Murasama Race Setups

Coventry | Murasama | BRM | Brabham | Ferrari | Eagle | Lotus

Here's my second collection of setups for GPL: race setups for the Murasama.

The Murasama is a lot of fun to drive, with excellent handling, superb brakes and a fabulous engine. It is a very good race car, fast and easy to be consistent with, and difficult to pass. It's the most powerful car in the game, fairly easy to drive if set up well, and it's pretty tough. I've smacked walls rather smartly, even in Realistic Damage mode, and just driven away with no damage.

The 430 hp V-12 is a masterpiece. Driving it is a real joy. It delivers smooth, seamless power from low in the rev range all the way to its astronomical redline. It's great fun to watch a Lotus pull out of the draft going down to the Masta kink and get only as far as alongside, without the oomph to pull ahead, or to simply blast by a Ferrari on the long uphill run to Sciere at Rouen.

I feel that mastering the powerful Murasama is good preparation for driving the lighter cars. It's perhaps a little more difficult to drive than the Coventry, but ultimately it's faster at most tracks.

The Murasama is quite competitive in races if driven well. I've won my share of races on VROC with the Murasama, sometimes chuckling with glee at the sight of all the yellow and green lawn mowing going on in my mirrors.

Historical Background

The Murasama is GPL's answer to the Honda. Presumably Honda was reluctant to license the name to Papyrus because the death of Jo Schlesser at Rouen in 1968 was considered a disgrace by the Japanese company, and they had no wish to evoke that memory.

However, the Honda showed great potential in John Surtees' hands in late 1967 and 1968. It was very fast at Spa both years, leading in '68 until a suspension bracket broke. It won at Monza in 1967, where it was admittedly outclassed by the Lotus - but then, so was everything else. Only the two Lotus and Hulme's Brabham (with some very agressive drafting) were faster in the race. A misfire hampered its qualifying effort at Spa in '67, but it was among the quickest during that race as well.

Surtess put the Honda on the pole at Monza in '68, set the fastest lap at Spa the same year, finished third at Kyalami in '67, and finished second at France and third at Watkins Glen in 1968.

So maybe we've got a car with some potential!

Making the Murasama Work

I've always assumed that a Grand Prix driver's worst nightmare would be a '67 Honda at, say, Monaco or Mosport.

Not so.

The secret is controlling the mass of that hulking V-12. It's big, tall, and way out in the back. The Murasama's wheelbase is 2 inches shorter than the Coventry's (the longest in the game) and its large rear engine and heavy chassis give it a high polar moment. For this reason, it's not as "tossable" as the Coventry. The Coventry has the wonderful characteristic of scrubbing off speed very well if you toss it sideways, which gives you a way to recover if you get in too deep. The Murasama, with all its weight, doesn't scrub speed off as well, and if you toss it, it tends to keep on rotating.

However, the Murasama's rearward weight bias gives it excellent traction; it gets all that power down extremely well. The same weight distribution also allows a more rearward brake bias, which gives it excellent braking. It's fast into corners, and fast out. The trick is to get it to work mid-corner.

With the default setups, the Murasama just rolls over onto the rear bump stops as soon as you turn the wheel. This sends rear roll stiffness through the roof, making the car want to swap ends. If you are ultra, ultra smooth you can drive around this, but I wanted to make the car work under race conditions, where often there isn't time to baby the car. (For more details about my setup philosophy, read my Coventry Setups page.)

I started with the same basic setup parameters I used for the Coventry. I figured I would have to go stiffer to handle the Murasama's extra heft. But it's only 70 pounds heavier, and I was rather surprised at how far I had to go in this direction to make the Murasama work.

It turns out that the high CG and great mass of the Murasama's engine requires almost all the stiffness we can get out of the chassis to keep that rear suspension off the bump stops. I prefer to keep the car relatively low, 2.25 inches front and 2.75 inches rear, because going higher aggravates the rolling tendancy and makes the car wallow during transitions. This means I had to work hard to find the right combination of stiffness.

After a lot of experimentation, I wound up with the spring rates at maximum, 120 pounds per inch rear and 100 pounds front, and the anti-roll bars at 150 to 180 front, 10 to 20 pounds less at the rear, depending on the circuit. I also put 4 or 5 clutches into the diff (4 on twisty circuits, 5 on faster ones). This really helped get the power down better and also made the car more stable under lift throttle and braking, which in turn allowed a bit more rear brake bias.

A key adjustment turned out to be the rear dampers. Once I went up to 3 clicks bump and 4 clicks rebound, that rear end started behaving, and the car started talking to me. Not quite so clearly as the Coventry, but I can feel what those tires are doing when I get on the power, and when I have to chuck the car a little on corner entry, I no longer find myself fighting to keep the engine behind me. The rear feels planted and I can attack the corners with confidence.

With this setup, the car tends to understeer strongly mid-corner, and I found that a touch of left-foot braking (I use CH Pedals in dual axis mode, so I can brake without letting up on the throttle) was often useful to get the car turning going in, or to tuck the nose down toward the apex in the middle of the corner. This is a good skill to learn, and the tradeoff for the extra effort is the ability to mash the throttle early coming out, and just pour all that power to the pavement.

The Murasama is in its element at Spa and Monza, and it's magnificant through the majestic fast sweeps of Rouen. But it's surprisingly effective at tracks like Mosport, and my 1:32.5 at Monaco with the White Monster is my personal fastest lap there - with any car!

With adequate spring rate, damping, and roll stiffness, the Murasama acts like a real race car. It's a delight to drive, and knocking down those personal best lap times can be sweet indeed.

So Does This Thing Really Go or What?

