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How to drift in a go kart

Let’s look at how to drift in a go-kart and the negatives around it. There are not many positives, just a quick heads up! When it comes to drifting in a go-kart, many of our newcomers or our younger drivers think it's fast to be sliding around corners. Now, the reason for this is they play video games online, or it just naturally feels faster when you're drifting, because as karts or cars or anything is starting to drift around and turn, it's losing control. When something is losing control, the chances are you can't drive around as fast because your kart or car is out of control.

We know in karting the term “smooth is fast”. The reason for this is that as you turn into a corner and you're smooth, the inside rear wheel should lift ever so slightly, and that helps rotate and turn the kart. When we are drifting around the corner, the chances are we've got oversteer. We start to turn in and all of a sudden we're having to correct ourselves. Through this moment, the rear of the kart starts to slide, and both the rear ties are planted to the track. If they're both planted to the track, the inside rear wheel doesn't lift, and it’s harder to turn a corner.

What are the ways drivers might experience drifting? Well, the first one is in the wet weather conditions. In the wet, it's a lot easier for the rear tires to break traction due to the slippery conditions. When the rear tires are losing traction, you can drift around any turn. How can we fix up those drifting issues that we might be finding in the wet? It'll all come down to throttle control. If you are experiencing wet weather conditions and whether you're on a slick tire or a wet tire, if you hit the accelerator very aggressively, the chances are that the rear tire's going to start to wheel spin and that could incur some drifting.

Now, a little bit of drifting in the wet, or sliding is natural, because it's very hard just to put your foot down and have complete traction. It’s not like dry or sticky, hot conditions, there’s more chance of drifting and a driver spinning out of control.

The second instance that we might be experiencing drifting is that we're just turning into the corner too many times. We start to turn in, then we turn out, then we have multiple steering inputs, and each steering input creates a little bit of uncertainty for the go-kart. The chances are that the kart's going to start to wiggle around in the rear end. Now, the reason is that as you're turning in, turning out, turning in, that rear wheel is starting to try and lift, and then you're turning out of it. You're returning to apply it, and that constant motion on the steering wheel flicks the rear end out of control.

It's up to the drivers to really start to think about, is their kart in control or out of control? Because there's no point of driving, say, 10 or 12-lap race and experiencing drifting on every corner. Then coming to the pit lane, then their parents or their mechanic or their friends say, "Hey, Dave, you're just sliding around every corner. You're just drifting out there." "Oh, was I? I didn't even know."

So, we really want to start to think about it when we're driving, "Hang on, look at my steering wheel. It's the opposite way to where the corner's going. That can't be right. Let's try something different." Let's try being smoother. Let's try turning later. Let's try accelerating later. Let's just try something different to see if we get a different result, and that could give us more traction, more grip, and more speed.


It's harder to drift in the slower categories. Our cadet classes compared to our X30 classes; the chances are if drivers jump back onto the throttle too quickly. That could make the rear of the kart start to slide and to drift around turns. Now, most of the reason for that is when drivers are getting back onto the throttle too soon, they've still got some steering input applied, so you're still having to turn a corner. They've jumped back onto the accelerator too quickly, and with that, it makes the rear-end start to lose traction and lose control. We've really got to concentrate on powering in the right spots, and that's going to limit the chances of drifting happening around a corner.

When it comes to some positives that we can take out how to drift in a go-kart and is drifting any good in a go-kart, realistically, the only reason or time I would try, and drift is when I'm trying to warm up my tires. What do you mean by warm up my tires? Well, before you go onto the track, the tires are realistically only going to be at the temperature of the day. Unless they're sitting in the sunlight, not under any tent or any shade cover, they're basically going to be just running at the temperature of the day. If it's 20 degrees, that's fine, you hit the track. Then the friction that the tires endure on the track and the G-force that goes through the tires and the kart, starts to increase that temperature.

When we are trying to warm the tires, we are trying to slide the kart purposefully so that we are creating more friction on the track, and that's going to increase the heat in the tires. So in the first couple of laps of a race, a little bit more heat creates a little bit more grip to a certain extent. That's where I find that drifting for the warmup or the formation lap can actually work into your favor, rather than just driving slow and steady and smooth. Once the green light goes out, try to drive at a really fast speed but you don't have the grip because the tires are so cold, then drifting to warm your tires can actually work in your favor.

But as we wrap up this blog on how to drift in a go-kart, ideally for our newcomers and for most drivers, we don't want to be drifting, especially when it comes to an actual race or trying to set your fastest laps. We want to try and keep that steering wheel nice and straight as much as possible, especially in a go-kart. That helps the kart to unload that inside rear tire. It helps the kart to rotate and with that more grip, more traction, we can apply more speed through the corners, and we can carry that speed through the turns and down the straight.

I hope this blog helps you understand when it's okay to drift, and we really don't want to drift, and the reasons why you might be experiencing the kart drifting around corners.

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