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    Thread: Road racing: FWD vs AWD

    1. 09-03-2008 08:42 PM #1
      Hola,

      I have never driven an AWD car around a track. However after swapping rides with my dad at The Glen last week (in his 2008 Corvette) it became instantly obvious that my next car will not be FWD. I've driven his various Corvettes since I was 17 (26 now) but that was the first time I really ripped around a track and knew what I was doing. Last time I took his Vette to the track it was a C5, I was 18, didn't have a clue what I was doing, and was scared shi*less. I often toy with the idea of going BT on the GTI, but even if I installed an LSD, I'm basically beating a dead horse with 300+whp in a FWD track toy.

      So, I'll be in the market for a new vehicle in the next year, and I'll prolly be thinking Big Turbo B7 A4 or BMW 135i. I want a car in the 12's, cuz it's just a hoot to have the much power when you want it. However, does an AWD car with a front bias (60/40 in the A4 I believe) drive like a FWD car with lots of grip, a RWD car with more stability, or something in between that I've never experienced? I've never hustled an AWD car around a track so I wouldn't know what to expect, so if anyone has lots of experience with both I'd love some insight.


    2. 09-03-2008 09:07 PM #2
      AWD cars drive more like FWD cars in my experience. Ive driven FWD based cars (like the R32) and RWD based systems (like an S4) and the cars felt a lot like a FWD car with lots of weight up front and wanting to push. My order of preference would be RWD, FWD, AWD but in reality Ill drive anything.

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      09-03-2008 10:52 PM #3
      Quote, originally posted by NOVAdub »
      AWD cars drive more like FWD cars in my experience.

      Yes, my experience as well. Gigantic (exageration) rear sway bars are needed, or just oversteer. FWD can be fast but its all preference. To date, I have never tracked an AWD or RWD vehicle on the track. All my experience is FWD and I love it. I could not imagine switching over.


    4. 09-03-2008 10:53 PM #4
      Nor could I, until I drove the C6 on the track.

    5. 09-03-2008 11:37 PM #5
      AWDs are very much like FWDs. The sensation of push from the FWD and the pushing from the RWD can be an odd feeling if you're not prepared for it. If you swap out differentials on the A4/S4 to a more locked up clutch design in the rear and a more rearward bias in the center diff the car will drive a LOT more like the RWD types just with a bit more front end grip.

      Have you driven a FWD with a proper clutch based LSD. The way they drive and enter and exit corners is quite different from your standard open diff FWD and your gear based FWD cars. In some ways it is similar to the RWD feel even.


    6. Member ianacole's Avatar
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      09-04-2008 10:23 AM #6
      Rex,

      Do you feel there is a performance difference between a clutch based diff and a gear based diff (or LSD vs. TorSen) in our cars? Which do you think is more appropriate for road racing and why?


    7. 09-04-2008 11:46 AM #7
      I think there is a difference in LSD's, for a racecar I think their are only two options spool and Clutch and you choose which you prefer based on driving style.

      I have a clutch and love it, in a FWD car the fast way around a track is by curb hopping. Since I got my clutch LSD I can now fully take advantage of curb hopping and not hear the motor rev high when a wheel is in the air. A torsion diff is great for street driving where a clutch type isn't, for a dedicated track car I would stay away from a torsion. Although some guys like a torsion for the track because they are zero maintenance.


    8. 09-05-2008 12:10 AM #8
      Quote, originally posted by ianacole »
      Rex,

      Do you feel there is a performance difference between a clutch based diff and a gear based diff (or LSD vs. TorSen) in our cars? Which do you think is more appropriate for road racing and why?

      Totally different feel.

      With a clutch type you can really use the throttle to steer you through the corner, with proper setup, more throttle actually pulls you closer to the apex of the corner, its quite an experience. Clutch types also spread the load more evenly across the driving wheels and can even allow for 100% lockup, where as a gear type will not. In many cases the clutch types being used are 1.5 way or 2 way diffs, this adds an extra dimension of stability and allows for very late braking into a corner. Since there is a driving force on the inside frt tire there is more resistance to keep it from locking up even under aggressive braking.

      The added stability also allows for a more aggressive setup. As gear types are typically unloaded during decel the car will tend to be far looser than a clutch type during turn in.

