Q: What does “taking a set” mean, and how do I use it?

Q: “I’ve been track driving for a good while and don’t understand the car “taking a set.” How do we sense when the car sets, why do we need it to set, how do we take advantage of car set? My Tahoe does what might be described as taking a set on entrance ramps, and when it does it will take more throttle. My V8 944 with Moton suspension never seems to “set” when running on track.”

A: When a car has “taken a set,” it’s finished with the weight transfer that comes during the corner entry or exit phases. The weight transfer from braking and turning into the corner is complete, and there isn’t much weight transfer to the rear from accelerating, yet. It’s that point in between where the car is at or close to steady state, and it has maximum grip.

When a car is in the state where a change in weight transfer is occurring, the driver has a harder time sensing how much grip the tires have because that grip level is changing. Since weight transfer changes the amount of traction a tire has, when it’s in transition, it’s a moving target for the driver to sense/read it. That’s why a car that has taken a set is easier to drive at the limit.

Obviously, some corners are so short that the instant the corner entry weight transfer is finishing, the corner exit weight transfer has started – and therefore, the car never really takes a full set. Now, this “taking a set” thing is not an on-off situation. You can have a car very near having taken a set, and that’s easier to drive at the limit than one that is still a long ways from that state.

How do you sense when the car has taken a set. Practice. Being aware. If you deliberately focus on how the car feels, and especially the weight transfer that you’re causing be braking, turning and accelerating, you will notice whether it’s taken a set, or it’s in a transitional state.

If you car never takes a set, I wonder if the dampers (shocks) are in phase with the springs and anti-roll bars. Or whether you’re driving smooth enough. Or whether the corners you’re driving are long enough to notice it. I can image your Tahoe taking a set on a freeway entrance ramp because the corner is long, and the vehicle does not have enough overall cornering power to allow you to really stand on the throttle to cause a lot of weight transfer. In this situation, the Tahoe is in steady state, or a gentle, smooth acceleration state.

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