DIRT Rally 2.0 – Colin McRae: FLAT OUT Pack – Ultimate Setup Guide

This is the ultimate setup guide for DIRT Rally 2.0 – Colin McRae: FLAT OUT Pack.

Ultimate Setup Guide


This guide emphasizes consistent, predictable results. This is not a document aimed towards achieving the fastest time in a single event, although it is a common effect. This is not a document aimed at any particular driving style. It will tell how to adjust each setting to achieve particular results.
Through the guide oversteer and understeer terms will often be emphasized. So, here is an image with brief description to get the basic idea:
• Oversteer: Rear wheels are slipping more than front wheels.
• Understeer: Front wheels are slipping more than rear wheels.
To overcome understeer, you may steer through the direction where car tends to slip (out of the way) and apply a little brake (maybe handbrake).

1. Brakes

If you aren’t familiar with rally technique you may be surprised how important brakes are to weight shifting and turning. Brakes are so important because they allow you to shift the weight of the vehicle while staying on the accelerator. When a vehicle enters braking in a straight line, the weight transfers to the front. The back end will not have the same grip as the front. They also keep you from driving your brand-new rally car right off the cliffs of Greece.

When a car is sliding sideways, it is a little more complex. You may want to downshift instead of using brakes to pull the car’s nose forward again (more on that in differentials). If you need more oversteer; tap your parking brake and brace. Rally driving is not just constantly using the e-brake! To get the best time possible you need to learn to left foot brake while using the accelerator. Left foot braking is another concept for another guide but take a minute to look it up if you can.

1.1. Basic Brake Tuning

If you just want to set your brakes and get out there, 90% of the time the best position for the brake setting is right in the middle.

A nice 50/50 brake distribution is the best braking profile when you don’t want to mess around or get into advanced techniques. A 50/50 braking profile gives the car enough stopping power up front to slow down and enough braking power in the back to brake-drift most of the turns on every stage.

If you are using an RWD car and you want the back end to be more “controlled” then a 40/60 profile (60% braking power in the front) might be more appropriate. You can control some of the gross oversteer of the RWD cars by shifting the braking power to the front, which I highly recommend you do.

Logic behind this: Keep in mind that oversteer occurs when rear of the car is slipping more than the front. Because in an RWD car, driver wheels are at the back (so is power) but you lose that power on brake. So, let rear wheels grip road and push you forward, by just rounding, instead of slipping.

Dirt Rally 2.0 Hint: (Braking Force) High brake strength can make braking more responsive but it can also cause your wheels to lock. Low brake strength can make braking feel vague but should reduce the chances of the wheels locking up.
(Brake Bias) Front-biased brakes can reduce oversteer but cause understeer under heavy braking. Rear-biased brakes can reduce understeer, but cause oversteer under heavy braking. Too much bias on either axle can cause the wheels to lock.
WRC 8 Hint: (Brake Bias) Determines car behavior on corners. With more power at the rear [-] the car is prone to oversteering, facilitating drifts. With more power at the front [+] you have more stopping power, but the car is prone to understeering.

1.2. Advanced Brake Tuning

There aren’t a lot of ways to get creative even when using the advanced braking tools. As with the simple brake setup, too much in either direction on either slider will make the car unstable and unusable. If you find you are braking too late and constantly running into the wall you might consider bumping up the stopping power by one notch. If you like to start on the brakes really early, then dropping the power down by one might be for you. Otherwise the standard braking power is probably the best for most of the game.

This really helps with brake-drifting and left foot braking. If you are already “fast” and want to get faster this will likely work on most of the AWD and FWD cars. It will allow you to approach corners faster and left-foot brake through them.

The only other major advanced recommendation I can make is leaving the braking power normal but changing the brakes to favor the rear (specifically in AWD setups, not RWD)

Biasing brakes more on rear on FWD vehicles will support aligning the rear of the car to the road by drifting with locked rear wheels. (This is a taste of driving)

1.2.1. Brake Bias

As car decelerates, load transfers to the front tires, which improves front tire grip while decreasing the grip at the rear of the car. All load transfers like this are similar to the effect aerodynamic elements such as wings have on a car. They increase/decrease load on a tire without changing the weight. This can have a big effect on car balance, so the primary goal is to adjust the proportion of the braking forces between front and rear (brake bias) in order to maximize overall braking efficiency. Many times, however, adjusting the brake bias to what allows the driver to best control the car at corner entry is more important.

Front biased brakes tend to cause understeer while used. This is often because the wheels do not have enough traction to both redirect momentum while simultaneously slowing.
Front biased brakes also shift weight more quickly to the front, which allows for extra traction (and, therefore, braking ability) up front.
If the front wheels lock, all effects are exaggerated.
Rear biased brakes tend to cause oversteer while braking. Most vehicles will oversteer and slide if brakes are applied while turning. In FWD vehicles, this is a desirable, predictable, and consistent loose surface and hairpin turn technique.

Both AWD and FWD vehicles can make great use of a slight rear brake bias. It allows for a consistent rotation without any throttle input. This can be especially useful when it is paired with a strong differential and a straight-line stability-focused suspension setup because it allows the driver to spin the car while braking, and then accelerate into a predictable, self-straightening slide.Rear biased brakes and RWD vehicles do not generally combine for predictable handling.

We’ll go over some ways to set the theoretical optimum first and then talk about some of the compromises you may decide to make. The easiest way to set the optimum is visually. You will adjust the brake bias until the front and rear start to lock up under braking at the same time. You might want to have a slight forward bias to lock up the fronts just a little bit sooner for stability though.

If you have a sensitive and skilled driver, they will be able to set the brake bias simply based on how the car responds under braking and this might be the ideal way to begin setting your bias even for a novice. Although the theoretical optimum might be ideal for straight-line braking this might not provide the stability needed for carrying the brakes into the turn for trail braking. When a driver first starts experimenting with trail braking, it would be a good idea to set a more forward bias for extra stability and then slowly work their way rearward as their skills improve.

Some drivers will set more rearward bias than is optimal and use advanced techniques like mixing throttle with braking to have more control over the car at corner entry. There is not a lot of time to be gained by the theoretical optimum bias and it can change from corner to corner if there are elevation changes in the brake zone as well as with changing fuel loads, aero effects, tire grip changes, etc… Usually focusing on what makes a driver most comfortable under threshold braking, and trail braking will be the overriding factor.

1.2.2. Brake Strength

2. Differential (Front)

The front differential comes into play with FWD and AWD vehicles (RWD cars do not have a front differential.) It is right place to mention that differentials usually take more time to perfect.
It is very important to note the differentials in Dirt Rally are LOCKING differentials. This mean the stronger the diff, the more the differential is forcing both wheels to rotate at the same speed. By pushing the slider all the way to loose (left), there is essentially no locking power and the wheels will be able to spin independently. If the slider is set all the way to strong (right), the differential will always lock the wheels to the same speed.

You must steer the car with the front so don’t ever completely lock the front differential. If you lock the front completely the car will grossly understeer and be completely unmanageable.

How a differential works:
A loose differential allows for a greater difference in rotation speed between the two wheels. Generally, a loose differential allows for a vehicle to turn at greater angles without losing traction, although it does not provide much assistance in straightening the vehicle’s steering nor momentum.

A strong differential allows for less difference in rotation speed between the two wheels. This helps the wheels both travels straight, relative to where the wheels are currently pointed. A tight differential also encourages a vehicle to push its momentum towards wherever the wheels are pointed, because both wheels want to spin close to the same speed. This same effect causes the inner wheel to lose traction extremely quickly in sharp turns. This can be desirable for drift-heavy driving styles.

A loose (or lower percentage than default) braking percentage increases the vehicle’s ability to turn without losing traction. Lowering the braking percentage can make the car feel as though it has more stability or traction available while braking or engine braking and turning at the same time.

A strong (or high percentage) braking differential encourages the car to stop rotation and slow wheel speed. This means the driver can use the brakes to create understeer, or to more easily stop accidental slides.

2.1. Basic Front Differential Tuning

Stages with a lot of turns, low maximum speed; use a loose suspension OR loose anti-roll bars. This way you will support your car to handle in turns by keeping weight transfer limited so that the car weight inside the turn keep it steady.

Stages with long straight sections, long sweeping turns, high maximum speed; firm suspension AND firm anti-roll bars. Because you want a stable car under high speeds, loose suspensions would hit the car more effectively on high speeds.

When using a very firm suspension, the inside wheels can lift off the ground. If you don’t have any locking power, the differential will spin out and throw you outside, connected wheel will be powerless.

FWD vehicles tend to understeer at full throttle with strong acceleration differentials. If the differential is strong, the driver can easily pull use on-throttle understeer to power the car through a slide predictably.

A weaker acceleration differential allows for more throttle and acceleration in turns without losing traction, though the driver must rely entirely on counter steering through slides. This creates an easier to drive vehicle for many drivers than the alternative.

A stronger differential than default allows for on-throttle understeer and more straight-line stability. The on throttle oversteer helps pull out of slides in a reliable manner. A default or slightly lower braking percentage combined with a lowered torque preload can negate this disadvantage entirely. These adjustments allow the vehicle to pull through slides, and steer sharply by letting off the throttle.
There is no perfect setting. Your front differential tune should complement your rear differential strategy (more on that in the rear diff section).

Regardless of your strategy I highly recommend keeping the front differential setting at 50% (halfway) or lower (loose).

2.2. Advanced Front Differential Tuning

All cars in Dirt Rally (except for FWD) are faster when power comes from the back while the front is used to make sure the car pulls into the turn and stays in the turn (aka, you don’t want understeer).

Therefore, I almost always recommend using some combination of advanced settings that promote front axle mid corner traction and a powerful rear axle, especially when using an AWD vehicle.

2.2.1. Front LSD Driving Lock

This is your primary lock and the one that is in play while you are pressing the gas pedal. The maximum is should ever be set is 50% (halfway). If the stage is twisty, speed is low, and suspension is relatively soft, this should be set to low. (A locked differential will not support your turn as it pushes two connected wheels to rotate at the same rate. However, on a straight way, if one of the wheels rotate faster or loose its traction due to a ditch, snow or wet area (too loose differential) your car will tend to move faster on more gripped wheel which in turns causes car to move less gripped wheel directions resulting instability.)

The differential limits the speed difference between whatever wheels it is connected to. Its effect on handling is complex. Differential adjustments can cause and/or solve traction issues in almost every situation: starting, stopping, changing directions, sliding.

Adjusting the differential requires more than understanding how to adjust its settings. It requires the driver/tuner to understand exactly what the issue is while driving. Differential settings are generally adjusted to fine tune performance in particular situations, or to correct problems that only arise in particular situations.
These adjustments can be very different between drivetrains, although the general theory remains the same.
Note: Sliders have opposite logic in WRC 8 and Dirt Rally 2.0.

Dirt Rally 2.0 Hint: A high lock percentage will improve straight-line traction although it may induce understeer particularly in low grip conditions (Remember front wheels slip more than rear wheels). A low lock percentage will improve cornering at a cost of straight-line stability.
WRC 8 Hint: (LSD Acceleration) A high percentage improves cornering while accelerating but decreases stability. A low percentage improves traction while accelerating but may lead understeering.
(LSD Deceleration) A high percentage improves cornering but decreases stability. A low percentage improves traction while decelerating but may lead to understeering.

2.2.2. Front LSD Braking Lock

This comes into play during braking. By keeping it low you have more turn in traction and less risk of understeer, especially on heavy to medium gravel. The penalty is increased breaking distance, but it barely matters. If you are running a proper line, the loss to braking isn’t remotely important.

Open the braking lock as much as you comfortable with the track.

Dirt Rally 2.0 Hint: A high lock percentage will improve traction under braking but may induce understeer on corner entry. A low lock percentage will reduce understeer on corner entry but traction under braking may be compromised.
WRC 8 Hint: A high percentage reduces understeer but decreases traction. A low percentage improves traction when braking but may lead to understeer when turning into corners.

2.2.3. Front LSD Preload Lock

This is how effective the front diff is when under little or no torque (aka, not using the gas pedal & not braking). If in doubt, leave it on a medium-low setting. Only turn it up if the stage has purely shallow/wide turns and you find yourself “coasting” around them (and need to get back on the gas quickly).

This tune is used in combination with a strong back end. You don’t want to simply implement this setting without considering what you are doing with the rest of the vehicle.

If you are using a FWD vehicle and there is no rear differential to consider, make sure your differential strategy matches your stage and suspension strategy.

