ALIGN OF DUTY
We paid a visit to the home of BTCC team, Power Maxed Racing, and met with Chris Dear, technical director at Absolute Alignment, to find out how to keep your Vauxhall on the straight and narrow…
Keeping your performance Vauxhall on the straight and narrow. Literally.
Optimising alignment is one of the most important factors in ensuring your car performs at its best. Whether the Vauxhall you’re driving is heavily modified or retains standard specification, poor alignment can adversely affect tyre wear, fuel economy, handling (including steering response) and general vehicle manoeuvrability.
Influenced by the condition and configuration of suspension equipment, poor alignment can be checked and corrected at low cost, making it one of the most effective ways of improving the way your car behaves on the road or track without you having to spend big bucks. Sadly, most owners wait until their car develops problems – pulling from one side of the road to the other or running on tyres with low tread – before they seek a specialist to correct alignment, and even then the person charged with carrying out the work is usually a local tyre fitter reading whatever factory settings his computer tells him needs to be dialled-in to the car in question. The problem with this approach is a complete lack of input from the car’s owner regarding preferred driving style, tyre choice, modifications and the environment the car is driven in. After all, while factory-prescribed alignment settings might be satisfactory for the majority of drivers, it doesn’t necessarily follow that those same settings are suitable for you and your tuned Vauxhall.
Indeed, in the real world, a ‘one size fits all’ solution is entirely unsatisfactory, especially if you’ve added upgraded components (springs, bushes or dampers) to your car’s suspension system, or if you partake in different types of driving – including track days – from the pilot’s seat of the Griffin you hop into for regular road use.
Whether you’ve smacked a pothole, fitted coilovers, are experiencing vibration through the
steering wheel or simply have no evidence of alignment being carried out on your car in the recent past, it’s a good idea to seek the assistance of an accessible alignment specialist (no, not your local tyre fitter!) who can use factory settings as a starting point, rather than the end goal. With this in mind, we paid a visit to the workshop of Power Maxed Racing ( powermaxedracing.com), the manufacturer-supported British Touring Car Championship team based in Bidford-on-Avon. Our Vectra VXR has just been kitted-out with new bushes and GAZ GHA adjustable coilovers, making it the ideal candidate for custom alignment.
Waiting to greet us was Chris Dear, technical director at Absolute Alignment ( absolutealignment.co.uk), the company responsible for the design and manufacture of state-ofthe-art 3D, digital and Bluetooth alignment equipment used by topflight motorsport teams and main dealers worldwide. At this point you’d be forgiven for thinking we’re living in fantasy land, but the truth of the matter is you can have your Vauxhall’s alignment sorted by the very same engineers who work on championship-contending BTCC Astras week in, week out.
Furthermore, the equipment used on your car will be the very same Absolute Alignment kit used at the track to radically reduce Power Maxed Racing’s lap times. And with prices starting as low as £35 for basic front-wheel alignment, there’s no excuse not to ensure your treasured Griffin handles flawlessly with your personal preferences and driving style taken into consideration.