Motorsport ABS; why you need it!

Drift champion Beau Yates has built Bosch Motorsport ABS into his re-imagined and completely reworked AE86 for Time Attack with the legendary Keiichi Tsuchiya to drive it at WTAC this weekend. So what is Motorsport ABS and why would you want it? Bosch knows ABS, how it works and the problems faced when turning a standard production road car into a track weapon or building from scratch. This article sheds some light on the topic and hopefully dispels a few myths along the way.

When working correctly, ABS inspires confidence and enables a driver to really explore the limits of their car’s braking potential, a key enabler of a fast lap time. Production car ABS is so good on unmodified road cars because it has been finely tuned to the particular make and model and its corresponding weight, chassis, suspension, tyre, master cylinder and brake combination. When production cars are modified for racing, the finely tuned ABS settings no longer match the new setup and the ABS usually doesn’t work as well. Many drivers throw it away at that point as brake pedal feel and stopping performance can become inconsistent. But ABS that is working correctly is consistent and reliable and allows a driver to really push harder and faster to discover the limits of their car’s potential. We find drivers are often surprised at what their car is actually capable of when they run Motorsport ABS and dial it in correctly.

Why can standard ABS not work correctly in a race car?

A standard production car’s ABS software is tuned for the build specification of that car. Tyres, brake rotors, pad material, master cylinder, vehicle mass and suspension all affect the ABS performance of the car. When a standard production car is stripped out to become substantially lighter, then fitted with wider & stickier tyres, bigger rotors and improved callipers for racing, its maximum possible deceleration and braking potential overall can be improved significantly.  Camber changes and altered spring or damping rates will change the tyres’ contact patch on the road and how well they follow bumps. The problem with all this is that the software settings in the ABS unit are no longer matched after such modifications to the car and cannot be modified to suit.

ABS software is tuned to provide a balance between deceleration and stability. It allows the right amount of brake pressure through to the callipers of each wheel for the available surface grip at any point in time to achieve the best combination of stopping performance and controllability. A skidding tyre has very little grip in any direction, which means not only is its braking effect enormously reduced but so too is steering control. The magic of ABS when working correctly is that the driver can use the system to give high stopping performance and an assurance of steering control even if they brake too late or jump on the pedal too hard. This ability to maintain steering control on the limit of adhesion gives a driver the confidence to push hard, try different lines and techniques and really explore the potential of their car, all whilst having peace of mind that they won’t cook a set of tyres in the process.

Basically, ABS that’s NOT working correctly can result in unreliable braking performance, inconsistent pedal feel and leave a driver less inclined to explore the extreme limits of their car’s performance.

The solution!

Bosch Motorsport has an ABS system that is configurable to the individual build specification of the car and has a 12 position switch to allow a driver to dial in varying degrees of ABS intervention. Depending on track conditions, the weather, tyre type and condition and how brave they are feeling, a driver can adjust on-the-fly how much ABS intervention the system will provide! Cold tyres, wet track, still getting to know the circuit? You may opt for more intervention. Dry track, warm tyres and feeling confident? Dial some out.

Whilst Motorsport ABS is no substitute for a poor brake system, bad tyres or an unskilled driver and will not let you defy the laws of physics if you massively overcook it into a corner, it will allow you to get the most out of your race car every time you hit the brake pedal.

More good news is that Motorsport ABS can be fitted to almost any car; it can run either as a stand-alone system, suitable for many older cars or, via its CAN comm’s capability, be integrated with other electronic systems more often found in later model vehicles or custom built race cars.

Beau Yates’ AE86 & Keiichi Tsuchiya

The team at Bosch Motorsport were super excited when Beau Yates announced his intentions for the AE86 at WTAC, as it’s an ideal race format for Motorsport ABS. Time Attack is all about putting together a perfect lap, with minimal opportunity to get a corner wrong and then make up for it in later laps; Motorsport ABS should really help get more corners ‘right’ every time. And if that isn’t justification enough, it eliminates the possibility of flat spotting tyres and significantly lowers the risk of losing control and hitting a wall, saving both money and panel damage!

Looking forward to seeing what a driver the calibre of Keiichi Tsuchiya will be able to do with the AE86 and how much he’ll make use of the ABS!

Want to know more?