But regardless, I never, ever recommend using a very strong front differential in ANY vehicle, ever.
Dirt Rally 2.0 Hint: Applying preload partially lock the differential when little or no torque is applied drivetrain ensuring it is never fully open. This can improve mid-corner traction but, having it too high may induce understeer.
WRC 8 Hint: The front differential manages the difference in rotation between front wheels. An open differential [+] reduces traction, but the car is easier to turn. A locked differential [-] provides more traction but reduces the ability to turn.

3. Differential (Centre)

You won’t find the center differential tuning option on many of the vehicles in Dirt Rally. It is, however, a very important part of the drivetrain if the vehicle is equipped with one as it can drastically alter how the vehicles accelerates, brakes and turns. As you might have guessed, it is only available on AWD cars.

The viscous differential works exactly like the front and rear differentials, except this one limit the difference between the front and back wheels. This adjustment mostly affects two things; how sharp an angle the car can turn into before the rear slides, and how the vehicle responds to throttle control during a slide. It does affect other parts of the handling, but in relatively minor ways.

This is best adjusted last, after other parts of the vehicle are satisfactory. Generally, the overall effects are similar to the other two differentials.

A strong one increases tendency to travel straight, reduces the angle at which it can turn without sliding, and increases available traction in those straight lines. A loose viscous differential causes the opposite.

The “stronger” the center diff is set, the less the center diff allows the front and rear axles to act differently.

Dirt Rally 2.0 Hint: (Torque Bias) Biasing the torque the rear wheels will induce throttle oversteer similar to an RWD setup. Increasing the bias towards the front will reduce throttle oversteer. But this may cause understeer when on throttle through corners.
(Viscous Differential) A strong differential reduces the speed difference between the axles which can improve straight-line traction, but it may cause understeer depending on the chassis layout.

WRC 8 Hint: (LSD Preload Central) The central differential manages the difference in rotation between the front and rear axles. An open differential [+] reduces traction, but easier to turn. A locked differential [-] provides more traction but reduces the ability to turn.
(LSD Acceleration Central) A high percentage improves cornering while accelerating but decreases stability. A low percentage improves traction while accelerating but may lead to understeering.
(LSD Deceleration Central) A high percentage improves cornering but decreases stability. A low percentage improves traction while accelerating but may lead to understeering.
(LSD Braking Central) A high percentage improves cornering while braking but decreases stability. A low percentage improves traction while braking but may lead to understeering.
(Torque Distribution) These settings allow you to manage the distribution of vehicle torque between the front and rear axles. A [-] distribution gives more power to rear axle. A [+] distribution gives more power to the front axle.

3.1. Basic Center Differential Tuning

If you want to jump right into the action and aren’t sure how the center diff should be set, put it at medium and be done with it:

A medium center diff is the best balance of both worlds. You get enough locking for straight line speed and enough flexibility for turns. It’s not perfect, but it works well on gravel or tarmac.

AWD vehicles have both front and rear differentials. Any adjustments made to acceleration or braking percentages should be made equally to both front and rear axles. If only one is adjusted, or if one percentage is adjusted without the other, the on-throttle or on-braking balance will change. Ultimately, tuning an AWD’s differentials is about creating handling behavior the driver can use most reliably and effectively.

A high acceleration percent and a low braking percent encourages the vehicle to push straight ahead on throttle, while allowing sharp, gripping turn-in while braking and engine braking. This also causes left foot braking maneuvers to rotate the vehicle more sharply with less steering input.

This particular setup encourages a driver to brake into and power out of turns. This kind of setup may also require more negative camber to make full use of the sharper turn-in radius.

A low acceleration percent and high braking percent allows sharp, gripping turn-in while on the throttle, but causes understeer while braking or engine braking. This behavior lets the driver regain grip in low traction situations by releasing the throttle. This adjustment also allows a driver to slow or stop rotation by using the brakes.

This encourages a driver to power through turns, using brakes to shift weight and/or slow/stop rotation as needed.

3.2. Advanced Center Differential Tuning

The advanced center differential tuning options are some of the most important in the game when talking about the drivetrain. They can be used to make an AWD vehicle act like a rear or front powered vehicle instead

For all that is holy in rally don’t ever make an AWD car act like an FWD or RWD car.

The key point about the advanced center options is that it gives you access to the torque bias. By changing the torque bias to a larger rear, the car is capable applying more torque to the rear wheels. The torque bias is very important. If you want to go fast and drive THROUGH turns properly you should always have a bit more torque in the rear than in the front (or an equal front/rear balance). Don’t go crazy and turn an AWD car into an RWD one. Simply tweak the torque so a bit more than 50% is in the rear.

This is viable on both gravel and tarmac. Once you get use to using the advanced options, play around with it and see what suits you better.
Higher viscous locking will add stability during turn-in, as well as traction on-power during corner exits. Too much, however, can cause too much resistance to chassis yaw which will create understeer. It can also cause excessive drag on the driveline by generating too much viscous friction when not all of it is needed to balance the car.
Torque bias depends on the driver preferences. The effects are obvious. An AWD vehicle will generally mimic whatever bias it is set towards. Most AWD vehicles in are biased towards the rear. This guide recommends keeping AWD vehicles biased towards the rear, at least 40/60%. Anything more than that is entirely preference.

More rear power makes the car more likely to oversteer. As the torque bias approaches 50/50, many vehicles become extremely stable. This could be desirable for some drivers.

Changes here can drastically alter the entire feel of a vehicle. If the torque bias is adjusted, expect to change differentials and suspension settings to compensate for the changed behavior. Changing a vehicle’s torque bias more than 1-2 marks often requires numerous shakedowns or runs to account for the differences, but it can be an extremely rewarding change.

Some vehicles dramatically benefit from torque bias adjustments. The hill climb Peugeot 405 is an AWD vehicle, though its default settings have all the power going to the rear. This vehicle is a completely different machine with a 40/60 or 30/70 front/rear bias. The 1995 Subaru Impreza is a 90/10 by default; it makes much more sense as a 10/90. Many group B vehicles are far less intimidating as the bias moves towards 50/50; it makes them feel less “twitchy” while accelerating.

4. Differential (Rear)

In my opinion, the rear diff will make or break your strategy. If you want to power through the turns hard, keep your speed up and left foot brake like a madman, you need to consider HOW you are setting your rear diff. Unlike the front, the rear differential is where you will be making your power with AWD and RWD vehicles.

4.1. Basic Rear Differential Tuning

4.2. Advanced Rear Differential Tuning

4.2.1. Rear LSD Driving Lock

This is your primary lock and the one that will create the oversteer that you want. You want the back end to “push” the car. In medium and heavy gravel, you can’t rely on the front to pull the car. If you are on tarmac, it depends on your suspension strategy. If there is risk of the inside wheels lifting off the ground, you need some medium or high locking power. However, if you are on low speed tarmac with a lot of turns, you need to set the driving lock lower because both wheels will be connected to the ground and they need to spin more independently.

The Stratos, like other RWDs, is already very unstable with power on loose surfaces. Let’s pretend we weld the back axle together, so both wheels spin at the same speed (or setting your driving lock at 100%). As soon as we begin a turn, the wheels will break traction immediately. We don’t even need to apply gas, it’s a done deal. Since the worst handling for the Stratos under power is in the tight corners, you might say, “Why not loosen the lock all the way?”.

LSD’s try to place power to the wheel with best grip. While turning, most of the traction is on the outside wheels. If your ride height is set high and road camber is bad, you may have no traction on your inside wheels (you start to flip). If all the power is set to the outside wheel, the loss of traction might come off as unpredictable. Some drivers want to get all the power to that wheel, some want more stability and predictability at the cost of power to that wheel. It’s down to personal taste.

One of the nasty side effects of Limited Slip Diffs for any car is when you have two wheels on the track and two offs. When under power, your grippier wheel(s) will try to throttle steer you into the ditch.

Dirt Rally 2.0 Hint: A high lock percentage will improve straight-line traction although it may induce oversteer particularly in low grip conditions. A low lock percentage will improve cornering at a cost of straight-line stability.

WRC 8 Hint: (LSD Acceleration) A high percentage improves cornering while accelerating but decreases stability. A low percentage improves traction while accelerating but may lead understeering.
(LSD Deceleration) A high percentage improves cornering but decreases stability. A low percentage improves traction while accelerating but may lead to understeering.

4.2.2. Rear LSD Braking Lock

4.2.3. Rear LSD Preload

This is the strength of the diff when not under load. Since you still want some locking power, you should consider a low to medium setting depending on suspension and stage.

You still want the driving lock to be medium to high, depending on your suspension. The only major difference is the Braking and Preload Locks. When on tarmac, you want responsiveness in turning when not applying the gas. Using too much braking and preload lock will create understeer when entering a turn. Tarmac doesn’t “give” like gravel and you want the wheels to rotate at different speeds. [Remember, tuning options vary by vehicle!]

Dirt Rally 2.0 Hint: Applying preload partially lock the differential when little or no torque is applied drivetrain ensuring it is never fully open. This can improve mid-corner traction but, having it too high may induce understeer.

WRC 8 Hint: The rear differential manages the difference in rotation between the rear wheels. An open differential [+] reduces traction, but the car is easier to turn. A locked differential [-] provides more traction but reduces the ability to turn.

4.3. Notes

What about RWD only?

RWD is a tricky beast. You can follow the rules for AWD above, but it is best to start with ALL your differential settings looser than the AWD tune. RWD takes a lot of practice to master and you will want the “forgiveness” of a looser differential. Once you feel you have the car under control try experimenting with some stronger settings to see if it improves your times.

What about Finland?

Since Finland is fast and the road is composed of light gravel, but smooth terrain, you will want something in between tarmac and gravel. Start with a gravel setup and tweak it from there.

What about snow?

Snow is tricky but for the most part Dirt Rally treats snow as slippery gravel. A gravel tune will generally work well in the snow stages.

5. Gears

Gears…this should be called the “set it and forget it” section. Generally, proper gearing makes the largest difference and requires the least fine tuning. Automatic has some advantages, but the manual allows for a driver to limit speed based on gear, and drift far more predictably than the automatic gearboxes in sim allow. (It is a common sense to start with automatic and by the time you have improved yourself, get your hands dirty on the shifter for more enjoy and great times.) The basic adjustment slider is the only one I recommend using unless you want to get into gear ratios and shift points. And if you screw up your ratios and shift point the car won’t even work properly.
A driver should tune their gearbox for each individual stage if they want the best results, although a slightly longer than default (2-5 marks towards long) will be satisfactory for most situations. A slightly shorter gearing (2-4 marks towards short) is a great idea for low powered vehicles upward-focused stages in.
“Longer” gears mean the car will stay in a single gear through a larger range of speeds. This can slow acceleration because the engine takes longer to rev up to the point where both power and turbo fully engage. This also means the vehicle is easier to control via throttle, as the engine will not ‘rev up’ as quickly while in gear. In other words, long gears make for higher top speed in each individual gear.

For courses with numerous hairpins, shorter gears are useful because they allow for faster acceleration from lower speeds. With short gears, the driver can almost always find a gear where the car is in the power band (or revving high), which also encourages faster acceleration. This can also cause more wheel spin in most vehicles.

1st Gear should almost always be individually set longer than default by 2-3 marks regardless of how the rest of the gears are set. This will make starting from a stop without excessively spinning wheels easier. If there are many hairpins, consider 3-5 marks towards longer to exaggerate these effects.

A driver wants a top speed just below the absolute maximum possible speed for the given stage. A driver needs a gearing ratio where they can remain in one or two gears for almost the entire race. This allows the driver to steer with the brake and throttle more reliably for two reasons.

First, any two footed techniques affect the engine’s RPMs less dramatically (which makes its balance and stance more consistent). Secondly, the driver shifts less, which allows for more consistent application of power and fewer unnecessary weight shifts.
One of the awesome things about is that there’s way too much power for the tiny little first gear they installed with the car. So, I like to spread the power somewhere else (note how long first gear is in the image).

The above is my starting point. Notice how I curved (interpolated) the points to the same top speed (which I didn’t really hit on the long straightaway). As I get braver, I’ll tweak 1st back more until traction gets out of hand.
A few notches under halfway (favor acceleration) is a great strategy for any stage if you are starting out. Once you learn the ins and outs of the stage/location you can tweak it up or down a few notches from there.

The best advice I can give is to almost always favor acceleration over top speed. This is rally, not F1. You rarely need top speed, ever.

