Whether you are a beginner who is just starting to learn kart racing, or an veteran racer, everybody comes back to the fundamentals of karting. Because without it, you won’t be able to excel in the next stages of your karting career. With that, here are some basic karting tips that are essential in taking your driving and racing skills to the next level.
- Be smooth on the steering wheel
- As the popular saying goes, smooth is fast. Being able to drive the kart through the entire circuit in a fast yet gentle manner is the first thing drivers must nail. Due to how quick karts corner, some may think that the drivers should aggressively work on the wheel , but it is in fact the opposite. You must push the steering wheel instead of pulling it, with the outside hand (hand on the opposite side of the corner) putting 70% of the force put into the steering wheel while the inside hand does 30%. Ideally, steering inputs must be smooth and minimal because too much steering inputs will scrub off a lot of speed. There are some exceptions however, like on low grip indoor tracks or driving on a wet track for example would require much more aggressive inputs to get the kart to turn
- Do not drift
- While drifting might look cool to the eyes of onlookers, it is actually slowing you down. The tires of a go-kart are meant for gripping so the kart will slow down excessively if it drifts around corners. In addition, the tires will wear off quicker, making it harder to control due to the lack of grip
- Follow faster drivers
- When a faster driver overtakes you in practice, don't try to attempt to overtake him/her back but instead follow them as closely as you can. That way you could learn what lines they take through the lap as well as finding out where you are losing time
- Find the limit, but don’t go over it
- Once you know the lines around the track, you should work on trying to go around it as fast as possible. To do this you need to first feel the kart and find the limit on track by testing out how late you could brake and how much speed you could carry throughout the corner. Once you start to notice yourself making mistakes such as missing apexes or drifting, it means that you've gone beyond the limit and you have to bring back your markers slightly.
- Don’t lean into the corners
- Many people have a tendency to lean their heads, or even their entire upper body, on the insides of corners, while it may feel natural to them, it's best to keep your head straight. Leaning on corners can upset the weight balance of the kart as the weight load shifts (along with your body) to the outside tires on corners, and leaning would remove some of the weight on the outside making it harder to control. As a bonus, keeping your head straight can be considered a dominant stance among onlookers, it might even be perceived as intimidating to some drivers.
- Look where you want to go
- Take note of how it’s worded, look where you WANT to go not where you will currently go. This means to always look ahead and be one step ahead of where the go-kart is in relation to the go-kart track. For example, if you are on a straightaway, be sure to direct your vision into the braking point that is coming up. From there, continue the process of looking ahead. From the braking point, be sure to be already looking at the apex of the corner. And from the apex of the corner, ready the kart by looking at the exit this time. The purpose of looking ahead is not just to position the kart in the best position, but to give your brain more time to process what is coming up, which in turn gives you the best chance to tackle the corner in the fastest way possible.
- Trail brake into corners
- Trail braking is defined as hitting the brakes with full pressure initially, and gradually releasing pressure as you take the corner. This technique is used by many professional karters as this helps them brake later, turn with more grip, and carry more speed through the corner. To do trail braking, hit the brakes with full pressure as you reach your braking marker, just before the brakes begin to lock. Keep note of this as if you hold the brakes for a little too long, it will cause you to lose control. From here, begin releasing the brakes in a gradual manner. Usually, the driver is completely off the brakes as they reach the apex as this is when they begin applying throttle. This technique is best used in higher performance classes.
- Slow In, Fast Out
- The word slow doesn’t seem to be something that a driver should be, but in this tip, that is very much the case. Having a slow entry doesn’t literally mean that it compromises your race. Rather, it means that you are slow enough that the kart is stable, which is needed to set up the best entry into a corner. As for fast out, it is self-explanatory. Be sure that you set yourself up before turning and during the turn itself, such that you can explode out of the corner with as much speed as possible. This approach is best for lower horsepower classes where exit speed is critical.
- Keep the rpm’s high
- Keeping the revolutions per minute (rpm) high can help in carrying a lot of speed and exiting the corner quickly. There are many ways to do this, and one of them is the trail braking method mentioned earlier in this article. One thing to avoid however is engine bogging. This is the exact opposite of keeping the revs high wherein the revs are too low and there is a delay in acceleration. This results in a very slow exit. To avoid this, be sure your kart is in good control through the whole corner.
That concludes some of the basic tips in karting. Rest assured that once you nail the basics, you will be able to move up to the higher ranks and the more advanced lessons. And who better to coach you in the world of karting than Kart Class’s beginner program! Here, under the guidance of 18-time Australian Kart Champion David Sera, you will learn and nail the basics, setting you up for success as you make steps in your karting career.