|What is Launch Control?|
Launch control is designed to give every drivers fantasy: quick, consistent acceleration from a standing start. It was originally pioneered in Formula One racing back in the 80's and 90's and later turned up on the spec sheets of more exotic production cars. Today the technology has filtered down to less expensive sports models, and is a commonly available feature in aftermarket engine management systems.
How does it work?
A normal launch goes something like this: Clutch in, and select first gear. Hold the RPM somewhere in the upper range. Step sideways off clutch when ready (Note: the clutch out must be sudden, if you ease it out it'll just burn). Sounds easy, right? Well, there are any number of ways to mess up a launch, but one of the most common is dialling in the wrong revs. Too many and you'll get too much wheel spin. Look impressive but it isn't quick, and you need to keep in mind that those clouds of smoke are actually clouds of money. How much did your tires cost you? Too few revs and you'll suffer the dual humiliation of looking like an idiot and not going anywhere at all.
Launch control, in its most basic form, limits the engines revs to a point where the most torque can be delivered to the wheels with minimal wheel spin. This limit is normally set by the manufacturer, but if you have aftermarket engine management you can set it anywhere you like. More complicated systems integrate with the traction control to cut power or apply brakes to limit wheel spin even further, and some even work with adjustable suspension systems to limit weight shift.
Normally the system can only be activated when the car is stationary and in first gear. With launch control active the accelerator can be fully depressed and the revs will not exceed a predetermined limit. After you've stepped off the clutch and gotten the car moving, the rev limit is lifted and you're free to rev as hard as you want.
In the following videos listen for the revs bouncing off the limiter before the car leaps away with very little wheel spin.
Subaru WRX STI