According to the number of corners/hairpins and straights on the track you must choose proper gear ratios. For twisty tracks without long straights go for short ratios. This increases the vehicle acceleration but, on the other hand, decreases its top speed. For speedy stages with lots of straights and gentle bends you should choose long gearing which will allow you to reach high top speed, unfortunately at a cost of acceleration.

If the track consists of lots of hairpins but also has a couple of long straights (and usually you deal with this situation) the lower gear ratios can be set up with good acceleration in mind (for these hairpins) and then the higher gears can be stretched out to allow for higher top speeds (for those long straights). Remember only to test your settings on the shakedown first, to check if the gaps between gears are smooth, because it can often be a problem balancing the ratios when you’re going for mixed low speed acceleration with a high-top speed. Keep in mind, gearing for higher top speeds only helps if the driver can consistently stay near it. Otherwise, the driver is better served by greater acceleration (and a lower top speed they may actually use).

Always rev your car out to redline, even turbocharged cars. This is because in a relatively lower gear, there will still be more torque going through the drive axle than when in a gear up, even though the engine produces more power. In a low gear, you will measure a lot of torque through the drive axle, because you multiply engine power by the gear ratios. So, for each higher gear you go, (if your engine always made the same power) less torque will go through the drive axle.
In Wales, a long top gear is useless; most of the turns and sections will not allow for top speed. In this case, acceleration is key.

In Monte Carlo, a bias towards acceleration helps immensely with hairpins and uphill stages. Longer gearing may make the vehicle’s throttle/power balance more easy to control in snow/ice sections, but there are few opportunities to make use of an incredibly high top speed.

A perfect run in Greece requires the driver to tune for uphill vs. downhill. If the driver can handle the speed, a longer-than-default ratio can increase the overall speed for some sections, but the fastest sections in Greece are often the easiest to crash on. A bias toward short gears (or acceleration) helps immensely when climbing the steep cliffsides; too long a gear ratio means most vehicles struggle to accelerate, even in the powerband.

In Germany, a driver should gear for the highest possible speed in the highest possible gear on the straight sections, although acceleration is a huge help for the many tight-angle turns.

In Finland, there is no reason for a shorter gear ratio. On almost every section of every stage, a driver can use the top gear (or top two gears, for some sections) without ever dropping to 1, 2, or 3. A higher top speed is ideal, but a driver must take care not to overdrive their own abilities.

In almost every situation, a driver benefits from finding a comfortable gearing ratio that is longer than the default ratio.

5.1.The Magic Stack

Did any of you run the RS200 for the daily event only to find it couldn’t climb out of 1st gear? Some of us were able to paddle shift up but stacking the low-end gears together would have helped.
Also remember that annoying downshift/upshift/downshift business in Greece? Run your gears closer together at the high end, so your little engine can squeeze top gear. As a rule, you want to bias your gears together more for hill climb stages and spread them out for descents.
Take care not to run your gears too short, or you’ll end up locking up the back end when engine braking. More on that when we get to differentials.
You will want to go with Manual Sequential for the following reasons:

Downshifting, in addition to braking, will slow your car way down. In many cases, such as in a properly setup Stratos, it will improve stability by a long shot.

You can better control your RPM levels. For turbo installed cars, having your boost go to zero at a hairpin is not good.

If you’re pushing too hard, you can stick to a gear to keep you honest. That way you’re not letting momentum get out of control.

If you find the car hits the limiter during a stage, go back and push it up one notch and try again.
Dirt Rally 2.0 Hint: (1st-5th Gear) A short ratio will improve acceleration at a cost of top speed. A long ratio will reduce acceleration but increase top speed. Too short a ratio may make it

6. Suspension (Front)

The front suspension will affect several vehicle characteristics including (but not limited to):

• Turn In
• Weight Transfer
• Jump Absorption
• Ride Height
• Overall stability on changing terrain
The front suspension has less of an effect on:
• Sudden SHOCK absorption
• Rebound from sudden shock

What does all this mean?
• In most cases the looser the front suspension the more the vehicle will rock or sway on its springs and not react to forces acting upon it (i.e. road conditions).
• In real life, a loose front suspension allows for easier steering. In Dirt Rally, however, the difference is negligible.
• The looser the front suspension the more the vehicle will allow weight to transfer to the front of the frame while braking or changing direction.
• The looser the front suspension, the more that weight transfer will cause the front tires to dig in (up to point, this has limitations).
• The looser the front suspension the more the vehicle will navigate and absorb changes in terrain and elevation.
• The looser the front suspension, the less chance there is to see an inside wheel lift off the ground.

Suspension is a tricky game to play because loose and firm suspension both have their advantages. It is critical to tune your suspension to the terrain. The front suspension, like the rear, should be set based on the terrain and matched to the differential setting (usually). This means:

Smooth Terrain (Tarmac, Cement, Light Gravel): Firm to Medium Suspension

Rough Terrain (Heavy Gravel, Medium Gravel, Snow): Medium to Loose Suspension

Always tune your front suspension as stiff as reasonably possible!
Because this is a video game and you can take advantage of the game mechanics. In almost every case you can afford to tune the front suspension higher than the game probably recommends. I guess Dirt Rally doesn’t really have the mechanics to “punish” the car for using a slight-too-firm front suspension (still, don’t make it TOO stiff). A medium to firm front suspension keeps the car more stable and you experience a lot less slop. I recommend always trying to tune your front suspension as stiff as you can get away with. The only location in DR that really beats up a car is Greece. It is the only location you might think about using a fairly loose suspension.

6.1. Front Suspension Basic Tuning

If you want to quickly set the basic front suspension option, then set it at 50% when dealing with rough terrain (e.g. Greece, Wales) and slightly stiffer on smooth terrain.

For example you may set that the front differential is relatively loose but front suspension is still medium. We want the turn-in and forgiveness from medium front suspension and I’ll also get proper absorption. A medium front suspension also ensures both wheels remain on the ground (inside wheel doesn’t lift off). If you find the car feels sloppy, keep bumping it up one notch until the car reacts the way you want it to, especially on tarmac.

What about smooth terrain?

If you are dealing with smooth or hard terrain like tarmac or cement (and even smooth gravel), you would need to weight other factors like the stage layout and what speed you will be taking turns. This is where it is critical to understand what the vehicle will encounter during the stage or location.

If you will be traveling very fast and expect to make very sharp and sudden turns (i.e. Baumholder, Germany) you will likely need to use a firm suspension (for speed) AND a medium front differential (for turn) because there is risk of the inside wheels lifting off the ground.

If the stage is more technical (i.e. Monaco) and max speed is a lot slower, then your suspension can still be fairly stiff, but the front differential may be looser (since there is less risk of the inside wheels lifting up).

6.2. Front Suspension Advanced Tuning

6.2.1. Front Ride Height

The optimal ride height depends greatly on race surface and vehicle drivetrain. Ride height has advantages and disadvantages depending on where it is set. A “tall” ride protects the car from bumps, rocks and rough landings but makes the car harder to steer and less reactive to input. The best general strategy is set the ride height above 0 on rough and uneven terrain (i.e. Greece, Wales) and 0 or below on smooth terrain. That said, I never use the default ride height that the game uses because it is too high in most cases. I always recommend dropping the ride height by one or two notches from the default.

Ride height is the most important factor lowering the vehicle’s center of gravity. A lowered center of gravity allows for larger and quicker changes of directional momentum than a higher one. It also creates a more favorable aerodynamic profile.

The primary ride height consideration for most cars will be lowering the CG (center of gravity) as much as possible without bottoming out excessively or running into suspension compliance issues. Lowering the center of gravity (CG) reduces load transfer and increases grip. All else being equal the lower we can get the CG the faster the car will be. At some point, you will start having issues with bottoming out on the track or having issues within the car’s suspension, however.

The main disadvantage of a low ride height is the risk of “bottoming out,” or scraping the underside of the vehicle against the ground. This happens when the combination of ride height and damper strength is not enough to hold the car above the bumps (or jump landings) on the road. This is most noticeable once the ride height is set more than 3-4 marks lower than the default setup.

Another side effect of changing ride height is that you will change roll centers, which influences overall roll stiffness and balance. Raising one end of a car will act as if you stiffened the suspension at that end. For example, if you lower the front ride height you are lowering the front roll center, which softens the front roll stiffness and makes the car more prone to oversteer. In general, these changes are going to be relatively smaller than making an anti-roll bar change, but it’s something to keep in mind if the car is handling differently after a ride height change and you can’t figure out why.

Understand that it is actually not the amount of rake that causes the balance shift though, just simply the change in individual ride height of the front or rear. You can have a have a very steeply raked car that you would think would oversteer, but still make it understeer through other suspension settings. In general, though, you just want to think of this as a side effect of ride height changes and not a way to tune the car balance. Lowering the CG will generally still be the overriding consideration.

The only time you might want to use ride height changes to modify balance is if you are already at the end of your other adjustments and you still wish to have more oversteer or understeer.

Many times, it is best to leave the ride height untouched for loose surfaces, and only tweak it slightly for paved surfaces. This preserves the original “feel” of the vehicle and allows for the weight of the vehicle to be most easily thrown around when needed.

Be mindful of adjusting this much. Even 1-2 marks of change from the default settings can require tweaking the damper and spring settings to ensure the car doesn’t become overly twitchy or unresponsive. Even 1 mark towards a lower ride height can greatly alter its turning ability.

On loose surfaces, the front and rear ride height should lower 0-2 marks lower than default, depending on vehicle and surface. For most vehicles in most situations, the default ride height (or 1 mark lower) preserves the ability to easily and gradually shift the vehicle’s weight for reliable, predictable maneuvers. It also keeps the vehicle’s underside comfortably safe through the biggest jumps.

On paved surfaces, the number of marks lowered is the same (0-2), although vehicles have a much lower base height than on loose surfaces. Ideally, it should be adjusted as low as possible without bottoming out over the bumpiest sections of the track, given near full throttle. This is very track dependent. Germany has many bumpy sections, while the other paved roads (as of Version .50) are fairly flat, with large elevation changes.

Another consideration with a ride height change is the direct effect it will have on camber. In most cars, as you lower the suspension, the negative camber on the wheels will increase (I’m not sure if this really applies on simulations as well). The amount will vary based on suspension design, but it’s almost universal that some camber change will occur. This may be beneficial by itself if the car’s camber adjustment range is limited and the optimum camber is more negative than the adjustments allow at a higher ride height. If you have already established optimum cambers however, you will need to re-establish those if you change the ride height. This is one reason that establishing ride height early in the process is a good idea.

Dirt Rally 2.0 Hint: A low ride height helps reduce body-roll and improves overall stability, however, reduces suspension travel. High ride height will improve handling over rougher terrain at the cost of increased body-roll.
WRC 8 Hint: (Ground Clearance) The distance of the body of the car above the ground influences stability and road holding. Reduce height [-] on smooth roads and increase it [+] on bumpy roads to help the suspension do its work.

6.2.2. Front Spring Rate

This is probably the most important attribute of the advanced front suspension options.
The spring’s job is not to dampen the impact, its job is to store the energy, so we can put it somewhere else (the damper, etc.). If you receive more energy than the spring can store, such as in a hard landing, your car will bottom out and spike even more dramatically back into the air. This is what happens if your spring is either too soft (your bump stops hit) or too hard (spring acts like a bump stop).

The spring firmness should be adjusted if there are other problems due to excessive front-back body roll (on throttle or braking) The spring settings also affect side-to-side weight transfer, but if that is the only situation in which the vehicle has excessive weight transfer, then the anti-roll bars should be adjusted first.

Firm spring rate makes the steering more predictable and car more stable.

Spring rate also determines how well the car rides over changes in terrain, especially at high speed.

Note: this is not to be confused with sudden shock impact (which really falls to the dampers to absorb). I never recommend setting FRONT spring rate under 50% (halfway) in any kind of terrain with perhaps the exception being Greece. Doing so makes the front end too soft and the car’s steering (and reaction) will be unpredictable. You can see in the example it is set right at the halfway point (my personal minimum) because of the rough, always-changing, terrain. This also keeps the car from springing up and “jumping” off a bump or spike in elevation. If this was a tarmac or cement example, the spring rate would be firmer.

Increasing Spring Stiffness will result in quicker, more responsive handling, and allow the car to run lower for better aerodynamics. However, this can also both decrease tire grip, and increase tire wear.

