The world of go-kart racing can get pretty complicated at times. Despite the goal being simple, which is to go faster than your opponents, drivers have many ways to go about this. However, there are basic fundamentals on how to be fast that have been developed long ago that are still effective and useful until now. All these tried-and-true methods are ones that almost all drivers swear by. So, these are 10 methods that are guaranteed to make you quicker on track.
Follow the racing line
The term “racing line” is something no doubt every fan of motorsports has heard. The racing line is known as the quickest way around a racetrack or circuit. This line ensures that you are maximizing every inch of the track, spending the least amount of time turning, and carrying a lot of speed while doing so, all of which is needed in order to be quick around a circuit. There are many racing lines in a circuit. And depending on multiple factors such as weather conditions, tire wear, and the situation at hand, a driver must be able to adapt to the changes accordingly. For example, if the track is wet and a massive downpour is occurring, you may need to take wider lines and later apexes because that is often where grip is found on a wet racetrack.
Be physically and mentally fit
Maneuvering go-karts is already a strenuous activity physically. But drivers often fail to recognize the mental side of driving. The ability to have a good start, stay focused, and keep cool under pressure are some of the mental aspects of go-kart racing. Almost everyone knows how to keep a physically fit body, which is to stick to a diet and consistently train with purpose. However, how does one exactly train mentally you may ask? Well, the best way to do so is to put yourself in hard situations and recreate ones that you may experience on the racetrack. From there, it is up to you, the driver, on how to get out of it. Abilities and skills such as being able to keep your cool, quickly reacting to what is happening on track as well as how to respond are some of the many things you will pick up if you train your brain.
This tip is simple, yet hard to execute. All the driver has to do is simply be one step ahead. Say you are entering a corner. At this point, you must now be preparing how to tackle the next corner. While the concept is easy, this skill is no doubt one that is hard to master. At the beginning, you may see yourself going wide, missing apexes, or entering the corner too early or too late. However, as you slowly get used to being one step ahead, you will see improvement in your lap times drastically. This tip works because of the nature of racing. With it being a fast-paced sport where things come at you at a rapid pace, being able to anticipate what is to come helps you prepare mentally as well as to calculate how to handle the situation at hand.
Stay in the middle
Balance affects everything in a go-kart. Therefore, to keep things simple, make sure to stay in the middle of the go-kart and avoid moving around too much. Doing so keeps the go-kart’s center of gravity, which in turn maintains good balance in the kart. This makes the go-kart easier to drive because its movements are predictable. Knowing what will happen to the go-kart if the driver performs a certain action is useful in order to be quicker. Keep in mind that there will always be movement that happens when you are inside the go-kart. But as long as you limit these movements, they will not become a hindrance to your driving.
Hit your apexes
The apex of a corner is the clipping point when a driver can start to straighten the wheel on exit. This apex is part of the racing line which helps in shortening the distance covered. This helps the kart enter and exit the corner with ease, while carrying as much as speed as possible. There are 3 types of apexes, those being the early, middle, and late apex, all of which carrying advantages and disadvantages. First and foremost is the early apex. The middle or traditional apex is the geometric way around a corner. Geometric apexes can be helpful in keeping the speed up in a corner and is beginner friendly as well. Lastly, the late apex requires you to slightly overshoot the corner. However, if done correctly, the driver can exit the corner with a lot of speed. Late apexes are often used in tight corners and/or if a long straight is coming up.
Setup your kart accordingly
Even if you are the fastest driver out there, if you cannot maximize the performance of your equipment, you will always be limited. That is why, setting up your go-kart to your liking is crucial in order to gain extra performance and maximize it. This tip is difficult to execute because it includes a lot of trial and error. If you know what you want in a go-kart and take note of the advantages and disadvantages of the different kinds of setups you will try, you will eventually find the setup that suits you. Our kart setup program can help guide you with what changes are required in different conditions.
Hand placement on the steering wheel
Where you place your hand on the steering wheel can affect how you perceive and feel the go-kart when driving it around a circuit. The best place to hold the steering wheel is at the 9 o’ clock position for your left hand, and the 3 o’ clock position for your right. Make sure as well to have a firm grip on the wheel. Do not confuse this with having a stiff grip however, as having a stiff grip limits your ability to maneuver the go-kart. While this is subjective, most drivers you see are always holding it that way because it is the most convenient, comfortable, and efficient method to use when driving.
Push the steering wheel
While on the subject of steering wheels, this tip is also crucial in that aspect. Beginner drivers and at times experienced ones tend to pull the steering wheel. This could be due to fear, lack of knowledge and expertise, or maybe even something mental or psychological. Pulling the steering wheel is by no means ideal as this makes the kart difficult to drive & ruins your balance. However, pushing the steering wheel, not only do you have more of a grip on the steering wheel, but turning corners becomes much more efficient. This means that the driver can turn the corner much easier whilst using less effort.
Smooth is fast
The more movements done in a go-kart, the slower you become. This is due to multiple reasons, which include but are not limited to sudden weight transfer, more distance covered, and potentially more mistakes happening. Limiting movements to a minimum is key in order to be fast and driving smoothly can do this. Turning the steering wheel smoothly and avoiding jerky movements is one of the ways to do so, but it is not limited to this. Being able to step on the throttle in a smooth and gentle manner is another way and limiting movement in your body also helps.
Adapt to the situation
All previous 9 tips are no doubt useful. However, everything has a time and place. The same goes for racing go-karts. What worked during qualifying may not work during the race, and vice versa. Thus, the ability to adapt to the situation that a driver experiences is what makes them a good or great driver. This ability can be picked up only if a driver continues to race. Furthermore, this ability is picked up over time and simply not learnt overnight. So, to be able to adapt to situations, keep on racing! From there, you will develop instincts, formulas, and methods to handle certain situations.