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6 Tips On How To Nail Your Race Start In A Go Kart
Before you go out onto the circuit for a race, try to visualise the racing lines you want to drive on the opening lap. Some corners you will need to defend your racing line so proceeding drivers aren’t able to make a pass. Also know the drivers around you and their strengths and weaknesses so you can target these areas once the lights go out. Having a clear plan of what you’re going to do on the first lap will put you one step closer to the perfect start. This is your best opportunity to make up the most positions.
Practice your starts
If you are driving a gearbox kart with standing starts, it’s wise to practice the precise throttle and clutch position for a clean getaway. You may damage some clutch plates in the process, but for the time and money spent on a race event, practice in the lead up can be a major advantage when the racing is so close. If you have rolling starts, some engines require you to squeeze the fuel line or lean the fuel mixture for the ultimate take off. Make sure you’ve had the chance to practice this, so you don’t go too far and hamper your acceleration. Get to know how your engine responds best on take off by practicing different methods.
Get your tyres up to temperature
Karting doesn’t allow tyre warmers, so it’s the drivers responsibility when they get out onto the racetrack to get some heat into the tyres quickly by weaving from left to right on the straight and cornering aggressively. To begin with drivers may spin out when doing this too aggressively, hence why it’s a good idea to practice before a race event. As racing tyres take some time to reach their optimum temperature, drivers who are good at warming their tyres up have a distinct grip advantage in the opening laps and have the opportunity to maximise their passing abilities as soon as the lights go out.
Good reaction time
Most kart races are started by a lighting system, but on the odd occasion can be started with the waving of a green flag. When a driver is approaching the start line, they need to be looking ahead to either the lights or official holding the flag to try judge when the green will be shown. If you are not paying attention, you’re likely to be overtaken by drivers behind you and be vulnerable to an opening corner incident. Watch other races before you to see if there is a common trend to when the starter is showing the green light so you can replicate that on your approach to the start line.
Surviving the opening lap
We’ve all heard the saying, “you can’t win the race on lap one” but you can sure lose it. The first lap is fraught with danger with karts in proximity all vying for the same piece of tarmac. You need to consider the parts of the racetrack where incidents are likely to happen and aim to position your kart in the safest spot which is generally towards the inside of the circuit. When accidents happen on the opening lap they tend to spin towards the outside of the circuit with their momentum, so try not to get stuck on the outside.
Just because you couldn’t execute the best start doesn’t mean you are out of
the race. The start is only the beginning and therefore isn’t a disaster if you lost
positions or it didn’t go to plan. Relax, focus, and remember you still have the race ahead of you to not only regain those positions, but pass others as the race goes on. So many drivers get frustrated from their opening lap incidents that they make irrational decisions which end up as a DNF. Take your time, and any finish is better than a crash.