Decreasing Spring Stiffness will make the chassis move around a little more, allowing it to maintain better contact with the track surface on bumpy tracks and increasing mechanical grip. However, this will require higher ride heights which, in turn, will decrease aerodynamic grip in higher speed turns.

The spring settings should also be adjusted if other changes are made to the vehicle’s center of gravity or general handling. As a quick guideline, a lowered vehicle needs equally stiffer springs and stiffer dampers to retain some turning ability. Besides that, spring firmness is very much up to driver preference.

Soft spring settings induce more front-to-rear body roll in the softened side. In other words, soft springs increase weight transfer as the result of braking and acceleration. This causes more drastic changes in traction as the vehicle leans forward and backward.

Firm springs reduce body roll and weight transfer. Stiffening the springs may reduce braking ability by reducing weight shift, so be ready to slightly increase the pressure (or hit the brakes harder). Reducing body roll may also alter grip levels under throttle and breaking; expect some very noticeable handling changes. Firm springs also resist more of the front-rear balance changes on inclines.

Firm springs can create a more stable and predictable driving platform, but if the ride height is also high, it can cause the vehicle to “snap” upright after weight transfers. “Too high” and “too firm” is entirely vehicle dependent. Setting up a predictable, consistent, stiff suspension vehicle requires some experimentation.

Dirt Rally 2.0 Hint: Firm springs will improve body stability, but bump absorption is reduced. Soft springs will reduce body stability, but bump absorption is improved.
WRC 8 Hint: (Springs) Reduced spring stiffness [-] is better and more stable on uneven surfaces, while increasing spring stiffness [+] allows for greater speed on flat roads.

6.2.3. Front Anti-Roll Bar (Sway Bar)

Adjustment of the Anti-Roll Bar allows you to control the amount of lateral chassis roll the car has when going through a turn. Roll bars are there to reduce chassis roll and transfer force from the inside tire to the outer (in a turn).

If made too stiff, the inside wheel will lose grip, such as when exiting a turn at high speed.

The front anti-roll bar (ARB) exists to limit vehicle roll from left to right or right to left. In general, a firm anti-roll bar makes the car more predictable by making the vehicle more rigid. A firm anti-roll bar forces energy to pass through the vehicle instead of absorbing it by rocking on its frame.

The front ARB can be used in a similar fashion to the front suspension. Both settings will have a similar effect on the overall vehicle characteristics. That said, you can combine a loose anti-roll bar with a tight suspension (or vice versa) to create some hybrid setups. The best way to set the front ARB is usually the same as your spring setting or a little firmer. Alternatively, if you are using a tight suspension but you are concerned with the inside wheels coming off the ground, think about using a slightly looser ARB to make sure the inside wheels stay down. (Note: Most racing sims allow the car to turn easier with a LOOSE ARB. For whatever reason, DR cars turn relatively the same whether using a loose or firm front ARB.)

Increasing the stiffness of the Anti-Roll Bar will keep the car more level in a turn and sharpen cornering response but can potentially cause the inside wheels to lift off the ground in high-load corners.

Decreasing the stiffness and running the Anti-Roll Bar softer will let the car roll more, increasing mechanical grip as more weight transfers to the outside tires through a turn.

The Anti-Roll Bars are a useful chassis balancing tool. More roll resistance at the front (stiffer front and softer rear bars) can cause understeer, while more roll resistance at the rear can cause oversteer. A good rule of thumb for race cars is to set the Anti-Roll Bars such that the inside front tire is just barely touching the track surface during high cornering loads.

For faster and smoother tracks, running stiffer Anti-Roll Bars can help maximize the aerodynamic grip by providing stable ride heights. For slower, bumpier, tighter tracks, running softer Anti-Roll Bars will increase mechanical grip.

Note that an ARB only works when one wheel is either higher or lower than the other; it’s aim is to try and keep things level. And this is great for performance and road cars but it’s not always ideal for AWDs which when you’re off-road will want as much wheel travel as possible. Obviously, the whole point of a sway bar is to try and maintain an even weight distribution from one side to the other.

Stiffer bars increase the amount of bump transfer, which can cause some instability in bumpy sections of the road. They also greatly reduce body sway (and restrict the ability to transfer weight). Extremely stiff roll bars can cause the inside wheel to lift or lose traction extremely sharp turns.

Softer bars decrease the amount of bump transfer and may allow the inner wheel to get more traction than possible with a stiffer setting. They also increase body sway. Extremely stiff roll bars can cause the inside wheel to lift or lose traction extremely sharp turns.
The relationship between the stiffness of the front and rear ARBs greatly affects the vehicle’s overall handling.

A stiffer front and softer rear allow for greater weight transfer in the back than the front. This encourages the front end to grip and encourages the back wheels to slide. This is how most FWD vehicles are adjusted by default.

Dirt Rally 2.0 Hint: A strong setting will resist roll but could lift the inside wheel and overload the outside wheel resulting in loss of traction. A weak setting will allow more roll but transfer of bumps to the opposite wheel will be reduced

WRC 8 Hint: Regulates the car’s anti-roll bars. A hard setting [+] allows for more precise driving at the expense of stability. A soft setting [-] increases stability but reduces precision.

6.2.4. Front Camber Angle

The front camber angle will dictate the grip of the front wheels when turning. The more negative camber angles the better the vehicle will grip when turning. However, too negative camber angle will remove significant acceleration and braking traction. (You are decreasing touch area of the wheel to ground like you are going on top on a cycle tires) The best bet is to leave the front camber angle on the default setting (usually -.50 or so). Your front and back camber angles should usually match unless you are trying some hybrid setup. Don’t ever use positive camber. Don’t ever use maximum negative camber.

• 0 degrees camber is when this imaginary line is in square with the road.
• Positive camber occurs when the “middle-lines” are in “V-shape” V+
• Negative camber occurs when the “middle-lines” are in “A-shape” A-

Increasing the negative camber settings on a rally vehicle allows it to use its tires more efficiently while cornering. Because while cornering the outside wheels with negative camber will have more contact area compared to 0 and positive camber or than the inner wheels with also negative camber. Remember; while cornering the most work will be done by the outer wheels, so we let them more friction area for a good grip. This can be an advantage on tarmac stages where there is a lot of cornering involved. If the settings are pushed too high, the vehicle’s braking ability will be affected. Positive camber angle helps to minimize the amount of steering effort. Also, if you’re normally driving on uneven roads or surfaces, then you will want the added stability that positive cambers provide.

Most racing and rally cars run with a certain amount of negative camber. The ever road camber of an average rally stage changes dramatically over time, and even from side to side of the road. For this reason, camber is best adjusted to assist in controlling the vehicle reliably and precisely, rather than maximizing grip over time or in particular situations. This is one system more easily discussed in terms of exact numbers than difference from default settings.

Almost every vehicle should be tuned to start with -.5 to -2.0 camber angle on both front and rear wheels, usually beginning around -1.3.
I highly recommend becoming comfortable with the vehicle’s default settings first. Any changes to camber or toe will cause dramatic changes in how the car handles during turns.

If the vehicle has different camber settings on the front and rear by default, there are two choices. One, make the front and rears symmetrical; this equalizes the base grip for front and rear. Two, preserve the original ratios while adjusting the camber; this keeps more of the original handling feel intact.

Negative camber increases cornering traction and slightly decreases straight line traction. This allows for sharper turns without traction loss, which is most noticeable on paved surfaces. It has a second, more useful effect as well. The increased traction creates a more gradual transition from grip to slide/drift. This effect is noticeable on any surface, though it is most obvious on gravel and dirt. A gradual slide is more controllable and predictable than an instantaneous one.

Positive camber increases straight line traction. This means the vehicle will have less available traction while turning, requiring the driver to slow down more dramatically, or slide. The increased straight-line traction also allows the car to more effectively “push” or “claw” itself towards the direction the wheels are pointed while drifting or sliding. The downside is that the vehicle slides more suddenly and at lower speeds.

The ARBs should be adjusted to reduce bump transfer on extremely bumpy stages, or to add/reduce body sway. Generally, these do not need to be altered.

Body sway is only one aspect of weight transfer. The maximum amount of body roll ARBs allow is directly linked to the maximum amount of weight transfer possible. The spring rate and ride height also effectively reduce the amount of weight that can move from side to side.

Dirt Rally 2.0 Hint: Negative camber improves cornering grip but reduces straight-line traction. Removing camber will reduce cornering grip but increase straight-line traction. Positive camber may reduce steering effort, but overall grip may be reduced.

WRC 8 Hint: Adjusting the car’s camber allows you to set the wheel angle to suit the type of surface. However, if the camber is too pronounced, the tires will wear out quicker and the car will have a harder time approaching bends.

6.2.5. Front Toe Angle

A primary purpose of adjusting toe is to alter how the vehicle responds to the initial steering input. Let’s look specifically at what is happening at the tires as we adjust toe so we can learn more about it. The primary variable that toe will affect is how quickly the car reacts to steering movements right around center.

If the vehicle has toe in at the front, as the driver turns the wheel the more heavily loaded outer tire which is supplying the majority of turning forces will already be generating a force into the corner so the car will respond more quickly and turn in faster. Contrary to popular knowledge, for a given amount of initial steering, toe-in actually causes a car to turn in quicker, not slower.

A side effect of steering forces building quicker however is that there will be a greater self-aligning force on the steering wheel, which will feel more stable to a driver. This is a primary reason why road cars are typically setup with toe-in, as it feels more stable to an average driver that likes a car that tends to track straight and has a very strong centered feeling in the steering.
I don’t ever move the toe angle from 0. There might be some use for it but any kind of toe in makes the car unstable under acceleration and braking. Leave it alone unless you want to experiment with it.

Toe-in (or negative toe angle) causes the vehicle to resist turning or changing directions. In all vehicles, negative front toe causes the front end to “lock in” to a somewhat straight line under heavy throttle.

Front toe-out (or positive toe angle) causes the front end of the vehicle to respond quickly to steering input and changing directions. It also allows for sharper turning angles, although there is no guarantee the vehicle can handle the sharper turning radius without losing traction.

By giving the front wheels a slight toe out angle it is possible to give the vehicle more stability after turning into a corner, however, you will lose some responsiveness in the steering. A slight toe in angle on the front wheels works inversely and will increase the steering response but may cause the vehicle to lose stability after turning into the corner.

On the other hand, if you have a car setup with toe out in the front, the car’s initial turning would be slower for a given amount of initial steering. The outer tire, which is producing the majority of turning force, will have to go past center before it starts building forces in the direction of the turn. The more lightly loaded inner tire, however, will already be creating a turning force into the direction of the corner. So, with the initial turn of the wheel, the net effect turning force will still be in the direction of the corner, but it will be less than with toe-in.

Because of the load transfer and relative importance of the outer tire over the inner in supplying forces, you can change how fast the car initially turns by modifying the initial slip angles. Put simply, toe-out creates a more gradual buildup of turning forces. The side effect of this slower buildup is that the steering will feel lighter and have less self-centering force. To most drivers this will make the car feel more responsive even though technically it is less responsive. Because of this paradox, it’s easy to see where people’s confusion with toe effects stems from.

Realize though that this is simply the tires and steering force response to a given steering wheel movement. The driver can always turn the steering faster or slower to get the exact same turning response provided by a different toe setting. So although a certain toe setting might feel better to some people, a skilled driver will be able to negotiate a corner in virtually the same fashion with several different toe settings by adapting and changing the rate of steering needed at turn-in.

It’s also important to understand that although we usually think about toe’s effect on initial steering, it actually will have an effect anytime a tire is initially building turning forces even if it’s going from one direction to another such as in the middle of a transition or during a correction. Sound familiar? That’s right. Toe settings will primarily have an effect in some of the same situations that dampers will. So, should you tune your toe setting based on going through a slalom as you would with dampers? You might if you are an auto crosser who doesn’t have to worry about long straightaways, but for most road course racing the most important factor in optimizing toe is probably in reducing drag.

Unlike altering damper settings, using toe settings to alter the transient handling of a car can also affect drag. A side effect of using negative camber on the front wheels is that the camber thrust will create a force trying to turn both wheels toward each other in basically the same way as toe-in would. This creates drag on the tires that slows the car down on straights. If you set some toe-out at the front, you can counteract this inward camber thrust force to reduce this drag. This is fairly easily tested by checking straightaway speed in a similar manner to the previous aero/ride height testing. We generally feel that whatever setting produces the least drag and best straightaway speed is the best one. This will most likely be with some minimal amount of toe-out that most drivers seem to prefer from a transient handling standpoint anyway, but even if some adaption to the transient handling is required, the higher straightaway speeds should be a welcome incentive.

