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How To Brake In A Go Kart

Today's discussion is going to be all about how can I brake better in my kart?

Now, this is the topic that we've received a lot from on our Instagram channels. People asking a lot of questions regarding braking and how they can maximize that part of their driving. We will look at five different ways you can improve your braking zones to try and find the last couple of tenths and pass your opposition.

How good do your brakes work?
The first thing that comes to mind when it comes to braking is learning how good your brakes work. So, we look at different kart brands they're going to have different braking systems and they're going to perform differently. So, if you're jumping in from a CRG to a Tony Kart to a Birel Kart, all these different elements going to come into how the brakes perform and that could throw you out. So, what you want to do is you want to get comfortable with your braking system and the best way to be doing that is to try and use them in a controlled environment first. What I mean by that is in the middle of the straights, start to brake a lot earlier, but try and hit them as hard as you possibly can and see how quickly they start to lock up. Also, the brake travel that you've got in your brakes. Now, some brakes going to be quite long when you hit the brake pedal before they start to lock up. Other times the brake pedal is going to be a lot shorter as well. So, getting familiarized with your braking system is going to help you in the braking zones.

Now we know Kids especially are going to start, going at 90km per hour when they're on some of these long straights. If they're not comfortable or confident in using the brakes, then they're going to be losing those last couple of tenths in that particular part of the racetrack. You want to get comfortable where you can hit the brakes nice and aggressively but short and sharp. If you hold that aggression down, the chance is that the rear of the kart going to start dancing or sliding around and you could lose control. So, when it comes to your braking zone you want to hit 'em aggressively. But as soon as the brake starts to grab that's when you want to start to slowly release that brake pedal and regain control. Get comfortable with your particular braking system and don't worry about what other people are using out there.

Find markers around the race track
The second part when it comes to our braking zones and trying to maximize our performance in this section of racetrack is find some markers on the racetrack. What I mean by this is, is that each lap, when you drive you've got a certain point that you're going to hit the brake pedal on. If you're just guessing and you're just using, you're sort of like, "Okay, look I don't really know where I'm braking." Well, then each lap is going to change. All of a sudden, your lap time's going to start to fluctuate. Consistency is not there. When it comes to trying to overtake people if you don't actually know where you're braking the chance that you might overshoot the pass, or not have the confidence to brake as late as what the other competition is and make the overtake. So, when it comes to markers, look for a tree, a painted line on the track, some tire barriers, you can even break it down to a lot smaller part, some cracks on the track. So, looking for something that tells, yourself and your brain that you have got to brake every time on that particular marker.

What brake technique should I use?
The third tip that we are going to look for when it comes to where braking zones is what technique suits your class? So, when we are looking at techniques there's a mini lock technique and that is when you hit the brakes short and sharp, the brakes start to lock and then you're releasing it very quickly. There is the trail braking technique, where you can start to use the brakes again and holding that brake pressure all the way down into the braking zone towards the apex. And the last one is going to be riding the brakes. When you have got the accelerator down and you've also got the brake pedal down also as well at the same time. See it comes to different techniques, there's different classes that one can work better than the other. Now in our slower classes, our low performance class has been the cadets within the four stroke classes. A mini lock technique is going to be best suited because we're not traveling as fast as what an X30 or a Shifter kart is, certainly to use the brakes for as long. So, you’ve got to find what technique works for you on your given track. Now, a trail braking technique is when you're holding the brakes down for a lot longer as you're approaching the apex of the corner. Now again, that's suited to our faster classes. So Rotax, X30, and Shifter classes, that's something that you might and feel comfortable with. The last one, is riding the brakes, and that's sort of a habit that you don't want to get stuck into because as you go into the braking zone if you're holding it accelerator down and then trying to slow yourself down with the brakes it's going to take you a lot longer to slow down. It's not something that you want to get stuck into.

I did a lot when I was going from a cadet to a junior kart transition. So again, going from a low performance class then stepping up into a high performance category in the junior performance classes. And I'd be like, "Holy crap this thing's going so fast for me." So rather than just backing off and hitting the brakes too hard, I'd spin out a few times. So it was a safety blanket, I'd actually ride the brakes and the accelerate at the same time. Now, although this gave me more stability and control it limited to how late I could use going to the braking zones. Because again I've got the accelerator driving me into the corner. That's something we don't want to get stuck into as well. So it was a hard habit for me to get out of. My dad would always be like, "Mate can you smell the brakes when you're driving?" I would be like, "Yeah, I can smell the brakes." You don't have to smell 'em. Smoke coming off the brakes as you come in, pads are running out a lot faster.

Gain control on entry to a corner to maximise your performance
The fourth part we want to get into our braking zone is getting control. If we go into the corners and we're hitting the brakes really hard and we're starting to lose the rear of the kart and it's starting to slide around on us. Well, again, if we are losing control, that limits the amount of speed that we can go through the corner. So it's about learning how to control the kart and as you're hitting the brakes hard, learning about how much it's going to react, as soon as you hit those brakes quite aggressively. Now, again, some of the karts, you hit the brakes quite hard and it's going to stay pretty much straight. The Arrow Kart, for example, the way that I've always driven is that it hit the brakes and it just dance around me but I learned to control it. That's now my driving style. I jump into a Kosmic Kart, for example, an OTK Kart, their brakes are lot different in the feel. So I hit the brakes the same and it tracks a little bit straighter. It's adjusting your driving style to suit your brakes. But if you don't have control into those braking zones, well then other people who have more control than you are likely to be able to brake lighter and gain those last couple of tenths.

Find what works for you. Like I said, you don't have to always be dead straight into the braking zones but just remember, generally the more control you have into the braking zones, the more speed you're going to carry through the apex of the corner.

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