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Bad Habits in Karting (And how to fix them)

As you progress through your racing career, you learn a lot of things along the way. However, not everything you pick up is a good thing. At a certain point in time, drivers start to build bad habits consciously or unconsciously. How said habits develop can vary. It could be a compensation for a skill that a driver is not exceptional in, or doing that habit is simply much easier. Whatever the case may be, these things can slow you down and hinder your progress.

  1. Holding the steering wheel improperly

  • When it comes to hand placement, place your hands at the 3 and 9 o’clock position. Furthermore, don’t tense up and have an extra tight grip on the steering wheel. Rather, it is better to a solid grip, but if you feel arm pump, this can be due to holding too tightly.

 

  1. Too many steering inputs

  • Continuing with the subject of the steering wheel, drivers tend to use multiple steering inputs which can unsettle the kart handling. This can be either an issue physically in terms of strength, or mentally in the sense that driver is scared and anxious. Either way, this habit can cause the driver to get tired easily and may bring up technical issues within the kart. To combat this, make sure to slow your steering inputs on entering a corner. This can give you more control over the go-kart and your arms won’t get tired easily.

 

  1. Braking and Accelerating at the same time

  • This habit mainly happens because the driver is either a beginner, is unfamiliar with the circuit, or anxious while he/she is on track. This habit can cause problems in parts such as the clutch, the engine, and the flow of fuel among others. To counter this, make sure to familiarize yourself with the track both before and during you are on track. Beforehand, make sure to analyze the track and memorize the layout. Ideally you treat it like a switch, one pedal is on, then once you release that pedal you can look to apply the other pedal. This can help you discover the limit safer and avoid accidents.

 

  1. Body Position

  • The way you position yourself when driving a go-kart is crucial. How you sit in the kart affects the balance of the kart, especially in corners. Often, drivers shift their weight opposite to the direction of the corner they are taking. So, say you are taking a right-hander; this means that the driver shifts his/her body to the left. This is due to the g-forces when turning. Therefore, the correct body position is to always keep your body in the middle of the go-kart. this keeps your center of gravity in the middle of kart and helps maintain balance, which can help when it comes to the handling of the go-kart.

 

  1. Not being aware of your surroundings

  • Even if you are all competitors, it is important to exercise proper racing etiquette whenever you are on track. Whether it be practice, qualifying, or the race itself, be aware of your surroundings to keep the session moving smoothly. To do this, make sure to always check your sides and be alert on who is in front of you as well as who is behind you. In the event of an accident, the best way to not get involved in it is not to avoid the drivers involved but anticipate where they will go to make it out the other side. Keeping your vision long (looking further ahead) will also give you more opportunities to miss incidents on track.

 

  1. Too Late on the Brakes

  • Don’t get me wrong. Being late on the brakes is essential to slow the kart down efficiently. But exactly how late is too late? Often drivers miss their marks and find themselves locking up massively, spinning out, which affects your lap time. There is only one way to fix this bad habit, and that is to figure out when and where you are to brake on the circuit. This can be done when you are on track by having markers to look for, so you hit the same points lap after lap. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, just learn from them so you don’t continue to make them session after session.

 

  1. Too Early on the throttle

  • Patience is everything in motorsport. This rings true especially when it comes to applying throttle. Getting on the power too early can lead to oversteer that can see the driver sliding on the exit of the corner. To avoid this, a good rule to follow is to get on the power the moment you hit the apex. For medium to high-speed corners, you are fine hitting the middle apex, but when it comes to tight corners and hairpins (Especially ones that lead to a long straight), you will be better off hitting the late apex and concentrating on a good exit.

 

  1. Not Looking Ahead

  • With corners coming up on you quickly, it is important to prepare to take those corners as early as possible. Aside from knowing your braking and acceleration points, looking ahead to the next corner is one of the best ways to prepare. Say you are currently in the first corner of a circuit, make sure that you are already looking at the apex of turn 2. By looking ahead, you can process quicker and better how to take a corner. From how much steering input you will put to how much kerb you will take, looking ahead can help you figure that out quicker.

 

  1. Not understanding your go-kart

  • To maximize performance on the track, not only should you push yourself to the limit, but also bring out every ounce of performance a go-kart has. And to do so, you must have the ideal setup. However, without the ability to understand and identify the problem a go-kart has and what changes must be done, drivers are hindering their progress. Make sure to stay focused on track and connect yourself with the kart to understand what you feel. As for what changes must be made, make sure to build on your knowledge of go-kart setups.

 

  1. Overthinking

  • Given the high-speed nature of karting and the high level of competition, feeling nervous or any sort of pressure is very much understandable. However, the problem lies when the driver is completely consumed by the pressure. This leads to the driver making a lot of mistakes and everything the driver has learnt being thrown out the window. It is important to not let the pressure take over you. As to how you do this, there are many ways to go about it. From deep breaths to physical movement before getting on the kart, be sure to find a way to calm yourself before you get on track. Listening to music, reading a book, or playing some sport can get different drivers in the right mindset.

 

So those were some bad habits in karting. In the grand scheme of things, what we mentioned here are just some of the most common ones. The quicker you can identify them, the quicker you will progress as a driver. Remember, even the most successful racing drivers have gone through these habits at some point in their karting career.

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