So, if you’re having difficulty with turning the car into hairpins, toe-out on the front wheels can help. If the car’s wandering over the road when you want it to go straight, try toeing the front wheels in.

I was able to get increased stability around corners by maxing out negative toe angle on the rear axle, but it seemed to go crazy on the straightaway as soon as a wheel went airborne.

Dirt Rally 2.0 Hint: Toe in in the front increase stability at the cost of responsiveness, however too much can cause the vehicle to understeer. Toe out on the front increases turn in, however this can cause vague steering.

7. Suspension (Rear)

The rear suspension will affect several vehicle characteristics including (but not limited to):
• Energy Transfer (Oversteer)
• Weight Transfer
• Jump Absorption
• Ride Height
• Overall stability on changing terrain
• Rear Grip
The rear suspension has less of an effect on:
• Sudden SHOCK absorption
• Rebound from sudden shock

What does looser rear suspension mean?

In most cases the looser the rear suspension the more the vehicle will rock or sway on its springs and not react to forces acting upon it (i.e. energy transfer, road conditions).

The looser the rear suspension the more the vehicle will allow weight to transfer to the rear of the frame while accelerating or changing direction (Note: an extremely loose rear suspension will ABSORB that energy instead of transferring it to the wheels).

The looser the rear suspension, the more weight will transfer to the rear axle and cause the back end of the car to “dig in” and oversteer less (as above, this has limitations).

The looser the rear suspension the more the vehicle will navigate and absorb changes in terrain and elevation.

The looser the rear suspension, the less chance there is to see an inside wheel lift off the ground.

Suspension is a tricky game to play because loose and firm suspension both have their advantages. It is critical to tune your suspension to the terrain. The rear suspension, like the front, should be set based on the terrain and matched to the differential setting (usually). This means:
• Smooth Terrain (Tarmac, Cement, Light Gravel): Firm to Medium Suspension
• Rough Terrain (Heavy Gravel, Medium Gravel, Snow): Medium to Loosen Suspension

In the front suspension section, I talked about making sure to tune the suspension as stiff as possible without destroying your car. The same applies with the rear but IN GENERAL, the rear suspension should be the SAME as the front or ONE NOTCH looser.
Why one notch looser? First, don’t ever tune the front and rear suspensions more than one click different or you will have a car that is a mess to handle. Second, you can always use a looser suspension in the rear to keep the rear end in contact with the road. There are multiple bumps in Dirt Rally that your front suspension will glide over but cause the rear suspension to spring up. By using a “one notch looser” rear suspension you can keep the car planted to the Earth.

7.1. Rear Suspension Basic Tuning

Fow AWD vehicles keeping front damping and suspension around the middle will be enough for most situations. This creates a balanced vehicle that isn’t too loose but will also absorb most of the road terrain. The rear suspension also “agrees” with the rear differential tuning in that the rear differential has some moderate locking power. In gravel you can generally use a moderate/strong amount of locking power because rear end oversteer is desired. Leave the suspension moderate enough to absorb the terrain.

On tarmac or smooth terrain, the rear suspension basic slider should almost certainly be firmer. Don’t leave the suspension loose when on cement, asphalt, etc.

7.2. Rear Suspension Advanced Tuning

For an AWD rear suspension on medium/rough gravel road using advanced settings is like middle spring rate, little weaker ARB, -0.5 Camber angle with 0 Toe.

The overall “theme” of the rear suspension, in this case, is to make sure it is always in contact with the road (especially since this is rough gravel terrain). I want the car to be pushing from the back end as much as possible and I don’t want it jumping up off the road when I hit bumps, holes or ditches.

7.2.1. Rear Ride Height

Ride height affects all kinds of stuff in the real world such as bump steer, wheel geometry, etc. All those things are important, but probably do not pertain to the Dirt world. What they did tell us is that it does affect suspension travel and that it might adversely give the car a high CG (center of gravity). This setting sets the baseline for everything else and thus may have the greatest impact on handling for any particular track.

The default setting is almost always too high. You can usually afford to bump it down by one or two clicks. The lower the car is to the ground, the easier it is to control since the center of gravity is lower. The general rule of thumb is to use a high ride height on rough terrain and a low ride height on smooth terrain. It is important to note the ride height dictates your total suspension travel. If you lower the suspension too much, the car will constantly slam the bump stops when coming off large jumps or when hitting ditches, terrain, etc.

Dirt Rally 2.0 Hint: A low ride height helps reduce body-roll and improves overall stability, however, reduces suspension travel. High ride height will improve handling over rougher terrain at the cost of increased body-roll.

WRC 8 Hint: (Ground Clearance) The distance of the body of the car above the ground influences stability and road holding. Reduce height [-] on smooth roads and increase it [+] on bumpy roads to help the suspension do its work.

7.2.2. Rear Spring Rate

When it comes to springs, every car will have its own natural frequency. When highway driving, you’ll see cars that have no dampers (shocks) bounce up and down forever after a bump. This happens not only because of the springs, but as a function of the tires & their pressure as well (they act as an added spring). In the high-end racing world, they’ll check setups to different frequency and amplitude rates. I was able to watch my car go through a test one time (not for racing) and you could see rates which didn’t cope so well. The wheel/suspension would react harmonically and move around more. This is a little over the top though, and for a different discussion.

For tuning suspensions at a given weight you have to gauge your stage, set ride height, match your spring to your tire (which we don’t do here), then set your main damper settings, then your fast settings. It all goes downhill from there.

Adjust the front and rear Spring Rates to find the right balance for the track, the car, and your personal driving style. Having a softer rear decrease oversteer but having it too soft could make it feel lazy and reluctant to rotate through a corner. It’s generally best to adjust the front and rear Spring Rates together.

We can make some rough assumptions:

For Monte Carlo, we want to set Ride Height low and Spring Rate firm.

For Bidno Moorland, we want to set Ride Height high and Spring Rate soft.

Unlike the front suspension (where I recommended almost never using a spring rate under 50%), the rear suspension can be under the 50% mark. As you can see in the example, I have softened up the back end to deal with the gravel and dig in instead of spinning out.

The stiffer the rear spring rate, the more that weight transfer will create oversteer and swing the back end out. Think of it like a whip. An extremely stiff rear spring rate will cause the back end to “whip” out when energy transfers to the back end. A softer rear suspension will cause the rear tires to dig in (to a point).

There is a balancing act here. Too soft and the car turns into a marshmallow (bad). Too stiff and oversteer will be your nightmare, especially in an RWD vehicle.

A good tip to managing the gross oversteer in RWD: soften the rear spring.

Remember, your front and rear suspension should never be more than one or two clicks different otherwise the vehicle will not handle properly. If racing on tarmac or hard/smooth terrain use a stiffer spring rate than what the picture shows.

Dirt Rally 2.0 Hint: Firm springs will improve body stability, but bump absorption is reduced. Soft springs will reduce body stability, but bump absorption is improved.

WRC 8 Hint: (Springs) Reduced spring stiffness [-] is better and more stable on uneven surfaces, while increasing spring stiffness [+] allows for greater speed on flat roads.

7.2.3. Rear Anti-Roll Bar

Like the rear suspension, the rear ARB should be set to match the terrain and vehicle strategy. In general, the ARB can be used in conjunction with the suspension to set how much “play” or amount of frame rocking you want from the vehicle. Also like the rear spring rate, the rear ARB can be used to control the amount of “whip” that occurs when energy transfers to the back end.

By allowing the frame to rock, the car is less responsive but less oversteer occurs, especially if the rear differential has a lot of locking power. In rough gravel, the rear ARB is somewhat loose. This keeps the back end under control, but it isn’t so loose that the car is completely unstable. As stated before, the general strategy is to get some oversteer going but keep that oversteer in check. If this was a tarmac or hard surface example, the rear ARB would likely be stiffer. A very stiff rear ARB means the inside wheels can lift off the ground and thus the rear differential will need some locking power to make sure the differential doesn’t spin out.

Anti-roll bars may belong near the top of the list because they are going to be the primary way that a driver adjusts the car’s balance and will be one of the most frequently adjusted settings. Some cars even allow these to be adjusted directly from within the cockpit. Anti-roll bars don’t directly add or take away grip; they simply shift how the load is distributed among the tires during cornering. This causes a balance shift because of a tire’s load sensitivity. You can accomplish the same balance shift through spring and roll center changes, but those are harder to modify usually. Understand that any of these changes can also cause the car to handle bumps differently as well as changing the car’s overall roll stiffness. This can change the camber angle the tires corner at so any change in anti-roll bars might require a camber adjustment as well.

Overall roll stiffness will also cause the car to feel different in transient handling with greater overall roll stiffness causing the car to respond faster. So, if you like the way a car feels and you have good camber settings, make sure you make even adjustments front and rear to keep the overall stiffness the same. If you soften the front, make sure you stiffen the rear proportionately, and vice versa. This allows you to make balance changes without the necessity of making other changes to the car’s suspension to compensate.

If you move the car closer to neutral balance you are increasing the car’s overall grip potential. Any adjustment that moves a car toward greater understeer or oversteer lowers its overall grip potential. It’s also important to pay attention to where you ideally want this more neutral maximum grip handling to be though. Car balance will change due to track variations as well as driver induced changes such as braking or going to the throttle. A driver’s car control skill and preference will generally always remain the overriding factor over the desired car balance. A novice driver will typically want a very stable car that understeers readily and gives them confidence to push their limits. As a driver’s skill progresses, they will want to shift the balance toward less understeer as this will increase the maximum grip a car can achieve and allow faster lap times.

If you go extreme with these settings, you will finally end up with at least one of your wheels have zero load thus no grip. That zero-load tire will be locked up easily and will spin under acceleration.

These setting should be made at the end of your settings to balance your car.

Front and rear ARBs should never be different each other

For AWD and RWD vehicles, softening the front ARB can increase the vehicle’s ability to turn in sharply, quickly, and without losing traction. The downside is this may change the overall balance of the vehicle slightly, making it slightly difficult to control in low/no traction situations until the new handling is learned or the tuning adjusted elsewhere.

For RWD vehicles, softening the rear ARB can make the rear end turn in more sharply and respond more quickly in turns. This also makes the vehicle more susceptible to sliding via slalom and flick maneuvers. This is a common adjustment to make on the 60s Mini Cooper. The F2 Kit Cars are tuned for a softer rear ARB by default.

A softer front and stiffer rear restrict weight transfer in the rear and while allowing the front to turn further in than the front before losing traction. This also encourages the front end to grip, but it discourages the back wheels from sliding. It can introduce a “floaty” feeling (for lack of a better term) in the front end only. This kind of adjustment is common on RWD vehicles, though not everyone has this ratio by default.

If the anti-roll bars are softened or stiffened more than single mark, the spring settings for the same part of the car (front or rear) will likely need adjusted as well. Firm springs can counteract the increased body roll from soft anti-roll bars. Soft springs can re-introduce some body roll into a vehicle with stiff roll-bars, if desired.
Stiffer bars increase the amount of bump transfer, which can cause some instability in bumpy sections of the road. They also greatly reduce body sway (and restrict the ability to transfer weight). Extremely stiff roll bars can cause the inside wheel to lift or lose traction extremely sharp turns.

Softer bars decrease the amount of bump transfer and may allow the inner wheel to get more traction than possible with a stiffer setting. They also increase body sway. Extremely stiff roll bars can cause the inside wheel to lift or lose traction extremely sharp turns.

Dirt Rally 2.0 Hint: A strong setting will resist roll but could lift the inside wheel and overload the outside wheel resulting in loss of traction. A weak setting will allow more roll but transfer of bumps to the opposite wheel will be reduced

WRC 8 Hint: Regulates the car’s anti-roll bars. A hard setting [+] allows for more precise driving at the expense of stability. A soft setting [-] increases stability but reduces precision.

7.2.4. Rear Camber Angle

As with the front, the default camber angle is usually appropriate. The more negative camber you add, the better the tires bite in the corners but the more they slip when going straight. As with most things, it’s a balancing act. If the stage features a lot of corners and tight maneuvers, adding a bit more negative camber can help.

WRC 8 Hint: Adjusting the car’s camber allows you to set the wheel angle to suit the type of surface. However, if the camber is too pronounced, the tires will wear out quicker and the car will have a harder time approaching bends.

