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Basic wet weather techniques

Let’s discuss how to drive in wet conditions, with some basic tips. Now when it comes to driving in the dry and then we change into the wet weather conditions, there's a stark contrast. Straight away there's limited grip when it comes to the wet weather driving that drivers need to pay attention to.

The three tips that we're going to discuss today are wet weather racing lines, your braking techniques, and the throttle modulation. Now, when it comes to driving the fastest way in the wet weather conditions, not necessarily is it always going to be the same line as what you take in the dry conditions. Rubber mixed with water tends to lose grip in these conditions. Drivers want to try and stay off the traditional dry rubber line they see.

The way we distinguish where to drive in the wet, you want to look for a more abrasive surface. That dark, rubbered up line in the dry, you can see very distinctively. And when it starts to rain, that same rubber line becomes quite shiny. It's a nice shiny surface.

When drivers are driving on the track, they want to start to look for that shiny surface and keep their kart away from that shiny surface. Whether that's going inside of the rubber line or outside of that rubber line, that should provide more grip in the wet conditions.

Now, as we know, the biggest factor to going fast in the wet is grip and traction. If we're on the right part of the track, this straightaway gives us a lot more opportunity to go faster, having more control. When we are talking about that slippery surface, when the rubber is on the track, that limits the grip a driver will have.

Obviously, when you're driving, even though you've got wet weather tires on in a lot of instances, you might have slick tires on as well. The tires find it harder to bite into the surface of the track because it's not abrasive. The tires can't really grip into that surface. They’re just sliding on top of that rubber and that causes a driver to lose traction in these conditions.

The most basic way to drive in the wet is just following the outside of the circuit, so the outside white line, because that's where very limited karts drive. There's going to be a little bit of marbles, the pickup from the tires, but also, it's a lot more abrasive on that part of the track so that's where you're going to have more grip when you're driving.

As you start to become more familiarized with the wet weather conditions and your confidence grows, you can start to alternate your lines to cross over the traditional dry racing line. But as a basic tip to start off your wet weather driving career, I'd always recommend driving towards the outside of the racetrack first before going inside of that racing line.

The second tip we're going to discuss is our braking techniques in wet weather. Now, when it comes to the dry, if a driver does lock up the brakes and their tires start to screech, if they hold the brakes on, there’s a chance that they're going to spin out. But when you release the brakes from that locking position and the wheels start to turn, you start to gain some sort of control back. But in the wet weather, can you imagine locking up your brakes? It's going to skid a lot faster in the wet conditions. Again, limited grip on a wet surface and you skid into a corner, the chances are the rear of the kart's going to want to spin out very, very quickly.

When you're starting out in the wet weather conditions, use the brakes more gently. If they do start to lock, try and release that brake pressure as early as you can. Although you might be going too fast into a corner, you can start to use your steering wheel to slow the kart or at least try and steer around the corner.

You might run wide, you might run off the track, you still might spin off, but you've given yourself some sort of chance of getting around the corner when you don't lock up the brakes. Now again, as you get more advanced and more confident in the wet weather conditions, you can start to learn to trail brake, which is to lock up the brakes and then release that pressure into the corner. But that takes a lot of practice, and a lot of mistakes need to be made to master the art of braking in wet weather conditions.

The last tip we're going to touch on for our wet weather techniques is throttle modulation. Now, in the dry with a lot more grip, in most classes, you can plant the acceleration down very, very quickly. Once you brake, you might have a little bit of roll time and you get back on the throttle at the apex. You can hit it quite aggressively. Yeah, the kart might slide out a little bit, but the chance of spinning is minimal.

In the wet, we're talking about limited grip and the track surface being slippery. If we just hit the accelerator very aggressively, there’s a strong chance that we're going to incur wheel spin. Whenever you have more wheel spin, the chances of you spinning greatly increase.

We need to modulate the acceleration. We can start to accelerate quite aggressively. As soon as it starts to wheel spin, we want to gently get off the accelerator and then start to reapply the throttle. Again, you will notice a little bit of wheel spin in the wet weather conditions and a little bit of wheel spin is fine, but if we're wheel spinning for five seconds out of a corner, we're not going faster. We're just sitting basically in the same spot because we don't have any traction out of a corner. Just learning how to modulate the acceleration is important.

Now, this is a lot more important in our faster categories. Thinking shifter karts, X30 or Rotax compared to our mini or our micro classes, where they will still wheel spin out of a corner, but it's a lot less. Now, what we notice in the wet weather conditions is because we're naturally cornering slower than the dry, we want to increase the rear sprocket. That is to try and give us more acceleration to get out of the corners faster.

If our driver isn't modulating the accelerator very well, that just increases the chances of wheel spin. Although it's generally faster to increase the rear sprocket size in the wet weather conditions to counteract the slower corner speeds, if the driver isn't working in with the mechanic or the parent, then the bigger sprocket's not really going to help. It's going to incur a lot more opportunities for that driver to spin out if they don't modulate the throttle properly.

That's it with our wet weather techniques for newcomers. We hope these tips give you a little bit more confidence and keep you on track more often. I would say it's way more important if you can get out and practice in the wet over the dry. That's going to teach kart control, throttle modulation, braking techniques and building your confidence. If you can control the go-kart in the wet, then you're going to have no issues in the dry.

If you guys need to know more information about how to drive in the wet or even just improving your driving techniques, then be sure to check out our Champions Program where we dive deeper on kart control in the rain, using your body to generate more grip and different braking techniques utilized in the wet.

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