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Drifting Guide to Forza Motorsport 3

March 30, 2010

One of the last achievements I got in Forza Motorsport 3 was the 100,000 drift points in a single lap. Reading though other forums it seems that its also the one that has most people concerned, with some even saying they’ll not bother trying it. Its true that its the most difficult to achieve, but it need not be impossible especially with the addition of the rewind function.

Having played lots over the last few months, thanks to the current trend of IT professionals to be made redundant, I have put together the following as my guide on how to get this achievement.

What is drifting?

The first thing to get to grips with, is what is drifting and what gets you drift points in Forza Motorsport 3. There is a difference between the two.

A good place to start for a description of real world drifting is this Wikipedia Article. In its simplest form its controlling the car so that the angle of the car is at a tangent to the angle of the steering wheels and this angle is controlled by use of the throttle because the driving wheels are spinning against the road surface.

Forza Motorsport 3 will give you drift points whenever the angle of the car deviates more than a certain number of degrees from the centre line of the road. Your points will increase at a faster rate the higher the angle, until you either cross the 90 degree point, leave the road, or bump something; at which point your points are lost.

Forza Motorsport 3 makes no distinction on the technicalities of drifting, so long as your car is sideways and moving, you will get points. You will even get points for being airborne and sideways.

Points will also accumulate faster the quicker you are travelling, which brings in an interesting dynamic because going faster also means having less control and affects the arc or curve that the car will travel. The fast the entry speed and wider the arc. Start your drift at too high a speed and you’ll never be able to make the corner, or you’ll just spin out, either way you’ll not get any points.

What car to choose?

What car you choose is very important and the physics of Forza Motorsport 3 are close enough to real world driving that its wise to choose a car that would drift well in the real world.

This essentially means, no front wheel drive (FWD) cars. To drift you need power to the rear wheels. Having a FWD car means that as soon as power is applied, the front wheels will pull the rear of the car back into line and unless you are constantly throwing the car about to force the back end to break away, you are not going to score anything. That’s not to say you can’t score any drift points with a FWD car, you can, you just won’t score competitively, so its simply not worth trying.

The next options you have are rear wheel drive (RWD) and four wheel drive (4WD). Either of these can be chosen and it largely depends on what your preference is.

RWD

A RWD car is good because tuned right it will break away into a drift very easily and will not need to be provoked using the handbrake. This means you can concentrate on controlling the throttle and steering input to get the best drift. More throttle will steepen the angle, less throttle will bring the car back into line. RWD makes swinging the car pendulum style between left and right hand drifts relatively easy as all that’s required is a lift of the throttle, some opposite lock on the steering and then more throttle again.

The downside of RWD is that it is all too easy to overcook the drift and spin out. Another problem with RWD is that with all the power going to the rear wheels maintaining a decent forward momentum is difficult and sooner or later the speed will drop so low that drifting is no longer possible and you’ll need to drive regularly for a bit to get the speed up again. The flip side of that is a well setup RWD car will enable longer and more impressive drifts than a 4WD car.

4WD

A 4WD car has drive split between front and rear wheels, normally with the majority of the drive going to the rear. Unlike a RWD car, a 4WD car will likely need some handbrake applied to encourage the drift to start.

4WD has benefits over RWD in that maintaining speed is easier since the front wheels are also providing drive and so act to pull the car forwards, while the rear wheels spinning will maintain the drift angle. The downside of this is that drift control is more delicate, too much throttle will cause the front wheels to pull the car straight and so end the drift sooner than if a RWD car was used.

Setting Up

Weather you choose RWD or 4WD to attempt your drifting. Car setup is the most important.

The exact setup you choose will depend on your choice of car, below are some pointers to think about, but there is no substitute for tweak and test to see what happens and what works best for you.

You want enough power to be able to break traction on the tyres easily to enable the drift to be maintained, but not so much that the tyres gain no traction and can’t provide forward momentum. You want to make sure that steering the car while drifting has a very rapid and obvious reactions so you can make lots of adjustments during a drift and get a good ‘feel’ for what the car is doing. 1 to 1.5 degrees of positive camber is a good stating point and a small amount of toe in, say .5 a degree. For a 4WD car put most of the power to the rear, say 75%.

My choice was to go for the Datsun 510, converted to 4WD, with the twin turbo Skyline engine. 75% of the drive was sent to the rear wheels and I made the front wheels narrower than the rear wheels because they had less power to them and I didn’t want to compromise steering too much by having such wide tyres on. I had 1.5 degrees camber on the front and 1 degree on the back. The fronts had .5 a degree on toe in and the rears had no toe at all. The advantage I have with the setup on this car is that if I think I am about to spin out of the drift I just put on full throttle and the car will power the front end round and straighten up, saving the drift and my points.

Weight

Yours cars weight is also very important. Heavy cars will drift badly and they press the wheels into the road and make wheel spin difficult. A light car with a lot of power is the ideal.

Drifting Technique

There is no point having the best drift car in the world if you can’t get basic technique right. It takes some practice, but if you are a drift novice it can be learnt once you have a basic idea of the common mistakes and how to correct them.

Probably the most common mistake is to enter the drift too fast. All you’ll do is go straight on and hit the barriers. The exact entry speed will depend on the car, but a good rule of thumb is enter the drift at hid to high revs and in either 2nd or 3rd gear. This should normally have you travelling at well under 100mph.

To start the drift you need to unsettle the car so that the back end losses traction and steps towards the outside of the corner. How you do this this will depend on what car you choose. Some cars will require a bit of handbrake, some will just need some steering input and a lot of throttle, others a combination of both.

One you have the drift started, maintaining it is the next important thing. Balance is the key, you need a lot of throttle to keep the rear wheels spinning, ideally about three quarters throttle. You need spare throttle capacity in case you need to add more throttle to throw the rear end further out to maintain the drift longer. You also need to keep an eye on steering input. Normally you’ll be on full lock, but that may need to be adjusted to help keep the front end heading in the right direction.

Normally you’ll want to keep well away from the brakes because slowing down too much kills your drift. However, you may need to use a bit of brake from time to time when no other action will work and you need an immediate bit of control. If you find that the rear of the car is about to spin out of the drift and you have already lifted off to no avail, then a quick jab on the brakes may well bring the control you desire. They key thing is that braking removes speed and you need to get that speed back up again quickly or you will lose the drift completely. Another benefit that a quick jab on the brakes brings is that it throws the weight forwards onto the front wheels, this can be a good thing if the front is not responding to steering input fast enough, a jab on the brakes will likely throw the front in the direction the wheels are pointing and save your drift.

I hope this has been helpful, enjoy your drifting and good luck.

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