7.2.5. Rear Toe Angle

Rear toe settings will primarily have an effect on how quickly the car rotates (yaws) during a turn. Rear toe-in causes the more heavily loaded outside tire to start with a slight slip angle so the buildup in forces are going to start sooner and the maximum yaw for a given amount of steering will be less. For both reasons the car will feel more stable during cornering. The initial response is a much more significant effect than the final yaw achieved though.

Rear toe-out will have the opposite effect and increase the rate of initial rotation and final yaw for a given amount of steering. But unlike front toe settings, the effects of rear toe are always going to be present, because while a driver can compensate for front toe settings by changing the rate at which they turn the steering wheel, the rear toe settings are going to directly affect the attitude of the car in a corner. Also, just like front toe, rear toe settings are going to primarily affect the car in transients. While the overall maximum yaw for a corner will be greater and thus require less steering to negotiate the same turn, the difference will be fairly small.

Rear toe out settings will be felt primarily during a fast-initial turn in. While this effect can be minimized with a skilled driver, the change in yaw velocity as the tire crosses over center in a chicane or correction will be unavoidable.
Generally, if a driver is serious about tuning a vehicle to their driving preferences, a predictable, neutral handling base is desired.

I highly recommend becoming comfortable with the vehicle’s default settings first. Any changes to camber or toe will cause dramatic changes in how the car handles during turns. Positive rear toe can cause on-throttle to oversteer, but it also allows for sharper turning angles.

All adjustments should be made in tenths (-0.1, -0.2, -0.3). This is an extremely sensitive part of the vehicle. Small changes equate to large differences in control.

Negative rear toe (or negative toe angle) causes the rear end to slightly resist spinning or sliding. This can cause the rear to stick to the road more effectively as the throttle increases. This is often desirable for paved surfaces.

Rear toe-out (or positive toe angle) causes the back end of the vehicle to swing or slide out more quickly while accelerating or braking. Even +0.2 degrees of toe out can change a tame RWD or AWD vehicle into a drift machine.

For most cars, extra yaw velocity is not preferable, so it’s almost universally understood that a car will want to be setup with some amount of toe-in at the rear, not only for the increased stability, but also because the tire’s slip angles will normally be more optimized for grip during cornering. The one possible negative side effect of toe-in at the rear would be drag so it would probably be beneficial to do drag testing with various toe-in and toe-out settings at the rear to see how sensitive the tires are to changes. Some tires will tolerate more toe without a noticeable change in drag, but only testing will tell.

Leave this at 0 unless you are experimenting or trying some type of hybrid setup. Increasing the rear toe angle of the vehicle will have a more pronounced effect on the vehicle’s handling. When adjusting the rear toe angle, it is wise to make small adjustments and then test the feel of the vehicle to see how it has affected it. Generally, you should avoid to toe-out the rear wheels as this can make the car very unstable. Because while cornering you will have a weight transfer on the outside wheels that is already pointing outwards and this transfer will result a slip.

At the rear, a touch of toe-in can help tame an oversteering car.

Toe-out at the rear will make your car unstable and undriveable. (Never do that)

A little toe-in at the rear will help for high speed stability.

Dirt Rally 2.0 Hint: Toe in on the rear increases stability and enables you to get better drive out of the corners. Toe out on the rear increase vehicle rotation mid corner, however too much can cause oversteer.
WRC 8 Hint: –

8. Dampers (Shock Absorbers)

Note: This section covers both front and rear dampers.

Unless a dampening structure is present, a car spring will extend and release the energy it absorbs from a bump at an uncontrolled rate. The spring will continue to bounce at its natural frequency until all the energy originally put into it is used up. A suspension built on springs alone would make for an extremely bouncy ride and, depending on the terrain, an uncontrollable car.

The damper’s job is to control the motion of the spring and manage the weight transfer and shock loads of the car. Without a damper, in short, the car cannot maintain a constant contact patch to increase grip to a maximum. Therefore, the damper controls how much the spring can oscillate and returns it to a stationary position a fast and efficiently as possible once the spring has done its job. A damper is an acceleration reactive component. This means that it is only effective when the damper accelerates or decelerates. If it is operated at a constant velocity it will not work effectively.

We’ve mentioned that spring stiffness determines how far spring will compress(bump) or expands (rebound) under a given load. On the other hand, damper stiffness determines how fast that compression or expansion will occur. Springs will determine how much weight will rest on each corner of the car as we drive. Dampers determine how fast the weight will be transferred around as we drive.

A damper only works when the car enters a corner, exits a corner or experiences a bump or droop in the road, or the car lifts or down like in a bump or a crest on the track or due to acceleration or braking.

It is not active when the car is driving smoothly down a road in a straight line or in the middle of a corner when the weight transfer has fully occurred, and the car is settled and cornering in one direction.

It is important to know when a damper is active, such as corner entry and exit, so they can be tuned and adjusted correctly according to driver feedback and where on track the car needs adjusting for.

Another purpose for the damper is controlling how fast the spring is allowed to compress(bump) and extend(rebound). This is referred to as bump and rebound and is very important.

Controlling how fast the damper can compress or extend controls how much the car rolls in and out of corners which is very useful to tune understeer/oversteer out of the car.

Another purpose of the damper is to act as a shock absorber. In categories like rallying this is even more important where the ground is uneven, and wheel needs to absorb as much shocks form the ground as possible to not jolt the car up.

To sum up about the dampers is that; this adjustment that can be either extremely important or almost negligible depending on the car, track, and driver. In racing however, dampers are now the primary item controlling the transient handling of a vehicle.

As a track contains more and more bumps or quick transitions, dampers become increasingly important. The quicker the suspension must move the more effect dampers will have. This could be from track bumps, quick transitions such as autocross slaloms, or even quick corrections done by the driver. For this reason, off-road racing teams spend considerable amounts of time on damper development because they are a huge part of the performance package.

On a smooth track with no quick transitions however, the dampers become much less important.

While you can do many things with damper tuning that will affect balance in different phases of cornering, in general it is probably best to focus your efforts on using the dampers to improve the tires’ road holding grip and tune the transient handling to your personal tastes.

If the track is very bumpy or has curbs that will gain you a good bit of time by going over them then tuning the dampers to accommodate these should be your number one priority because you will be increasing grip. Remember grip is our primary goal.

In general, to improve road holding over bumps you will want to soften dampers up to the point that you get no more than one oscillation after a big bump.

Soften damper means that the car goes to full compression during a bump, and then it can go to full extension before finally settling back to its normal ride height. If you get a pogo effect because of a bump, then you need to either stiffen the suspension or avoid the bump because it’s too big for the suspension to handle. If the dampers aren’t able to control the suspension and you get big tire load variations as the car is bouncing you will be decreasing grip.

The other end of this compromise is that as you soften up dampers to handle bumps and curbs better you are slowing down how quickly load transfers which changes your transient handling by slowing down how quickly the car reacts to inputs. Some drivers prefer a slower reacting car, and some prefer a quicker reacting car.

If a track is smooth enough that you don’t have to tune primarily for bumps, then you are freer to use dampers to alter this.

Theoretically, the quicker a car reacts, the faster it can be as the tires load up and go to maximum grip faster. This is generally a small difference and only if a driver is skilled enough to take advantage of the quicker loading will it be faster. In addition, this will primarily only be a benefit during track sections where a quick tire loading is required which is usually only in the center of a chicane as a driver goes from one direction to the other quickly. During a normal corner, the slower transitions cause damper settings to make much less of a difference.
Think of a damper as a syringe filled with hydraulic fluid and your thumb is the wheel. At a certain point, it doesn’t matter how hard you squeeze, your rate will be roughly dictated by the orifice or tip where the fluid leaves. If you want to get the fluid out faster, you open the hole up. Congratulations, you have now adjusted your “bump” setting to softer.

Dampers enhance and/or change the way the car acts within its suspension. They are also critical to shock and bump response. If you ever hear people say, “shock absorbers”, that is the same as the damper. But wait, there’s more! They act to limit the spring action of the vehicle suspension. If there were no dampers on a vehicle, it would continuously rock and roll on the springs without ever settling down.

One other factor to keep in mind is how a car reacts when responding to quick driver inputs during a recovery. Some of the fastest suspension movements can be when a driver is trying to recover a car from a big oversteer and this is probably the time you want the biggest understeer safety net. So for extra stability, increasing the front damper stiffness and softening the rear more than you might like during controlled cornering might be a benefit especially to a more novice driver who tends to be a little sloppier with their inputs and is making big corrections more often.

For stages with high-speed, winding turns like Pikes, you want your rates to be firm/slow. You don’t want your suspension to sag unpredictably fast to one side -sending you oversteering off track. When letting off or gunning the throttle, you want your springs tight and dampers moving things slowly under the twitchy environment.

Winding, low speed gravel is another matter though. The car needs to use its travel (which you have hopefully already set up with ride height and springs) to manage constantly changing camber and you want the car to keep the wheels moving up and down while the chassis is relatively stationary (hint: higher rate, faster fluid flow, softer settings). The following pic is a nice example of good articulation.

The two most common adjustable aspects of a damper are bump and rebound. Bump adjustment is adjusting how fast the damper can compress. Rebound adjustment is adjus

8.1. Basic Damper Tuning

If you want to get set up and racing as quick as possible, a safe bet is to simply put the dampers in the middle, regardless of suspension setting. This is a good starting point that provides stability for the car while also providing some shock absorption as well.

If the terrain is rough (e.g. Greece), loosen the dampers a bit. When it comes to “hybrid” stages like Finland or Sweden (smooth gravel, snow) you can afford to firm up the dampers while still using a loose suspension. The point being you want your dampers to be firm, when possible, but not so firm you lose control of the car.

Damper settings only come into play when your suspension is in transition between expanded and compressed state. It is a tool for fine tuning the handling that you´ll only feel in specific moments, like direction changes, right after starting to brake, right after hitting the throttle, etc. If your car has poor balance in other moments (not transitions), look somewhere else.

The general rule to follow is that if you aren’t using the dampers much to absorb terrain, you can set them relatively stiff. The roughest stages in Dirt Rally are Greece and Wales. In my experience those are the only two locations where you will use relatively loose dampers (lower than 50%).

Keep fast settings lower than the equivalent slow value. I.e.: slow front left bump must be higher than fast front left bump. Also keep it symmetrical. It´s nice to have a car that reacts the same in right and left-handers (not all sims have this kind of tuning).

8.2. Advanced Damper Tuning

Advanced damper tuning is very complex and there are different ways to set it, depending on the vehicle, driving style and terrain. In this section, I will give recommendations but note that when using the advanced settings, you may find something that works better for you.

If the vehicle feels difficult to control over bumpy sections, adjust the dampers 1 mark softer. If the bumps only greatly affected control after lowering the ride height, the driver should first soften the dampers. If this does not solve the issue, the ride height may need to be raised to prevent loss of control.

On paved surfaces, if the ride height is lowered, then the springs should be firmed, and the dampers firmed alongside. This helps prevent bottoming out. Keep in mind it will make the vehicle twitchier in bumpy sections.

Of course these all ignore the most obvious and common solution; let off the throttle. Bumps are most common in Germany and Greece. Soft dampers can greatly increase the feeling of control without altering the vehicle’s handling otherwise.

If car feels boat-like and sluggish reacting to inputs; bump up all damper settings by similar amounts. You´ll get better response. Can be useful for road cars, combined with harder springs. If car feels unpredictable, it reacts very violently to inputs or bumps; tone down all damper settings by similar amounts. You´ll get a bit more road compliance and a more progressive response.

The car is on rough, uneven terrain and I want the dampers to provide even absorption and extension every time. Let’s discuss what each setting does within the following sections.

8.2.1. Bump

Bump is the “normal” shock control (and spring limitation) that is always in effect (unless fast bump comes into play). A firm bump will resist compression, add stability, and add traction (better for smooth, safe terrain). A soft bump will allow more compression and absorb holes, ditches, jumps, etc. Write this next part down: Just because there are jumps in the stage does NOT mean you need very soft bump. In fact, a lot of soft bump will likely allow the car to slam off the bump stop. Jumping is tricky because you need some absorption but too soft and you’ll break the car by bottoming out.

Increasing the absorption of the dampers will make the vehicle feel more rigid whilst decreasing this value will make the vehicle feel softer. If you set the value of the dampers too high the car will tend to bounce off the road. So, if your car is shaky or bouncy after bumps, you need to soften your dampers and/or suspension (springs), but if you set the value too low the damper will fail to absorb bumps within the road causing the bottom of the vehicle to hit the track surface.

