Table of Contents
Background .............................................................................................................. 3
Installation ............................................................................................................... 5
How to Use ............................................................................................................... 6
Step 1: Enter Track and Car Data ...................................................................................6
Step 2: Run initial laps...................................................................................................6
Step 3: Enter Initial Data ...............................................................................................6
Step 4: Rough-in ...........................................................................................................9
Step 5 – AntiRoll Bar ................................................................................................... 14
Step 6 – Corner Entry and Exit ..................................................................................... 14
Step 7 – Braking ......................................................................................................... 15
Step 8 – Aerodynamics ................................................................................................ 15
Step 9 – Gearing (still in development so it may not stay the same…) ............................ 15
Example Setup ....................................................................................................... 18
As an engineer by schooling, I like to understand cause and effect. I also like repeatable
processes… if A, then B, and so on.
Setting up a race car is a very interesting and complicated process. There are many
variables to work with, not to mention driving style, and track differences. This presents a
very unique problem… how do you best tune your race car in the least amount of steps to
provide you a very manageable and workable car…
Therefore, I decided to try to create a tool to help me setup my car quickly and effectively.
This is based on many hours of testing and trial and error.
- Is it perfect? No.
- Will it create a stable, drivable setup? Absolutely.
- Will it be better than anything an expert or skilled setup person can create? No.
- Will it allow any driver of any skill to create a setup easily? Yes.
As Chief Admin of Virtual Online Racers, I hear several comments repeatedly:
If I had a better setup, I’d be faster
I have no idea how to setup my car, or it doesn’t do what I expect
I don’t know how to get started with setting up my car
The track sucks (when really it’s their setup that sucks!)
So my Setup Engineer is designed to help any driver of any skill level get more out of their
car. Currently, the engineer is designed to work with the ILMS Série Internationale Du Mans
mod for rFactor. However, with a little bit of work, it could be expanded to be used by most
Will this help drivers that intuitively create a fast setup? Nope… not at all. How about aliens
that are fast in anything? Probably Not… The Engineer is designed for the driver that wants
to learn more about how to setup his car, and is willing to work at it. It requires repeated
testing, and some trial and error. It follows a strict process to create the setup. If you are a
driver that can turn some laps, make a few adjustments, and create a good setup… this
probably will not help. For the rest of us… I hope this helps!
Finally, I am always looking for feedback and ways to improve this tool. I have had several
people testing it, and they have all commented that it helped their laptimes and consistency.
However, if a driver sees an issue, I’d like to know about it. I can’t guarantee I will be able to
fix it… but I’m always striving to make it better.
When I started this project, it was just for me. Therefore, I wasn’t too worried about it’s
limitations, I could make it fit what I needed. Those limitations have carried over… I am
constantly improving this, but there is no guarantee I will fix any of these issues.
The engineer routinely requires data from Motec. If you don’t have motec, you’ll
need to install it and use it to get the most out of it.
When I started using rFactor, it was apparent to me that it was designed using the
metric system. Therefore, I learned to use metric for all my measurements (except
for my speed). The engineer tool is designed using metric. I have converted it to
work with imperial also, but since I don’t use Imperial measurements I can’t validate
there are no mistakes.
Damper values are generic (1-25 for example), not the actual value (300 Nm)
It requires you to follow it pretty much in a linear fashion. If you try to short cut the
setup, you will have problems and it will give you bad recommendations.
I am not finished. Gearing, third springs, and others, are still being worked on.
1. Install motec i2 Pro 1.0
2. Install rFactor Motec plugin (download at rFactorCentral)
3. Copy the Motec - Setup Engineer Project (folder) to your motec projects folder.
4. First time you open motec, you will need to select this project folder
1. Copy the Engineer tool to any folder you wish.
2. I recommend you rename it for each new car/track combination (keeping the
How to Use
The spreadsheet (SUE = SetUp Engineer) has a “how-to-use” tab that should step you
through the general process. As you complete a step, it will turn green (good). This
summary will attempt to fill in any gaps…
Some general rules:
- yellow fields are for operator entry.
- green fields are for engineer feedback.
- text in purple are notes for me as I continue to develop it.
- text in red italics are important since you are likely missing some data
Step 1: Enter Track and Car Data
On the Track and Car data tab, enter the car you are driving, and the track length (in KM).
The car information is used for all the car specific information throughout the engineer, and
the track length is used to calculate test stint lengths and number of laps to average.
I use the LiveView webpage to see the length to enter, although I could use the track’s GDB
file. They usually don’t match but are pretty close.
Step 2: Run initial laps.
