuck with the 4mm chassis. The few friends around me who still believed in me, finally concluded that I was a complete idiot. But I have a method to my madness. You see I was convinced that a thinner chassis won’t make a better car, it will simply disguise the car’s issues and make it even harder to identify and solve them. How was I so sure? Could I prove this? No, not exactly, it was more of a hunch. However, I did take one magic Japanese car, and basically disprove every one of the reasons people always give for it being good. One thing was the chassis. I bolted on braces and made that chassis so stiff there was no flex anywhere. The car was still awesome. Anyway, I didn’t care what everyone else was saying, I was sticking to the 4mm chassis, because all my testing had been done on it, and I know I needed to make my car good with it first.
The few friends around me who still believed in me, finally concluded that I was a complete idiot.
Fast forward 3 years, and it turns out I was right. Yessss! I knew it. So finally my car was working fantastically well, and it was time to bust out the 3mm chassis. What happened? It was better again, but a different kind of better. Basically the lap times started off the same, but it was easier to drive. It felt safer and smoother to drive. If you go offline, the traction difference is less, you can drive on power in the dust or half on dust half on line, and maintain your line in the corners, it won’t spin out as easy. If you do spin out it happens more gradually and you can save it, and if you are spinning out and hit traction, it will snap back slower and less violently. It was also better in long corners, specially at the end of them, if they tightened up, it was easier to maintain your line and speed. My favourite thing though, was how much better it landed and jumped again after landing. The triple triple at dialed in required 78% less skill, you just landed, gassed it, and it jumped the second triple, and you just gassed it and turned onto the straight. Before you had to be precise, now just go for it, no big deal. Sounds great right?
But here’s the thing, and the reason for why I think I was right to stick with the 4mm. With the 3mm chassis it is easier to THINK that you are going fast when you are not. It feels good so you start pushing more but you end up going slower, even though it feels good. The 4mm chassis will let you know when you are messing up, but the 3mm will not. The 3mm chassis disguises bad driving habits, or bad car characteristics, making it hard to identify the problem. I will try and explain:
Imagine that you have a certain “handling limit” for turning the perfect lap times. By “handling limit” I mean the speed you can carry into corners, your corner speed, how much throttle you can use, how fast you can accelerate out of corners. I think that both chassis’ are capable of the same lap times. What the 4mm one gives up in traction and smoothness, it gains in responsiveness. If you go over the “handling limit” you will go slower, you will be scrubbing speed, loosing time. With the 4mm chassis you will immediately notice going over the limit, as it will bite you, the car will visibly do something wrong. There is hardly any buffer, no safety zone, it’s on the limit to gone, just like that. With the 3mm chassis there is a buffer zone, on the limit, over the limit, but still completely in control, to eventually gone out of control. That buffer means you can be driving in control, it feels good, but you are driving over the “handling limit”, and you are going slowly. This same thing applies to certain designs, or a safe but slow setup. The car still feels good, but it’s not right.
At this point in time, taking into consideration everything I have learned, I would say the 3mm chassis is the way to go in every situation, except if you are struggling on a high speed, very high bite track with traction rolling and instability. You have to learn to drive it right, and not be fooled by it’s comfort. You have to maintain your speed to reach good lap times. But when you do, it will be more forgiving, you will make less mistakes, and eventually you will start turning faster lap times due to finding your rhythm and confidence. So yes, we are developing a 3mm chassis, and THE100 will be testing it in a week or two.