Today we're going to be discussing how to find the last one second in kart racing. Now, it can be quite frustrating as you're starting out in karting and you're picking off one to two seconds at a time because you're just starting out and it all seems a little bit too easy. You're like, oh, how good's this going? My times are dropping. Then it comes down to that last second, and it's extremely hard to put it all together to get onto that front pack.
Now, it can be tricky, but we want to look at three key areas as to where drivers are potentially lacking. From my experience of coaching, probably over 1000 or 1500 kids in the last 10 years, these seem to be the three main areas where drivers who are more than one second off seem to be struggling with.
Now, the first point we want to look at is not using the whole racetrack. It might seem simple, but even just giving up 30 centimeters of racetrack on every corner, which some tracks have 12 or more corners, is just slowing you down. So by not using all the track, drivers are either turning the steering wheel a lot more, which slows them down. Or they might be lifting on corners where other drivers are flat out.
As we know, when you turn the steering wheel a lot, it just slows the kart down. When you're taking a tighter line, a tighter circumference around the corners, that's just going to slow the kart down. Or if you're backing off, then you don't have the speed or the acceleration to push the kart towards the edge of the track. You're just rolling around the corners rather than accelerating, and that's going to force and push the kart out towards the outside of the racetrack.
Now, the ways that we want to try and pick up on those key spots, if you're not using the whole track, try and get the driver to look further around the racetrack, because if the drivers vision is just too close to the front of the kart, the chances are they're not paying attention to how much available track is in front of them. Or, if the corner is a flat out sweeping corner and it's not really much of a turn, again, if they're looking too close to their feet, they don't realize, you know what? It's not really a corner. It can be taken a lot faster than what I might be taking it.
The second tip we're going to look at is not using the brakes. Now, this might sound silly, but drivers who don't utilize the brakes very well, and then are more likely to overshoot the entry to a corner. So, even if they back off a little bit sooner than the fastest kids, but then literally don't use the brakes, then by the time they get to the apex point, they've just got way too much speed. That's going to mean you're more likely to lose control when entering the corner, and that less grip generally means less corner speed to a degree.
The second part is that the fast-in approach, then tends to mean that you're getting back on the throttle later, which is extremely costly in our lower performance categories. So, drivers want to get more familiar & more confidence with using the brakes. It doesn't have to be holding the brakes down for three or four seconds. It's just having that short, sharp, quick brake. Then that brings your speed down, get some control, release the brake, turn in & back on the gas. If you need to try and practice this on a practice day when no one else is around in the middle of the straight, just try and slam on the brakes a couple of times, you might have a couple of spins that's totally normal to get familiar with your brakes.
Now, the last point we're going to look at is when drivers turn-in too early. Now this is really a coach killer. It's a parent killer, but it happens all the time to new drivers in karting, no matter the age. Drivers tend to look too close to the front of their karts and they don't open their vision. By not seeing enough of what's in front of them, drivers then start to turn a little bit too soon and what happens then is they apex too early and that causes the kart to slide in the rear.
That makes it a tighter entry to the corner, which generally means you're going to have to go a lot slower around the turn, because you don't have enough track width to go faster on the turn. So looking further around, your apex point will be later & that means you can get back on the accelerator sooner.
Now, just remember that the last second is always the hardest to find, and we're always trying to perfect every aspect of our kart racing. You want to drive to the limit. You want to make no mistakes and make sure that the setup of the kart is on point.
Don't get too flustered if you are in a plateau. When my dad was coaching me, when I was a kid, he used to get quite frustrated, because it was very easy to find that 1, 2, 3, 4 seconds when you're first starting out. But the last second is quite hard for a lot of our younger drivers, they might be able to do two or three corners right on a lap, then make two or three mistakes. The following session they fix up a couple of their mistakes and they make the mistakes in the other corners. So, they just can't quite gel it all together in that one session to almost perfect that lap and get it down to half a second per lap.
I hope this advice has helped you out. If you guys need to know more about your kart racing, we have online programs to suit your driving, your mindset, and your kart set up as well. Take your karting to the next level.