      As said above the clutch types will spin even if a wheel is airborne, so in a full race situation a clutch type would be generally preferred, ie if using curbs to help rotate the car, or in gravel situations.

      In a gear type, under full power you can still have the inside wheel spinning and pushing you out and away from the apex. With a clutch type, if allowed to lock up 100% or nearly so, even under full power both drive wheels will pull the car through the corner and not necessarily just shove it off line as a gear type would.

      In just about every case where a driver tests both gear and clutch types, in a pure racing manner, the clutch types are typically preferred. Gear types are usually only preferred if maintenance is an issue.

      As the car is always sliding through the corner, many racers have come to prefer a spool over a clutch type, as it always ensures solid power being put down. However this is not very ideal in any low speed situation where the car is not being pitched. In low speed situations it would snap the CV joints quite easily.

      It really all comes down to driver preference and what their budget allows for.

      In a road racing aspect I would choose a clutch type. It lets you brake late, you can play with throttle to pull you through the corner and even into the apex, and will never have an issue if you use the curbs. I use the clutch type in my autox vehicle and have had excellent results with it as well. The amount of power you can put down in corner exit is so dramatic that my codriver and I are still trying to adjust to it even after nearly a full season.

      I would probably tend to avoid a spool due to the fact that it is not the most user friendly when it comes to low speed navigation.


    9. Member ianacole's Avatar
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      09-05-2008 12:36 AM #9
      Thanks for that. I've only experienced an open diff and the Peloquin TorSen. The TorSen is a world better than the open, but I bought it when I was only focused on autocrossing. Wonder if I can find someone to trade with me for a weekend

    10. 09-05-2008 07:03 AM #10
      Quote, originally posted by rex_racer »
      AWDs are very much like FWDs. The sensation of push from the FWD and the pushing from the RWD can be an odd feeling if you're not prepared for it. If you swap out differentials on the A4/S4 to a more locked up clutch design in the rear and a more rearward bias in the center diff the car will drive a LOT more like the RWD types just with a bit more front end grip.

      Have you driven a FWD with a proper clutch based LSD. The way they drive and enter and exit corners is quite different from your standard open diff FWD and your gear based FWD cars. In some ways it is similar to the RWD feel even.

      I enjoyed your write up on these LSDs. However, is everything you're talking about more suited to a race car? All the advantages you speak of seem like they would hurt you on the street, and for the meantime I'm talking about buying a car that will be on the street 99% of the time. If I ever feel the need to compete in motorsports, then I would obviously buy and build a purpose built race car and these LSD systems sound great. Just wondering what you lose in streetability with them...


    11. Member 2 doors's Avatar
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      09-05-2008 01:32 PM #11
      Obviously, most of rex_racer's write up was about track driving in a race car. However, the gear type diff's (Quaife, Peloquin) are perfectly fine for everyday street use. For the most part, they are transparent. It's just when you get on the gas in a corner, you have little to no inside wheel spin. Your Revo'd GTI could certainly benefit from one right now.

      If you're serious about track driving, and like the feel of RWD, why not keep your GTI and get a dedicated RWD track car? You could look at E30/36 BMW's, 924/944's, Mustangs/Camaros, or even a C4 Vette and hang with your dad. It'd be better than tearing up a brand new DD on the track.


    12. 09-05-2008 01:55 PM #12
      I was thinking about getting a dedicated track pig, but I can't justify spending the money on a car that's gonna sit around most of it's life. I don't have cash lieing around to buy a truck and trailer, and I can't afford (at this point) to do that many events that I can justify the cost of a comfortable, reliable, and fun track car that I'd also need to drive back and forth to events. So for the near future, I'm thinking run the GTI into the ground as a back and forth to work car, pick up the 135i for pimping and track use, and when I have the financial freedom, buy a real race car.

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      09-05-2008 03:22 PM #13
      The major difference between a fwd and a rwd is that in a fwd when you run out of talent you will see what you are going to hit.

    14. 09-05-2008 06:31 PM #14
      No specific answers but here are a few ways to get more exposure.

      Watch the Koni Challenge series and research the cars. I was trackside last weekend watching plenty of FWDs zip around the track! A Civic, Colbalt and Legacy were on the podium in the ST class.

