Bringing hire kart techniques to sprint kart racing
We’ve heard it all before. “We dominate hire kart racing, how much
different can sprint karting be?”. Well there is a totally different style of
driving required to make both karts fast and it can’t be translated from
hire karting to racing karts. Drivers who have a lot of experience in hire
karts tend to ride the brakes around corners which is a bad habit to get
stuck into. They also are very aggressive on the steering due to the weight
& size of hire karts and generally the nature of tight corners indoor
circuits tends to have. When you step into a racing kart, start with a fresh
mind and attitude and try not to bring your championship winning hire
kart traits across.
Moving your hands on the wheel
The best position to place your hands to begin with is at 10 – 3 as this allows
the most control over the kart and you’ll be able to react to any sliding the kart
may incur when cornering. If you forget where to hold your hands, you can place
some tape on the steering wheel as a friendly reminder. Try not to change hand
placement from corner to corner.
Turning in too early
I would say it’s the most common trait I witness with new drivers no matter
the age they start is turning into the corners too early. When a driver does
this, it minimises the available track on the entry, so the driver can’t accelerate
where more experienced drivers are, or if they do they will slide wide on the exit
because they are running out of race track. Try placing markers further around
the corner for a later apex allowing you to see more track on the entry. This will
allow the driver to accelerate earlier and in more control on the exit.
Not utilising all the race track
The track is defined by the white lines on the inside and outside of the circuit as well as the kerbing. You want to utilise every inch of the race track where possible to keep your maximum speed around the corners. The wider you can be on the entry and exit, allows the kart to ‘flow’ around the corners more freely which in turn will enhance your speed.
Aggressive Steering inputs
Precision is the key to being fast and being smooth makes this much easier.
Inexperienced drivers will have multiple steering inputs entering a corner
which causes the kart to lose grip and the drivers confidence to take a hit.
You can place a cable tie at the top of the steering wheel to act as a ‘wiper’.
If a driver is seeing the cable tie move frequently when driving around a
corner they know they are having multiple inputs and if the driver can’t see
the cable tie this is a good sign.
Being focused on what’s in front of them
Karts are extremely low to the ground (around 20mm) making the speed feels
twice as fast. Drivers get caught in a habit of only looking a few metres in front
of the kart and can’t adjust their driving quick enough as a result. When you
can look further ahead it will feel as though everything is slowing down for
you and you have more time to make split section decisions. A driver should
always try to look at the next marker they are approaching. So, on the entry
to a corner you should be looking for your apex, at the apex you should be
concentrating on the exit, and at the exit you should be focusing on your
next corner or braking marker. Also at the start of a race, try to watch as far
towards the front of the field as you can, if there is an incident in this part of
the field you know you will need to avoid it and you’ve given yourself the most
amount of time for your brain to process your way around it.
Hold your line
When you’re starting out and you have more experienced drivers powering
past you at what seems impossible speeds, you naturally get intimidated and
try allowing them past you. I would recommend holding your own line and
letting the more experienced driver find their own way past you rather than
you accidently getting in their way. It is far safer for you to concentrate on your
own driving lines and its more predictable for the faster karts if they see you
holding the same lines lap after lap. Once the faster drivers finds a way past,
this is a good opportunity to see where they are driving differently to you so
you can try adapting these lines with more drive time. Remember these guys
have been driving longer than you, so with experience and time in the kart,
there’s no reason one day you can’t be at the same level.