Pick a default setup that you like and run laps until you know the track. If you don’t know the
track and start making setup changes – you will likely screw up your car. I will usually run 1
or 2 stints before I even consider changing anything.
Once I’m comfortable with the track, I then move on to step 3.
Step 3: Enter Initial Data
Once you are comfortable with the track, we can start gathering data for SUE. I don’t like to
use my fastest lap only as a determination if my adjustment improved my car. Instead, I like
to average my fast laps… usually 2, or 3 (depending on what the top of the Test Data tab
It’s important to record your lap information on the Test Data Tab (every session should be
The first half of the data is easy – record your fast lap, number of laps run, and your average
fast laps. Note if you drive more than the recommended number of test laps – that’s OK –
record all the data – but only use the laptimes from the first required number of laps (in this
case, use only the first 7 laps). If you use all of your laps, times won’t be right because you
have a lighter car due to fuel burnt off.
The second half of information is important for your strategy, and can easily get this data
from motec. The example below shows the required data circled in orange, from the 2 nd tab
For tire wear, enter the lowest final value – this determines your worst case tire wear. For
top speed, just look for your top speed value (don’t enter a top speed if you were in
someone’s draft – it will make your data look wrong). For your fuel used, simply enter an
equation of =start fuel – finish fuel. (so for this example, I would enter: =43.21-24.00)
I then move on to the “Getting Started” tab in SUE, and enter the key information.
Enter the data appropriately. It’s up to you how to answer these based on your feel – there is
no right or wrong. However, the engineer will change its recommendations based on how
you answer these questions.
One important field is the Existing or Decent Setup field. If you have a reasonable good and
comfortable base setup – I recommend you use it, and work from there. Over the course of
several races, your setup will evolve to one that fits you – making your setup work much
easier as you go along. However, if your base setup is horrible, enter No and you will be
asked to enter information in the bottom section:
Based on your answers in the yellow section, it will make some initial recommendations to
get you started on a new base setup. Don’t expect these recommendations to be perfect (or
even close) – there is very little data to work with. These are just some initial adjustments to
try to help you get started quickly. Remember, this is assuming the default setup is no good!
If your base setup is OK – then you should answer the Existing or Decent Setup question as
Also on this page is a Pedal verification. Prior to each race, I think it’s good to ensure you
are getting 100% travel from your pedals. To verify your pedals, you will need to use Motec.
Open the Motec Setup Engineer project, and open your data from your current test stint.
Navigate to the 8th tab (Pedals). Scan your data and verify both pedals are going from 0 to
Step 4: Rough-in
If on the Getting Started page, I answered I had an existing setup, I will immediately move to
the rough-in. If I answered No, I will make the recommended adjustments, and run another
test or two – then move on to the rough-in tab.
There are a couple key parts to the rough-in tab. Section 1 (top) is general items like
temperature, brakes, gearing, etc. Remember – these measurements are all in metric!
To check the engine temperature, I simply look at the Lap Report tab, looking for the highest
temperature on the page (note it will automatically highlight for you. Enter this temperature
into the engineer and it will tell you if you can open or close your radiator. It will err on the
side of caution… running the engine slightly cool to ensure it lasts for the full race.
For Brake Temperature, I look at the Brakes tab in the motec project to get my data. Go to
your fast lap and record the data.
The Engineer will then make recommendations based on these temps. It will try to balance
the temperatures by adjusting the duct and the thickness. It’s OK if it peaks above the
brakes maximum recommended temperature as long as it’s brief.
For Ride Height, I’m looking for any major spikes in either chart. We can see in this example
that I might have a minor issue where the circle is. I can hit the T button (in motec) to bring
up a track map and see where that location is and pay attention there. If I am having control
issues there, I may need to raise the height some (or increase springs, or bump stop, etc)
Steering Lock is a matter of preference. If you are turning the wheel more than you like and
it still doesn’t make the sharpest corner, then you need to increase the wheel lock. If the car
is too sensitive to steering adjustment, then lower it. Personally, I like to have it as low as
possible while giving me the ability to make the sharpest corners. Once I have this set, I
rarely ever have to adjust it. If the number is too high, the car becomes very sensitive to
minor steering adjustments.
As for gearing, I start out using the default gears. If 6th is too short, I increase the final gear;
and vice versa. Later, I will tweak individual gears, but for now, this is usually sufficient.
Next, I move on to adjusting tire pressures and cambers.
There are several philosophies about how to best optimize the variables. I am optimizing
them over the course of a full lap – not at their peak loading. For example, at the carousel at
Road America, the left tires take a lot of abuse. You could optimize your tires for that
location – but I don’t because I want the best average grip all the way around the track.