      The Audi Driving Experience
      http://www.audidrivingexperien...k_id=

      I just went to the local Audi Experience event and flogged the new A4 and A8 on the track. Pretty hot laps and I was impressed with the balance of both. However, I would not use them as track cars given the weight. Additionally, you drive an autocross type course and hop from the A4 to a BMW, Mercedes, and Lexus for direct comparision. It is great exposure for free!

      Finally, lots of track time will make a huge difference regardless of the car horsepower or drivetrain. Well, regardless in most cars. My A3 is stock sans R compounds and track pads and it holds it's own fairly well in my groups!


      Modified by JCB at 9:37 AM 9-6-2008


    15. 09-05-2008 08:13 PM #15
      I didn't know about the ADE. Das coo. Unfortunately they don't have any events scheduled near me (Pocono or NHIS). I'll keep an eye on that though.

    16. 09-06-2008 09:21 AM #16
      Quote, originally posted by NOVAdub »
      AWD cars drive more like FWD cars in my experience. Ive driven FWD based cars (like the R32) and RWD based systems (like an S4) and the cars felt a lot like a FWD car with lots of weight up front and wanting to push. My order of preference would be RWD, FWD, AWD but in reality Ill drive anything.

      AWD cars like the A4, for example, drive much like FWD cars.

      AWD cars like the R8 and C4S I've recently driven on track are much, much different.


    17. 09-06-2008 09:41 AM #17
      Quote, originally posted by StreetSpeed2000 »
      Unfortunately they don't have any events scheduled near me (Pocono or NHIS). I'll keep an eye on that though.

      I guess the happy hour stuff was getting to me. Saratoga... Sarasota,... I'm such a dork. The other manufactures do the driver experience events too!


    18. 09-06-2008 10:18 AM #18
      Quote, originally posted by mr. diagonical »

      AWD cars like the A4, for example, drive much like FWD cars.

      AWD cars like the R8 and C4S I've recently driven on track are much, much different.


      Ive never driven an AWD "sportscar" before, unless you want to count driving a friends dad's 911 turbo around the block a few times when I was 19. If youve got one I can drive, Id be glad to give you my opinion.

    19. Member TechEd's Avatar
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      09-06-2008 10:42 AM #19
      The truthful answer here is "It depends".

      While there are some perceived shortcomings with FWD chassis, and fundamental challenges for both driver and crew chief, I would not be so quick to rank FWD below RWD or AWD for either road or track. Generalizations and oversimplifications that take place during "bench racing" are never to be cast-in-stone as accurate. There will always be proof otherwise.

      A FWD chassis can equal any AWD or RWD platform in performance, and even outperform them under certain conditions. All it take is skill, setup knowledge and commitment. And ultimately, the truth is that a skilled driver in a FWD car will always be quicker than an unskilled driver in a RWD or AWD car of the same weight/power.

      We've had great success with our FWD, GTA-Class Corrado in CASC Ontario Region. We've championed the class two years in a row against seriously-expensively-prepped Corvettes, Cobra Kits, BMWs, Datsun 240Z and assorted Porsches, with a fraction of their budget. More importantly, when we compare our segment time data logging to others at Mosport Park, our cornering speeds are equal to and sometimes even faster than some CASC GT1 cars (all RWD). We only suffer up the long back straight a Mosport, but always make up time through corners 8 & 9 to be able to outbrake them into corner 10 or 1, and drive away.

      The car took two solid years to develop and sort, but now is easy to drive, reliable, stable, predictable, and absolutely shines in low grip situations. All it took was skill and commitment.

      With my MKV GTI, I have also set faster times than many RWD and AWD cars in "faster" classes in autocross competition! I'm often quicker than many TAS, TBS, TCS and TDS cars (spanning everything from Corvettes to BMWs etc.). I managed several top PAX event times as well... with a fundamentally flawed, heavy, open diff, high CG FWD hatchback

      Y'see... when it comes down to what the driver (and crew) brings to the equation, it really does "depend".

      J.

