Developing new products is one of the most satisfying parts of our business, there is always something new to learn, we get to work with some incredible experts, testing usually involves nice cars at high speed and we end up with a solution that make are real improvement. A case in point is the testing of our latest Nissan GT-R chassis upgrades. This includes our newly developed track focused Bilstein Clubsport suspension and our own handling kit which is aimed at both road and track day cars. If you’re going to test a high performance chassis what better place to go than the famous Nurburgring! The ring has become almost a second home for us over the years with the team regularly visiting and staying in accommodation with a workshop facility to allow us to work on the cars.
Litchfield/Bilstein ‘Clubsport’ suspension package builds on our phenomenal success of the fast road Damptronic kit, with over 450 sets sold around the world. The Clubsport kit has a very different target audience and is aimed squarely at those GT-Rs that need an extra level of chassis control when on track.
Originally designed for Nismo, and the anticipation of a one make championship in Asia, and as such the Bilstein Clubsport suspension package had already had significant time spent on it. When the race series fell through Bilstein approached us to see if we would like to finish off the development.
Working with BILSTEIN’s own competition R&D team in Ennepetal, Germany, the resulting Litchfield ClubSport suspension package is a fully street-legal, TÜV-certified high-end coilover package that as you would expect is built to a standard that is more than up the demands of high performance circuit driving.
The kit is based around a 2-way adjustment system, complete with integrated reservoir and provides the necessary weight advantage for racing and club sport use compared to systems with external reservoirs. Rebound and compression force can be changed independently via the two easily accessible motorsport-proven aluminium adjustment wheels, and ten positive detent adjustment positions for both bump and rebound enable the setup to be changed quickly and accurately at all times. For ease of use the position of the thumbwheels on top of the struts makes damper rate changes much more efficient and easy than normal track suspension which tend to have the adjuster mounted at the bottom of the damper.
With over 100 damping parameters instantly accessible there is a wide range of handling characteristics that can be created in just seconds, allowing for instant ‘back-to-back’ set-up and fine tuning.
The testing was completed on our own development car which has already seen track action on a variety of events on UK circuits. When we conducted our initial suspension setup work at Silverstone we were joined by 2012 World Touring Car Champion (& Litchfield 1,00bhp GT-R owner) Rob Huff. Silverstone is the complete opposite to the Nurburgring which made it a perfect counter point. Rob was quickly able to assist us with expert feedback on the setting changes we made and was really impressed with the new suspension.
We sent the final setup results and dampers to Bilstein so they could finalise the internal valve stack with the Silverstone/Smooth circuit setting positioned in one of the harder positions in the range of adjustment. The lower end of the damper range would be used for testing at the bumpier Nurburgring.
We spent two days testing at the Nurburgring and development cars suspension was near perfect. Small adjustment changes helped dial it in further and midway through the afternoon of the first day we had settled on a setup that all the drivers really enjoyed.
With the Clubsport suspension installed the GT-R is much more surefooted around both Silverstone and the Nurburgring. Not only is the mass controlled around high speed bends but the car is much more stable under braking and seeks out more traction under acceleration.
The fine adjustment of dampers means the driver can easily setup the handling balance that suits them best. They give the driver a much great sense of confidence in the chassis which in-turn makes the GT-R quicker, safer and more fun when on track.
Our Clubsport suspension kit features custom ERS main and helper springs from Eibach. The spring rates were carefully chosen to cover a broad range of circuits and near standard weight cars. If customers would like a more extreme setup or are running cars with a significant weight reduction then then we are able to easily supply revised spring rates to suit.
With the dampers configured in a Nurburgring friendly setting the ride quality is surprisingly good on the road. Having a nice progressive damper setting means that the Clubsport suspension is able to keep the body nice and controlled through the fast sweeping bends but does not bottom out through the many steep compression and tempting curves. As a driver the car is extremely predictable and most importantly fun to drive.
The dampers have excellent control over the stiffer springs which means that customers looking for both fast road and track performance will find the Clubsport kit offers a perfect combination.
Whilst testing the Clubsport suspension at the Nurburgring we also took the opportunity to run our newly developed handling kit. This innovative new Handling Kit, which was designed from scratch with technical partners Powerflex in order to improve grip, greater steering feel and more positive turn-in on the GT-R’s chassis.
We produced this chassis upgraded some years ago with the development of our highly effective but very costly adjustable aluminium suspension arms. These fabricated suspension arms allowed our engineers to test and adjust the geometry to find the ideal positions for both fast road and track use. Over time we settled on a combination that works superbly on both. Using our Alignment equipment we were able to modify a standard suspension arms and bushes which replicated these most of these geometry settings but without the need to buy the expensive fabricated arms.
We worked with Powerflex to build us a complete replacement bush kit which would accurately replicated our proven settings as well as providing additional ‘anti dive’ characteristics.
The new Handling kit changes the position of the upper suspension arm bushes, lower suspension arm bushes and replacement CNC mounts, not only upping the handling ante, but neatly addressing the increasingly common problem of cracked front arm assemblies, which cost a lot more than these parts do!
Even when fitted in isolation, the Litchfield Handling Kit allows for a greater tyre contact area which, in turn, provides greater feedback to the driver, improves traction and offers greater stability.
The increased caster angle produces more weight and detail to the steering which is vital to driver confidence. When you arrive at a corner it is more stable under braking and once you begin to turn into the corner there is a lot more front end grip and a massive reduction in understeer to create a beautifully neutral car.
If ever there is a place you need confidence as a driver the Nurburging is it! Having driven a number of GT-Rs around the ring before I have not experienced any GT-R that handles so well. It is so much more predictable and the improvement in steering feel is very noticeable.
Our GT-R LM1 RS was invited to Evo Magazines’s Track Car Of The Year event in 2016 and they loved it. The journalists were amazed at the chassis balance and traction even in slippery conditions of their test.
We are so happy with our handling kit we install it on all our new LM20 models as it is such a great improvements with no compromises.