Here are my best times so far with the Murasama:

Kyalami 1:23.37
Mexico City 1:52.49
Monaco 1:32.54
Monza 1:30.10
Mosport 1:24.82
Nurburgring 9:17.90
Rouen 2:02.65
Silverstone 1:30.93
Spa-Francorchamps 3:26.26
Watkins Glen 1:06.64
Zandvoort 1:28.17

Not bad for a white whale, eh? Ok, so I haven't really tried hard at the Ring yet, but the rest of those times are darn close to my best times in any car.

What do other people think of these setups?

Your Murasama setups are wonderful. At the Glen, Spa, and Monza, once the tires were warm I was able to lap consistantly around my best times with the Eagle and Ferrari. Without feeling on the ragged edge and out of control. With the car being predictable I was able for the first time to have it on the same spot every lap, and be able to find spots where I could go faster (first time without lifting through Ascari).

- James Wyse

Love your Murasama setups! Thanks for the awesome tips and setups!

- NanaKofi

Thank you for the great Honda setups. I have been working hard in [an online series] to race the Honda (the only Honda). They must have thought I was nuts but I really like this car.Well so far the best I have finished was 5th ( a distant 5th at that but tonight I came in second out of 11 so after the race I had to tell them that it was your setup that helped so much at Rouen (France). The car was great and very easy to drive every lap around. Thanks so much for making setups for the average guy like me to race and learn from.

- Phil Henzig

Today on VROC I noticed two Murasamas on the track. ...they finished one and three and smoked us all. They were using Alison's setups.

I was not really excited by Alison's boasts of how good the Coventry and Murasama can be. I drove for Enzo...I did not care. I planned on getting my skills honed on the Ferrari and I modified the setups with safety first speed second. It worked OK. I did a 106.67 at Watkins Glen with my modified Zandervoort setup. I stuck like glue. I felt good.

That said, the Murasama that got behind me today was frightening. I could not believe his boldness to get by me. I had to try the setups.

Readers, this baby does rock. It rocks every lap. At first I was a little slow and I wondered what was wrong because I felt so much control. Then I realized that you just have to push this car to limits that would feel like suicide in the other cars. It will take it. I can really trail brake with this car. You have time to think about what the car is doing in a corner. Most errors can be cleaned right up with a touch of the brakes. The excellent control helps set up entries. I'm just gushing. Like Alison said it feels like a real race car. In the hour or so of driving I've noticed that my style looks like how the real cars drove (get the video of the Lotus 49 at Classic motorbooks).

For the record, I went out and while I was just feeling out the car potential and shift points at the Glen, I set a 1:07.40. My hottest lap, and it was a smoker for me, was a 1:06.67.

I get this funny feeling we are going to see a lot of white grids soon.

Thanks, Alison.

- Jim Barry

That V-12 howl

The Murasama sound that comes with GPL is really (don't tell anyone) a small-block Chevy. It's not very authentic, and not really very pleasant, in my humble opinion. Fortunately, there now available a much better-sounding and somewhat more authentic sample. A very clever fellow named Patrick has adapted a recording of Nick Mason's 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO V12 to work with GPL.

You can download Patrick's sounds from his site. I highly recommend all of them. The GTO sound is quite delicious, a hoarse, raspy roar low down that rises to an urgent, insistent howl at the Murasama's astronomical redline. With a good sound card connected to a good home stereo system, and the volume on "realistic", it's awesome. (See the sidebar on my BRM page for tips on setting the volume.)

What's Next?

Late in the Murasama setup development process, when I discovered the effect of extra damping at the rear, I tried the same basic setup on the BRM. Up till then, I'd hated the BRM; it sounds great, but that great heavy anvil of an engine just wanted to pass the nose every time I blinked.

But with the Murasama's setup at Silverstone, and a few tweaks to adapt for its short wheelbase and higher CG, the BRM rocked. It's almost as powerful as the Murasama. Its extreme rearward weight bias makes it trickier to set up, but gives it even better traction and allows brake bias more to the rear than any other car - making for excellent braking. The BRM's very short wheelbase makes it twitchier and more nervous than the Japanese warrior - and maybe good preparation for the lightning-quick Ferrari.

So maybe my next setup collection will be for the beast from Bourne.

Have fun!

Writing about the Coventry, I said, "If you're like me, you'll find that it's a lot more satisfying and a great deal more fun to do a solid, mistake-free drive to the podium in the Coventry than to spend half the race extricating yourself and the Lotus from the weeds."

This goes for the Murasama as well. It's particularly satisfying to drive a long race hard and well, and come out on top ahead of a gaggle of the more glamorous cars.

A word of caution, though. The Murasama is a challenging car to drive. If you haven't yet mastered the Coventry, I suggest that you download my Coventry setups and practice until you can run consistently within a second or two of my best times with it. Then take a shot at the Murasama.

Have fun!

The setups

Alison's Murasama Race Setups (12/5/98 - 5 kb) - Race setups for the Murasama.

These setups go into the setups folder under your GPL players folder. For example, my setups folder is:


This setup collection was zipped with the path included. You can simply unzip the entire archive into your setups folder.

Note that these are setups for the GP car. It is possible to use them for the Trainers, although you'll need to rework the gearing.

To use a GP setup for a trainer, you simply need to change the filename extension. GP setups use an extension ending in 1, while the Advanced Trainer and Basic Trainer's setups end in 2 and three, respectively.

Thus, to use my Murasama Monza GP setup for the Advanced Trainer, create a copy of Ali_Mur_Monza.mu1 and rename it to Ali_Mur_Monza.mu2. Then revise the gearing to be appropriate for the lower redline of the Advanced Trainer engine.

See my Setups page to download my setups for other cars.