We’ve all heard this from our coach, parent or mechanic, but
being smooth is an integral part of driving a race kart fast. This
also minimises mistakes while you are driving, which brings about
consistency, another important element of winning races. You need
to have minimal steering inputs, and allow the kart to flow around the
corners so it can accelerate quickly out of hairpins.
There is no substitution to doing laps as often as possible. As a driver,
the only way you can improve your race lines, braking points or
apexes is by being behind the wheel of a kart and learning. Seat time
also allows you to train certain muscles that are specifically worked
tirelessly when driving a kart, which are hard to train in other ways.
Muscle memory is the only way to develop precision; they say it takes
10,000 hours practice to become an expert so get behind the wheel!
Learn how to drive in the wet
Most people stay indoors when it rains on a practice weekend due to
the fact the kart gets dirty, the driver might come off the track multiple
times, and the engine will wear out faster. However, if you want to win
races and championships, at some point in your driving career you will
need to race in the wet weather. When it rains, the rubber race lines
become very slippery and therefore slow, due to the limited grip it
provides. To be fast in the wet, you have to avoid the shiny rubber line
wherever possible, whether that’s going all the way around the outside
of a corner or going to the inside of a kerb to miss this rubber. Once you
find the optimal line, you can try this on other corners on the race track
to find more time, but this comes with experience.
Be prepared to adapt
As a driver you don’t want to get stuck in the same habits lap after lap.
Trying different techniques is one of the keys to being fast. Whether it
be a different racing line on a corner, braking later to find the limit, or
powering earlier to maximise your exit speed. By doing this, you adapt
your driving to suit the conditions on the circuit and improve your times.
Watch other drivers
Sometimes drivers can learn more from watching their opposition in a
practice session or experienced drivers in other categories. Learn from
what other successful drivers are doing and adopt it into your own
driving style. You can also pick up on weaknesses and mistakes others
are making, so that when you get the opportunity to race against them,
you can target this area!