To fill in this chart, take your fastest lap (make sure tires are warm, so at least your 3 rd or so
lap), and look at the Tire Temp Summary chart in Motec. Simply select the right compound,
and then fill in your temperatures from Motec (go to 1 decimal place (as defined in Motec)).
The engineer will tell you what to do… increase/decrease pressures, increase/decrease
camber, adjust weight bias, change compounds, etc. It usually only takes 1-2 tries for the
engineer to zoom in on your right settings. However, as you make other adjustments to your
suspension or downforce – it will change your settings – so I regularly use this section to
ensure my tires are working at their best.
Also, you should keep current data in here as you work on your ARB and suspension
settings. The Engineer uses the tire temperatures to help determine the optimum settings,
and if you skip this step – it’s going to recommend values that are incorrect. Make sure you
update this information for each test.
Step 5 – AntiRoll Bar
Next I like to adjust my middle-corner feel. My goal is to raise the ARB (Anti-roll bar) as high
as comfortable – this makes the car more responsive to steering input. Increasing ARB
usually increases tire temperatures, so unless your tires are too warm already, it will usually
recommend you add more ARB.
To adjust ARB, find the longest corners that you have pretty consistent speed throughout (it
doesn’t require significant speed adjustment (adjusting your speed mid-corner will change
the feel)) and determine how the car feels in that section (understeer, oversteer, neutral,
skating). Understeer means you turn the steering wheel but the car wants to go straight.
Oversteer means the back end wants to spin around on you. Neutral feels right – the car
does what you expect. Skating means both the front and rear slide too much – the car is a
real handful to control.
Enter your opinion of how the car feels and your current ARB settings. And make sure you
enter your tire temperatures in the Rough-In section (previous tab)! The engineer uses a
combination of your tire temperatures and your feel to determine how to adjust your ARB.
At Interlagos, I would recommend you use a couple corners to decide how you think the car
feels – Descida De Logo and Ferradura. Mergulho might be a good option too but I suspect
you will be accelerating hard at the exit and that will change your assessment of the feel.
Drive a full test stint (at Interlago – 7 laps). Then complete the Test Data tab, the Rough In
Tab, and the ARB tab. Note your opinion of the car feel, and your current Front and Rear
When you finish your test stint – BUT BEFORE you record your times in the Test Data tab –
come back to this tab and determine how to complete the assessment. If your average lap
time is faster than the circled time, select Improved. If it’s slower than your previous setup,
enter Worse. If it’s faster than your previous time, but slower than the goal time – enter
Same. It will then tell you what to do.
Step 6 – Corner Entry and Exit
Now it’s time to roughly adjust how the car handles as you enter and exit corners.
Complete the tab with your assessment of how the car feels and the track corner details.
Finally, enter your existing setup (remember – it’s metric; and the dampers are relative, not
actual!) and it will recommend some changes.
Step 7 – Braking
Follow the instructions on the Braking tab to ensure your brake bias and Engine braking are
Step 8 – Aerodynamics
My strategy with Aerodynamics is to setup the car with as little downforce as needed and
focus on my mechanical grip. Once I feel like I’ve squeezed as much out of the car’s basic
grip, I then turn my attention to adding downforce.
In general, it’s better to have more downforce than less. You spend more time in corners
than on the straights, and the increased downforce makes it easier to pass other cars. There
are rare exceptions to this rule (LeMans, Monza) where you are on full throttle for so long
that the increased downforce really hurts you.
Pick your strategy, and then tell SUE how your car feels in high-speed corners. Follow it’s
recommendation and give it a test run.
Step 9 – Gearing (still in development so it may not stay the same…)
After aerodynamics are finalized, gearing will need to be adjusted. The goal is to use the
engine to it’s fullest capability. In some cases, this can yield very big improvements, and in
some cases it won’t make much difference.
To setup gearing, we will first verify our Rev Limiter is appropriate. Enter the Rev Limiter
information (from rFactor), and the max RPM seen on track (from Motec).
Then we will analyze our gearing on the track. Go to the Track Map in Motec and determine
your top 3 corners. Your top corners are identified by “the corners leading onto the longest
straights”. This is where the biggest improvements can be made.
Green lines represent greater than 85% throttle (hard acceleration areas). Blue areas are
partial throttle, and gray is no throttle.
In the example below, I identify turn 12, then 2 and then 4 as my priority corners. The
slowest spots are identified with the blue down arrow, and fastest is red up arrow. The
number on top (ie for turn 12, slowest speed, 65.9) is speed, and number below it is RPM
I then enter this information into SUE.
