When it starts to rain, there’s a different driving style required to drive in the wet weather. Think about the countless lap’s drivers drive in the dry conditions to better their lap times, but when it rains, they might stay at home where its warmer, engine rebuilds aren’t required as frequently and cleaning the karts isn’t as necessary.
I was told when I was a kid, that if you can drive in the rain, you can drive in any conditions, so it was a mission of my dads to do as many laps in the wet as I could. He understood that kart control, throttle modulation, adjusting to different race lines would all have more merit than just driving in perfect conditions trying to gain .1 of a second.
You see, when it comes to driving in the rain, look at the time difference between the top 10 karts. In the dry it may vary by .1-.2 of a second, then you look at the results in the rain and it can vary by up to 1 second between the first 10 karts.
This is because there’s more skill required to driving in the rain. There’s more emphasis on the kart setup to generate enough grip and traction for the driver to work with & with more risk involved, the more experienced drivers can push the limits that only a few drivers believe are possible.
The first tip we will work on today is where to drive the kart when it rains.
The traditional racing line in the dry is quite easy to see once a few karts have driven around the circuit. A black rubber line forms where most karts are driving, so it’s visible to see from a driver’s perspective.
Now when it rains, this rubber line will become shiny, with the water mixed to the rubber. If you attempt to drive on the same line, you will find in the rain that you don’t have as much traction as other parts of the track.
How is this possible? Water mixed with rubber is like an ice effect. Rather than the tread of the wet tyres trying to grip to the abrasive surface, the rubber has filled that abrasion and now the water is sitting on top rather than in the cracks.
So as a driver, it’s key to keep your vision up, so you can spot the shiny section and then drive just outside (or inside in some instances) to stay off the traditional dry racing line. You should notice more traction on this part of the racetrack.
Now we know in the rain, we don’t have as much grip and traction as the dry. So, with that in mind, we need to use the pedals more gently to not lose traction as easily.
If we just jump on the throttle on the exit of a corner, the most likely outcome is the rear tyres will be wheel spinning, and this is where we see most drivers spin out. Rather than applying the throttle from nothing to 100%, the driver needs to slowly increase the pressure to limit the wheel spin, and with this will have more exit speed as the kart isn’t just spinning its tyres.
The same applies to entering a corner. If we’re approaching a corner at speed, then all the sudden jump on the brakes too aggressively, the rear tyres will lock up. When a kart locks up in the rear, it wants to slide around, so it can be hard to control.
If you find yourself in a position where the rear tyres are locked, and you’re beginning to lose control, try releasing the brake pressure & as the tyres begin to spin again the kart will straighten up. Drivers will need to be mindful that with this approach they may be entering the corner with too much speed but at least they will still be pointing the right direction rather than facing backwards headed towards the gravel.
As soon as drivers can wrap their head around these two tips, they will have more traction which is the most important factor when it comes to driving in the wet weather. We dive into more detail, the best braking techniques and how to shift your body weight to gain more traction in our Champions Program.