Harder suspension springs (look above) require stronger dampers. Adjusting them on their own producing an effect like that of adjusting suspension stiffness, but where they’re really effective is in tweaking the car’s behavior in transitions: turning into the corner and coming out.

If you are oversteering, you can reduce the damper in the rear/increase the damper in the front. Anti-roll (sway bar) can also be applied stiffer in the front and looser in the rear.

  • Rough Terrain (e.g. Greece): Softer Bump
  • Smooth Terrain: Medium to Firm Bump
  • Fast Gravel on Smooth Terrain (or Snow): Medium to Firm Bump

Dirt Rally 2.0 Hint: Firm bump rate will aid stability, but absorption of bumps can be reduced. Soft bump rate will be better at absorbing bumps, but stability can be reduced.

WRC 8 Hint: (Shock Absorber Compression) Affect the speed of shock absorber compression. Setting it to hard [+] gives precision at the expense of stability, while soft [-] increases stability but decreases precision.

8.2.2. Fast Bump

Think of this as by-pass mode for all your rocks and bumps. Back to the syringe, let’s say we frequently burst the chamber from over pressurization (hit a rock). So, we add a safety valve that opens ONLY when the pressure spikes past a certain internal pressure. Remember that even though the rate which the fluid flows through the main nozzle is about the same, the internal pressure in the chamber will continue to increase as we add more force.

When this special bypass valve opens, all the sudden the syringe moves faster, because now we have two ports open instead of one and more flow (more RATE).

The same goes when we hit a rock. The damper goes into bypass mode because of the major pressure spike, allowing much higher flowrate from the additional orifice (less resistance to flow, the wheel comes up faster). This is a simplification of real-world setups using shim stacks and a nitrogen cylinder.

Think of the “Fast Bump Threshold” setting as the minimum pressure required to go into bypass mode. That’s what will open the bypass valve. The “size” of the valve/port is your Fast Bump setting. It will determine how fast the fluid will move.

Remember that the threshold setting only controls WHEN the valve opens, the fast bump controls rate AFTER the valve opens.

In practical terms, you do not want the threshold to open during your normal turns. You want it to turn on ONLY when you hit the rock, bump, or jump…otherwise all sorts of unpredictable stuff will happen to your handling. It might feel as if your suspension is fading.

Fast Bump only comes into play when the damper COMPRESSES FASTER than the fast bump threshold. Think of it like this: Damper #1 is always working and damper #2 overrides it when it comes into play, based on the fps rule. The total sum effect is that you can have two different bump strategies on the same damper! My recommendation here (if you even choose to set it differently) is to use a slightly softer fast bump than the regular bump setting. A softer fast bump acts like an emergency bump setting.

The damper will only go soft when it needs to, otherwise it will stay stiff. I have a dozen setups where I choose the bump setting and then I place the fast bump slightly lower than the regular bump. This is especially effective when you want a stiff regular bump, but you need an “oh %#$&” fast bump, just in case you come off a jump wrong or hit some rough terrain. In the image above, however, I want the fast bump to react the same as the regular bump because the terrain is rough, and my regular bump is already low/medium. I didn’t need anything lower.
Fast bump is needed for stages with lots of jumps with hard landings: your normal bump and rebound settings will contend with most of the track, but for those hard landings fast bump will kick in and save your suspension.

A softer fast bump setting can alleviate the loss of control. A firmer fast bump setting (or higher ride height) may be needed to prevent bottoming out in low vehicles.

“Fast” in this case is referring to vertical wheel speed, not the car’s speed. What this adds is the capability to have an extra damping force applied when the wheel is moving very fast upwards (landing from a jump, for example, or on rough surfaces.

You should make the strength of the fast bump higher than your bump setting and make the speed activation setting high enough that the fast bump setting is not being used all the time.

Slow Bump and rebound settings must be different from each other or you will miss a potential tweak.

Dirt Rally 2.0 Hint: Fast bump controls how the damper handles impact from jumps & large bumps. Soft fast bump allows greater absorption, but vehicle may hit the bump stop reducing stability. Firm fast bump may prevent this, but bump absorption is reduced.
WRC 8 Hint: –

8.2.3. Fast Bump Threshold

This ties directly with Fast Bump. Think of this as the “sensitivity” or tolerance of the damper before it chooses to use fast bump instead of regular bump. By setting the fast bump threshold at a high fps, the fast bump will almost never come into play and the car will almost always be riding on the regular bump setting. By setting it low, the fast bump will almost always come into play when the tire hits something or you come off a jump. My general recommendation on this is to place it in the middle if you want it to kick in on jumps, rocks, ditches etc. For example, on Finland I use a stiff regular bump BUT my fast bump threshold is low enough that the threshold will trigger and kick in a softer fast bump. If you are looking for a good starting point, the middle position is probably best.

Dirt Rally 2.0 Hint: (Bump Zone Division) If an impact on the wheel causes the damper to compress slower than this rate, the standard bump rate will take effect. If it causes the damper to compress faster than this rate, the fast bump rate will take effect.

8.2.4. Rebound

A damper not only can control the rate the fluid leaves the chamber (high speed turn entry) but also how fast it’s allowed to return and refill (turn exit). Return force (not rate) is determined by the following:

• Your main spring/helper spring pushing back down.
• Weight of your wheel
• Other factors such as damper gas preload.

If your wheel is allowed to return too fast, your springs (or worse, your bottomed out chassis) may be allowed to return at high velocity before you clear your smooth hill, sending you flying instead of going “through” the hill. You want to keep your springs under control.
Conversely, if your rebound is set too firm (slow fluid returns back, slow rate, etc.). Your wheel will not contact the ground after you pass the crest of your hill and you’ll find yourself spinning air guitar instead of shredding dirt.

Rebound is how quickly the damper will allow the suspension to expand AFTER impact. A soft rebound allows the wheel to drop faster and stay in contact with the road. A soft rebound also causes the car to sway more on spring extension and thus can shift or push the car in an odd direction. Firm rebound adds control and stability but keeps the wheels off the ground longer, making it so the car cannot steer or react to input. The rebound strategy almost always follows the bump strategy. For example, a firm rebound is almost always used with a firm bump. A soft rebound is almost always used with a soft bump. On the rough stages like Greece and Wales, a soft bump is desirable since it helps keep the wheels in contact with the road. As you can probably guess, in a place like Germany a medium or firm rebound is more desirable.

Rebound settings are also very important as they affect the decompression of the damper. However, you should avoid using too soft settings.

If there will be no bump no rebound to happen. We want rebound to make springs come its original position as soon as possible but not too fast to make the car off the ground. Rebound damping should usually be set at around 2/3rds of bump.

8.2.5. Fast Rebound

The fast rebound and fast rebound threshold work the same way as your normal rebound, except instead of dialing it in for large rolling hills and camber, you are tuning for rocks and jumps to be expected on the track. The goal of this setting is to maintain maximum wheel contact with the ground after sharp impacts and ripples in the road. If the wheel takes too long to hit the road, you’ll find yourself loosing precious time not applying power to the ground.

Fast rebound is a little tricky to understand but it basically goes like this: Fast rebound is used when the rebound of the damper bypasses the fps threshold set on fast rebound threshold. This means you can have a damper that, in theory, goes into fast bump mode but does not go into fast rebound mode.

How should you use fast rebound?

In most cases you want opposite usage as compared to fast bump or don’t use it at all (set it the same as your base rebound setting). What I mean is that IF your fast rebound should come into play (very hard hit off a jump, ditch, or hole), you want some stability. Set the fast rebound a bit firmer than the regular rebound. This is essential to keep the car from, quite literally, springing up and off the course.

Dirt Rally 2.0 Hint: (Slow Rebound) firm rebound rate will resist damper extension for more stability but the wheel may take longer to contact the ground. Soft rebound rate will result in less resistance on extension, but stability may be reduced.
WRC 8 Hint: (Shock Absorber Rebound) affect the speed of shock absorber extension setting it hard [+] gives precision at the expense of stability., while setting it soft [-] increases stability but decreases precision.

8.2.6. Fast Rebound Threshold

Most of this setting is explained up in the Fast-Rebound section. Just remember, this setting is different than fast bump threshold and can be used to cause the damper to go into fast rebound mode even if it didn’t go into fast bump. Lowering its value will reserve less room for slow rebound finally you won’t take advanteage of both.

8.2.7. Bump vs. Rebound

Bump settings control how fast the springs will be allowed to compress. The higher the value more resistance and slower the compression. Rebound settings control how fast the springs will be allowed to expand. The higher the value more resistance to expand and slower the expansion.

Bump, or compression, occurs when the shock shaft is being moved into the body. This occurs on the front of a bump, the back of a rut, the right side when turning left, the left side shocks when exiting a left turn, the front under braking and the rear under acceleration.

Rebound, or extension, occurs when the shaft is being pulled from the body. This occurs on backside of a bump, the front of a rut, the left side shocks in a left turn, the right-side shocks exiting a left turn, the front under acceleration and the rear under braking.

8.2.8. Shaft Speeds

How fast the shaft pushes and pulls the piston inside the shock body affects the rate of the shock in bump and rebound. Shock rates change as shaft speed changes, making shock absorbers shaft speed sensitive. The faster the piston or shaft speed, the stiffer the shock is. Shocks work mostly within a range of about 3 inches per second to about 20 inches per second. The lower speeds come into play during weight transfer when tire loads are changing. The higher speeds come into play over bumps and ruts.

8.2.9. Slow Damping (Bump & Rebound)

Slow damping occurs when the springs move at a slow rate like in when we drive car normally and weight shifts around naturally or when we brake (front springs compress, rear spring extend) or accelerate (front springs extend, rear spring compress). So, to sum up; when you accelerate slow rear bump and slow front rebound settings and when you brake slow front bump and slow rear rebound settings will apply. At the very end these will determine how fast weight transfer will occur.

Slow Damping controls the car’s suspension compression in response to driver inputs. It controls the dynamic weight transfer and overall motion of the main chassis relative to the track surface when the car turns, slows, and accelerates. Most fine-tuning of the handling balance will be done with the Slow Damping settings.

Increasing the Slow Bump value will make the car react quicker and sharper in response to driver inputs, resulting in a more responsive car when changing direction.
Too much Slow Bump, however, can reduce mechanical grip, causing more “snappy” behavior. It can also result in a car that is prone to sudden understeer when the front is too stiff, or sudden oversteer when the rear is too stiff.

Slow Rebound Damping controls how the suspension extends back to its normal position after being compressed. Too much or too little Slow Rebound Damping for a given spring rate can cause the tire to lose contact with the road, thereby reducing mechanical grip.
Adjust the front and rear Slow Damping to find the right balance for the type of circuit you’re on, and your own driving style.

Tweak slow settings to tune the car´s response during smooth weight shifts: direction changes, initial braking input, getting back on the power… tweak fast settings to tune the car´s response during intense weight shifts: bumps, high curbs, or rough inputs from you.

8.2.10. Fast Damping (Bump & Rebound)

Fast damping occurs when the springs move at a fast rate like when the car will hit a bump or ditch. Keep in mind the boundary is not clear cut. A huge tank slapper can trigger the fast settings. Also, a bump might not do enough to trigger them. The springs need more freedom to give road compliance going over big bumps.

Fast Bump and Rebound Damping controls the tire reactions over bumps and kerbs. Its job is to keep the rubber on the ground over rapid surface undulations. In bumpy sections of track, too much Fast Bump at the front can cause understeer, too much at the rear can cause oversteer.

To tune Fast Damping, pick a bumpy section of the track. Start with low Fast Bump and Rebound settings, and increase them until the front understeers, then back off a few clicks. Repeat this process for the rear until it oversteers on that bumpy section and, again, back off a few clicks. Now check the car’s response to the rest of the track, and over kerbs. This may require softer settings than the bumpy section: perfection is rare, and compromise is key.

Tune Fast Damping in sync’ with Spring Rate changes. The stiffer the spring, the stiffer the Fast-Rebound setting.

8.2.11. Bump Transition

Bump and Rebound Transition allows for the advanced control of the switch from Slow to Fast Damping, without affecting their damping rates.

Increasing the Bump Transition will make the transition from Slow to Fast Bump longer: Here, the Slow Bump damper rate will act for longer before transitioning to the Fast Bump and provide more overall damping.

Decreasing the Bump transition will make the switch faster: Here, the Slow damper rate will act for a shorter period before switching to the Fast, and result in less overall damping.