      "Professional Driver, Closed Course."
      SpeedWerks Racing 05/06 CASC OR GTA Champion
      2008 DCSCC Autox Series Top 3 PAX Points
      2009/10/12 DCSCC Autox THS Champion, Street Tire Champion & 2nd place PAX Points

    20. 09-06-2008 06:35 PM #20
      The car in question w/ the clutch based LSD is a daily driver. A minimum of 70miles, 5 days a week, not including anything that happens on the weekends. Autox is usually once every 2 weeks, sometimes a gap of 3 or 4 weeks. I would say the car and the diff spend quite a bit of time on the street.

      Clutch types work with acceleration, the more gas you give the more it reacts and the quicker it locks up. The more you drive it like a normal person not jumping on it, the less you notice it. Obviously it won't work as open as an open diff, but its not going to prevent one from driving it on the street, especially if you have power steering. If you're coming from a standstill and making a very tight turn under power and you jump on the gas there are two possibilities, the inside tire will slip as the diff locks up, the front end hops a little if you give it too little gas, or you just drive like a normal person and not be WOT coming off the line.

      Maintenance wise a clutch type is better for a track car, you'll be doing fluid changes as often as oil changes to ensure good clutch life. This isn't something that most people want to do, and so some might say track car instead of daily driver.

      Its all about perspective and what you want to do and what "sacrifices" you're willing to make.


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      09-07-2008 10:28 AM #21
      One of my favorite videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXpStVvI1WY

    22. Member flyinglizard's Avatar
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      09-07-2008 01:03 PM #22
      All things the same, RWD is faster, Lucky for us, all things seldom are the same. The C4 Corvette is the most fun track car I have driven. The Busch cars are really good also. Because they require your constant attention, dont go where pointed, dont stop very well, either, Both are very rewarding and demanding.
      The C5 and C6 are so fast and easy , like a 911, that they are fairly boring. IMHo.
      Our Fwd Golf race car, , set up scary loose, is very fast and keeps you on the edge. The Circle track Jetta is fast(top three) against the Toyotas,Neons, etc. One reason is if it is hit in the ass, it just takes a slide and continues.
      FWD driving style is backwards to a RWD car, to control a slide , the Throttle is matted, the corner arc is controlled by left foot braking. It takes a lot of practice to utilise this technique. to say the least.
      The result is a car , very fast into the turn. The VW speed advantage is fast into the turn .
      I have driven the Awd Sub and Evo on track, Stock, they push, with a heavy feel. cash for cash. I would buy a Vette.
      The cost per hr on the Vette is about 300-500, gas/ tires/brakes.
      Cost per Hr, VW is about 200-300. The race VW does have a higher prep time, if you /prep/change axles, front bearings, etc.
      The Vette has some bearing issues after a while also.
      Sorry to ramble,I love all race cars, but each has it's reason to exist.
      MM
      The http://www.fwdracingguide.com/ Money back guarantee!, You can go 100$ faster with this 20$ guide
      Mike and Michael Ogren, Protech Racing,25 yrs of Racing VWs. mogren@tampabay.rr.com[/email], 352.428/8983
      ]

    23. 09-08-2008 06:20 PM #23
      Positraction, known to hot rodders for many years back into the 50's is a clutch based LSD. Torque sensing systems do not work if a wheel is airborne or has no traction. Torsen cars fail on glare ice for example.


    24. Member chois's Avatar
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      09-08-2008 10:59 PM #24
      Some empirical data - video shot from a well prepped and well driven Porsche 924 ITB car, running against a yellow 2.0 Golf 3 ITB car mostly, and white 8v Golf 2 ITB car.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c27uOudCuMo

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4vP7u79hVA

      Yeah it depends...

      Chris
      2007 GTI 16v, 4 door, 6sp (well really that one is Brandy's)
      2004.5 Passat Wagon 20v, 1.8t, 4mo, 5sp
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    25. Member LiBlackRabbit's Avatar
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      01-07-2009 05:06 PM #25
      Good info in this thread

    26. 01-17-2009 11:04 AM #26
      I ran my previous car, an evo IX, at Summit Point a couple of times and based on my limited experience I can tell you that the AWD is a huge safety net. My old evo would naturally understeer at the limit, but the limit was well above my ability and it felt very confidence inspiring. On the other hand, I can feel the limit of my current GTI and it plows like a pig in any sort of decreasing radius turn on public roads. FWD vs. AWD is like night and day. If you can afford the AWD set up for road track fun I would go AWD.

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