Next, I look at the Gearing chart in Motec to find the minimum gear used, its speed, and its
RPM. I look for the lowest RPM used (lower left corner of the graph). To get it’s data, I click
on it and then look in the right table for it’s values.
I then enter it in the table on the gearing page in SUE
I will use the Aston Martin at Interlagos for walking through the process I use for building a
Track Map of Interlagos
I then look at the top of the Test Data tab to see how many laps I’m going to use for my
testing. In this case, I use the best 3 of 7 laps.
Since I’m new to the Aston Martin, I need to run a couple test stints to get the feel of the car
and the track. I know this track, but it’s a slightly different version. I find that after about 10
laps, I’m pretty comfortable with the track and the car.
I then do my first real test stint. At Interlagos, it recommends I record the best 3 of 7 laps.
So for example, at Interlagos, for my first stint, my best 3 laps were 1:29.317, 1:29.507,
1:29.576 which gives me a 1:29.467. I save my setups by this time (Aston 129467) so it’s
easy to revert to my previous best setup. If I make changes to a setup, I label it WIP until I
like it (Aston 129467 WIP). This tells me it’s based on the 129467 setup, with some
changes. If the changes help, I update the name to the new average laptime (ie. Aston
128765). If it’s worse, I delete it.
I then work on the Getting Started Tab. Answer the questions based on your assessment of
the track – there are no right or wrong answers. In my opinion, this is a pretty normal track,
pretty smooth, and runs counterclockwise. I have an existing setup so I answered yes.
I then went to the Rough-In tab and filled in the information and made the recommended
changes. It recommended I close the engine duct and the brake duct 1 click, and make
some tire pressure and camber changes.
I run another stint to test these changes and they improved the feel of the car. Time to move
on to the ARB tab.
I run a test stint here, focusing on the ARB control. On my 6 th lap, I avoid another car and
end up sliding into a wall, finishing my test before all 7 laps are done. No problem, I decide
to use the best 2 of 5 laps instead of 3 of 7 for this session.
I enter my data on the test tab, and fill in the rough-in tab again. On my last test, it
recommended I close the engine duct 1 click. However, this time, my engine temp is higher,
so it recommends I open it one. If it recommends I close it again, I probably will ignore it
since I know overheating the car (even if it’s a little, not enough to register an rFactor
warning) will kill the engine quickly.
I also noted that I really wasn’t using 6th gear as much as I thought, so I changed my answer
to barely using 6th (it recommends I lower final drive 1 click).
I then complete the tire chart and make it’s recommended adjustments. I note that this time
it’s recommendations are smaller (2 click instead of 5, etc), meaning I’m getting closer to it
being right on. Also, I see that I should move the weight back 2 clicks – my front tires are
warmer than the rear.
It says “no major issues”, so I make these changes in my setup and then go to the ARB tab.
I enter my current front and rear ARB (4.13 and 3.17) and my opinion of how the car is
generally handling in the corners (mild understeer). It recommends I lower the Front ARB 1
click, and leave the rear as-is. It’s important to note that the tire temperatures from the
Rough-in tab are used in the ARB calculations… make sure you enter your current temps or
it will make wrong recommendations!
Time to go back on track with these changes (close engine duct, reduce final drive, tire
adjustments, weight balance, and lower front ARB 1 click). Before I go out, I look at the
Assessment goal time:
This means if I am below 1:28.776, my time improved. If I’m between that time and my
previous best average (1:28.954), then my time was the same. If it’s worse than previous,
then it got worse.
I ran my test stint… My average time (3 of 7) is now a 1:28.554. An improvement of .4
seconds average… not bad! Car felt pretty good, but I noted still a bit of mild understeer.
Also, I’m still not at the rev limiter in 6th gear.
Time to enter data into SUE. I complete the Test Data tab, Rough-In tab, and ARB tab. On
the rough-in tab, I need to complete tire temperature information, but I notice my fastest lap
was on lap 2. My tires aren’t up to heat yet, so I pick my next fastest lap – lap 6.
On the ARB tab, I note that my time improved and the feel was improved – so it tells me to
do ARB again. It’s important to note that I had to complete the Rough-in tab so ARB has
accurate tire temps to work with. I note minor understeer and it recommends I lower front 2
clicks and rear 1 click. I make my adjustments (final gearing, tires, ARB) and do another
stint. My new goal time is 1:28.200.