If you tune this together with the Slow and Fast Bump, you can set the Slow Bump to a stiffer value with a low Bump Transition rate to achieve a stiffer initial damping, which then drops off quickly. For slower and more mellow initial damping, set the Slow Bump to a softer value, and use a higher transition rate.

8.2.12. Rebound Transition

Rebound Transition allows control of the switch between Slow and Fast Rebound of the dampers, without affecting their damping rates.

Increasing the Rebound Transition will make the transition from Slow to Fast Rebound longer: Here, the Slow Rebound damper rate will act for longer before transitioning to the Fast Rebound, providing more overall damping. Decreasing the Rebound transition will make the switch faster: Here, the Slow Rebound damper rate will act for a shorter period before switching to the Fast, and result in less overall damping.

If tuned together with the Slow and Fast Rebound rates, setting the Slow Rebound to a stiffer value with a low Rebound Transition rate will result in a stiffer initial damping, which then drops off quickly. For slower and more mellow initial damping, set the Slow Rebound to a softer value, and use a higher transition rate.

8.3. Bumps & Rebounds Summary

The rules for Slow Bump/Rebound settings:

If weight transfer is too fast which result in loss of grip, try to increase front and rear and vice versa.

If the car under steers in corner entry and exit, increase rear OR decrease front.

If the car over steers in cover entry and exit, decrease rear OR decrease front.

Fast Bump/Rebound settings:

On a bumpy track where you lack grip over bumps and curbs, try to decrease front and rear.

If the car bounces over bumps resulting in loss of grip, increase front and rear.

If the car under steers over bumps, increase rear OR decrease front.

If the car over steers over bumps, decrease rear OR increase front.

Lower settings –> Dampers offer less resistance, so springs are freer to move as they please
Higher settings –> Dampers “hold” the springs movement down and so stop them reacting as fast

–> Fast/Slow bump should always be different each other or they will have no effect on the car.
–> Fast/Slow rebound should always be different each other or they will have no effect on the car.

Fast Bump – Controls the rapid upward movement of this suspension corner following bumps and curbs. This Bump is described as “Fast” because the damper is moving up(compressing) in a rapid motion. So, this adjustment controls how a tire conforms to the road as it’s negotiating the leading edge-to peak of a bump or road undulation. If you find the car pushing to the outside of the track in a “skating” fashion over bumps, then soften (lower) this setting. If the car floats and changes direction erratically, then stiffen (higher) this setting. When in doubt, go softer.

Slow Bump – Controls the mild UPWARD movement of this suspension corner caused by a driver input (steering, braking, throttle). This Bump is described as “Slow” because the damper is moving up (compressing) in a slow motion. Used to affect chassis balance while we are transitioning into, and out, of the corners. Decreasing this number will speed up how quickly a corner accepts weight transfer while we are transitioning. Increasing will slow it down.

Fast Rebound – Controls the rapid DOWNWARD movement of this suspension corner following bumps and curbs. This Rebound is described as “Fast” because this damper is moving down (extending) in a rapid motion. So, this adjustment controls how a tire conforms to the road as it’s negotiating the peak to trailing edge of a bump or road undulation. If the fast bump setting has been changed, then it’s usually a good idea to change fast rebound in a similar manner.

Slow Rebound – Controls the mild DOWNWARD movement of this suspension corner caused by a driver input (steering, braking, throttle). This Rebound is described as “Slow” because the damper is moving down (extending) in a slow motion. Used to affect chassis balance while transitioning into, and out, of the corners. Decreasing this number will speed up how quickly this corner gives up – or “sheds” – weight transfer while we are transitioning. Increasing this setting will slow it down.

The easiest way to begin to understand dampers is in a straight line, under braking or acceleration:

Under braking, much of the car’s weight will shift from the rear of the car to the front. The front springs will compress while the rear springs will decompress (or rebound). The dampers do the same and will compress (front) and decompress (rear). The faster the front springs are allowed to achieve their most-compressed state, the faster the front tires will have maximum grip for that all-important braking.

A softer compression setting will give the least amount of resistance to the spring compressing, allowing weight to transfer very quickly once the brakes are applied. The rear damper compression setting will have no effect on what happens here, but the rebound will. A greater rebound setting will resist against the rear springs decompressing. If the spring is not allowed to rebound quickly, the rear tires will be somewhat lifted off the ground (exaggerated of course). Softer rebound settings in the rear will allow the rear tires to stay connected with the road and offer more rear-grip during that weight transfer to the front.

Under straight-line acceleration the complete opposite is happening, with the rear dampers compressing and the front dampers decompressing. Surely you will want maximum grip on the rear tires under acceleration, but the front tires may need grip adjustments to prevent understeer oversteer. You can adjust this condition by adjusting how the rear suspension compresses or how the front suspension rebounds.

The same philosophy can be applied laterally (side to side) as well. Long sweeping corners that do not involve large braking or accelerating will shift weight to the left and right of the car. How fast you allow that weight to transfer is up to you and can be adjusted via the left and right dampers, but keep in mind how that will also affect your front to rear damping.

If your car is equipped with fast-damping adjustments, everything above still applies but only when the suspension is in “fast motion”. This is when you are shocking the suspension into movement in a very short time frame. Hitting a curb at speed is forcing your suspension to compress or rebound in a much shorter time frame than normal weight transitions. This is where fast damping comes into the mix.

9. Troubleshooting Your Car

Make your main setup on the below table; up to down order, however for little corrections follow settings down to top. Your settings on an item upper should be followed and compatible by lower setting.

For fixing understeer or oversteer start tweaking from the bottom. But adjust one thing at a time until it reaches its optimum limit for the track.

9.1. Car is slow in Hairpins

Lower the 1st gear ratio

  • Strengthen the rear driving lock
  • Increase rear torque up to 60-70%
  • Strengthen the center viscous differential
  • Increase rear toe angle

9.2. Car slides excessively on corner exit

  • Weaken the rear ARB/Strengthen the front ARB
  • Lower the rear differential brake lock

9.3. Too much oversteer

So rear wheels are getting out of control due to lack of weight on them and decreased independence of two rear wheels. Or Front wheels just holding road much more they have to.

  • Lower the rear differential driving lock percentage
  • Weaken rear ARB and strengthen front ARB
  • Increase negative rear camber angle
  • Stiffen front bump, rebound and soften rear bump and rebound

9.4. Too much understeer

So front wheels are getting out of control due to lack of weight on them and decreased independence of two front wheels. Or rear wheels just holding road much more they have to.

  • Soften the front springs as much as you can
  • Put some brake bias to front
  • Soften front ARBs
  • Increase front toe out
  • Decrease front LSD driving locking

9.5. Low acceleration on cornering

  • Shorten final gear ration
  • Shorten 3rd and 4th gear
  • Lower front LSD Driving lock
  • Raise rear LSD driving lock

9.6. Unresponsive front wheels

  • More negative front camber (don’t exceed -1.5o)
  • Less positive or even negative front toe angle (don’t exceed -0.3o)
  • Soften front damping or stiffen rear damping

9.7. Unstable on bumpy terrain

  • Raise ride height both for front and rear
  • Soften spring rate on both sides
  • Soften fast bump/rebound damping rates
  • Lower fast bump thresholds

9.8. Unstable at braking

  • Shift brake bias to the front (70-75%)
  • Lower brake pressure

9.9. Unresponsive on tarmac

  • Lower ride height
  • Stiffen spring rate
  • Stiffen bump and rebound rates
  • Increase negative front camber
  • Increase positive front toe angle

9.10.RWD car oversteers at the slightest bump or around turns during acceleration

  • Lower the rear differential driving lock percentage
  • Weaken rear ARB and strengthen front ARB
  • increase negative rear camber angle (don’t exceed -1.0o)
  • lower rear Toe Angle (try +0.2o or +0.1o)
  • Try stiffening front bump and rebound and softening rear bump and rebound (don’t go to extremes).

9.11. Troubleshooting Brakes

  • If the vehicle’s back end slides out too much while braking with and without throttle, move the brake bias forward (1 mark).
  • If the vehicle’s front-end understeers while braking heavily BUT turns an appropriate amount while using only engine braking, then move the brake bias rearward slightly (1 mark).
  • If the vehicle’s front-end understeers while braking heavily, AND understeers while engine braking, then the driver has a choice. If the driver moves the brake bias rear 1 mark, it will become easier to slide around corners and rotate while braking more quickly.
  • Another option is to adjust the all braking differentials 1 mark toward loose without touching the brakes. This allows the inside wheel to spin slower than the outside wheel during a turn. This second option lets the car turn and brake more efficiently without affecting anything about how the vehicle transfers weight.

9.12. Considering Damper Settings

  • Understeer at hitting the brakes and turn into corners:
  • Decrease your front bump values or increase your rear rebound values.
  • Oversteer at hitting the brakes and turn into corners:
  • Increase your front bump values or decrease your rear rebound values.
  • Understeer at getting back on the power:
  • Increase your rear bump values or decrease your front rebound values
  • Oversteer at getting back on the power:
  • Decrease your rear bump values or increase your front rebound values.
  • When hitting bumps and curbs the front of the car tends to bounce and skate wide:
  • Decrease your front fast bump values. Can be complemented by decreasing front fast rebound.
  • When hitting bumps and curbs the car tends to change direction and react erratically:
  • Increase your front fast bump values. Can be complemented by increasing front fast rebound.

10. Driving Hints

  • Try to avoid any side slipping, any spinning the wheels, even drifts. Especially on damp/wet tarmac surfaces/hairpins. Maybe it looks very spectacularly but it takes precious fractions of seconds. However, in Australia, for example, you can already use slides.
  • Improve your technique by racing with weakest cars in given category. It’s not difficult to obtain the fastest time on the stage when you’re using the strongest vehicle – you’ll probably rest on your laurels then, but this doesn’t mean at all that your technique was so admirable during that race.
  • Many of players thinks DIRT is a racer in which you can “put a brick on the acceleration pedal” (step on the gas) and then go like a bomb, often playing with a life and death (virtually death, fortunately). Well, that’s not the truth. Sometimes it’s worth to take off your foot from the acceleration pedal, in order to avoid crashing (which often, especially on higher levels of difficulty, leads to the terminal damage and ends your race). Sometimes releasing gas pedal when passing the crest or jump is a sign of consideration, since the vehicle’s suspension may not stand that hard landing after a jump. Similarly, if you have lost in co-pilot’s prompts and you don’t know what to expect on the track in the moment – slow down, or at least release the gas pedal for a while.
  • Gear box: automatic or manual? To be honest, my experience points to the conclusion that with automatic transmission you can drive with good results even on pro-am level of difficulty. Automatic gear box lets you concentrate only on track and co-pilot’s prompts, when using manual transmission, you must additionally listen intently to car’s engine (its rpms) and it may draw your attention. However, manual gear box has some advantages. Time advantages probably are not worth my writing, they should be obvious for you: computer changes gears too early or too late and usually doesn’t squeeze out everything from the engine. So, increase of acceleration when using manual transmission is noticeable and transmits into seconds of profit on the track and better race results. Besides, manual gear box gives you a possibility of braking by reduction of gears. This method of braking allows you to avoid sliding which often happen when using handbrake. Of course, you shouldn’t overuse braking by gears reduction, because this may lead to gear box damage! Though, this advantage of manual transmission is reduced to a considerable degree by a footbrake (look below). Additionally, manual transmission has a one but serious disadvantage: after a heavy impact, when you want to reverse and return on the track, shifting to the reverse gear may take precious seconds.
  • Brake: footbrake or handbrake? Definitely footbrake. Why? In DIRT this brake is ultra-strong (even too strong) and can save your life on very speedy straights that end unexpectedly with hairpins – footbrake lets you avoid crashing in these situations. Additionally, the footbrake does not cause sliding almost at all. You must only operate him with caution, press him (its key) for fractions of seconds. Often you can brake at the last moment, literally.
  • General rule of taking the corners: we’re closing to them along the outer edge of the road, taking them along the inner edge and exiting the corners again along the outer edge, to gain speed as fast as possible. Of course, when you play on the keyboard, it’s not easy to stick to this rule – you struggle sufficiently and almost all the time, trying to stay on the road, even on straight sections.
  • It’s good to listen to the co-pilot, but it’s even better to learn the tracks by memory.
  • You should always watch the replays and learn on them. It’s best to observe rally car from chase cam on these replays. You will be probably very surprised when you see, for example, that it is possible to drive even closer to that wall you passed it almost hooking it up (as it seemed to you on bonnet cam view during the race).

by ToMythTo

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