The proper alignment plays a huge role in how a car handles and performs. Not all alignments are created equal. Deep knowledge on how an alignment will perform based on the purpose of the setup can either make or break a car. Here’s an example on how it can help with an SCCA National Auto X win.
September 11th, 2015 wrapped up the SCCA National Autocross Championships where rookie Kristen Acharya piloted a 2015 Subaru WRX sponsored by YAWSPORT, CUSCO USA, and Winmax to victory in the D-Street Ladies class. The SCCA National Championship yielded over 1200 drivers in various classes and D-Street Ladies was comprised of a total of 5 drivers for which Kristen took the national auto x win.
Kristen attributed the class-winning runs to key modifications that really transformed the car. The alignment was one of these key factors. The alignment, performed by HG Performance’ John Wemigwans with settings suggested by Omar Mehr after he was given the parameters of what the car needed to do, gave the Acharya WRX a solid foundation to not only win regionally, but also at the Nationals. Locally, Kristen is the PAX-Ladies Class Autocross Champion for 2015 in San Diego Region. This new win however, is at national level.
“Stock/Street-class allowances for camber or any other aspects of suspension geometry are extremely limited, so we didn’t really know what we could get out of it while still adhering to the rules,” Kristen says recalling the approach on how to use the existing OEM equipment to maximize suspension settings.
“There is no getting around it, in order to get this thing [the WRX] to turn we needed as much camber as possible,” she mentions.
Kristen, preferring a loose car, required the car to really rotate, especially mid corner, which was very hard to do on the factory alignment.
“After we got the alignment done at HG Performance, the car felt a lot more alive. It liked to ‘dance’, which was much better than stock alignment,” comments Kristen.
More was needed from the car however, within the rules for the class. It was then that the new CUSCO larger front sway bar was put in along with some higher grip tires and the aggressive Winmax brake pads. These really transformed the car, helped it pivot into a corner and keep it planted through transients and hair pins whilst offering phenomenal braking control.
The lack of having to worry about the alignment helped the Acharya’s just focus on learning the WRX.
“We had the team at HGMS set the alignment once in January and never touched it after that. We are exceedingly happy with the level of professionalism, service and technical knowledge that comes with the team at HG and would recommend them to those looking to partake in getting their cars worked on,” said Kaustav Acharya, Kristen’s husband who had dropped off the car for the alignment.
For 2016, the Acharya WRX will be swapping to a rear sway bar, getting a refresh of the alignment, and potentially looking at some shocks, but the latter may be after Kristen feels she’s got the most out of it.
“After discussion with some veteran drivers, going with a rear bar to give the car a livelier corner exit may work better with my driving style. There is a lot to still be learned with this car and I don’t want to make too many changes just yet. We’ll start off with the rear bar and see how that goes at the national circuit. If we’re holding our own on stock equipment, we can use the funds to prioritize seat time or putting those funds towards my Subaru BRZ build.”
All photos by Late Apex Photo.
To follow Kristen and the Acharya team, check out their blog ApexJunky.com.