Back to the track… During my test stint, the car is suddenly starting to come alive for me. I
dropped almost a full second this time – down to a 1:27.669. I complete the Test Data tab,
the Rough-In tab, and the ARB tab. Since my brakes have been good and I haven’t changed
them, I can skip that step.
If I was in a rush, I’d move on, the car made great progress that adjustment. If I have time,
I’d do ARB once again. This time, I note it feels pretty balanced, but still a bit of understeer,
so I leave it on minor understeer. It recommends I lower front and rear 1 more click.
Back to the track… This time, the car didn’t feel better, probably a bit sluggish in the corners.
In general, I didn’t like the changes and my average time was only .03 faster… not worth
keeping the setup. So I revert back to my previous setup and go on to the next step.
At Interlagos, I do another stint, trying to feel how my car feels entering and exiting corners. I
find it easier to focus on 1 or the other for a couple laps. In this case, the front of my car
slides when I enter a corner, and the back feels good. Exiting a corner I get a bit of
understeer as well (car wants to go straight). Also, the engine seems to hook up nicely – no
significant tire spin (I feel a little in 1 corner, but it’s not an important corner so I ignore it).
In my opinion (there is no right or wrong answer), Interlagos has several important slow
corners, and only a couple fast bends that are important.
After this test session, my times are pretty comparable. I decide that I’ve pretty much hit a
“wall” with this setup – I need more downforce. I’ll come back to this step, and the
suspension settings later.
For Interlagos, I believe I need more downforce. It’s a tight, twisty track with relatively short
straights on it. My car is understeering in the few higher speed corners so I tell it that. It
recommends I add 1 click of front downforce – so I do this and try it. My target time is
However, once on track, within a lap or two, I can tell I’m really too loose now, the car is not
good. So I go back to SUE and change understeer back to neutral. SUE recommends I add
two clicks of rear downforce and retest.
After I complete the test, my average is 1:27.537. Better than previous, but not enough to
retest. I save my new setup, and decide to work on my entry/exit again (step 6). Before I do
that, I make sure to enter all the test data and rough-in data (my tire temps will definitely
change due to the additional loading from the extra downforce).
My car is handling much better now. I’m still slower than many drivers out on track, but I
hear they are all on Medium tires. I’m still running Hards, so I’m not too worried.
I enter my corner entry and exit information and current setup information.
SUE makes some recommendations which I follow. Nice! Knocked off another .232
seconds off my average time. This beats my target time which means I should retest this
page. I enter my new feels – notice the car isn’t understeering (front end slides forward
instead of turns) as much when entering a corner, but now I have a bit of oversteer when
exiting (rear wants to get loose).
I enter my current setup information, and SUE makes some recommended changes.
My new target time is 1:27.130.
After testing my new adjustments, my time is no better. In fact, it’s .1 slower. Car feels good,
so it’s up to me if I keep it or get rid of the changes. I decide to get rid of the changes and
start fresh tomorrow.
At this point, I believe I’ve hit a wall with my setup. Any changes are going to yield relatively
minor improvements. I’m still on Hard tires which I think might be the wrong choice for the
race since this track is very tight and I’m sliding too much in the corners. I decide to go
ahead and run a stint on mediums to see what my new times are going to be.
Remember, even though my lap times will be quicker, it doesn’t mean my race will be
quicker! Medium tires wear out faster than hards, plus I will need to change them on my
pitstop (costing me time). It’s good though to test both tires so I can get a good feel for which
approach will work better. SUE’s strategy section will help me pick the best tire for the event
(more on this later).
So off to the track with my last fast setup, just putting medium tires on it. I run 8 laps here
with a fast average of 1:26.361 – a full second a lap faster. I believe I like the Mediums so I
complete the Alt Tires tab in SUE to make sure I have them optimized for the race.
I can see that I need to make some adjustments, most notably to move the weight forward on
the car. This will help balance the tire temperatures from front to rear.
I make decide to make these adjustments and give it another test. After this test, I’ll work up
my strategy to see which tires I will use for the race (so I know which ones to keep working
After my next test, I’m at 1:26.281 best and 1:26.292 average. That means my average of
best 3 laps is .011 seconds slower than my fastest lap… that means I’m very consistent! I
now know my setup is pretty close and I know the track well.
Looking at my tire temps, I can see that the adjustments worked nicely – my fronts went up
1C and rears came down about 2.5C.
Now it’s up to me if I want to work on the Suspension or the Gearing. I decide to work on the
gearing first. Gearing in SUE is work in process, so I won’t document here my work. Once I
finish the gearing algorithms, I’ll update this section of the manual.