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How To Have A Good First Lap

One of the most important parts of a race is the first few laps. With all drivers bunched up together, there are many opportunities to gain a position or two in the opening laps. However, it is easy to get greedy in doing so, which can result in losing positions on track. Worse, you could even get involved in an accident and end your race early. The first lap of a race is truly a free-for-all and carries much more risk. However, if done right, you can increase the chances of standing on the top step with good decision making. With that, here are some tips on how to have a good first lap.


Warm Your Tires

warm your tyres

Warming up your tires gives them grip which helps in braking and turning on the opening laps.

During the formation/ warm-up lap, which is a slow lap, this gives drivers a chance to get a feel for the track. Make sure to get your tires warmed up and in the right temperature. Weaving left and right, braking hard, and turning aggressively are just some of the ways you can load the tires which in turn puts temperature in them. Because the race is yet to start, naturally the tires would be cold, which means it is lacking in grip. Without grip, the kart won’t brake as efficiently and corner well, which can lead to losing positions in the opening laps.


Ready on the Brakes and Throttle

Drivers are always close together on the first lap

Drivers are always close together on the first lap.

All braking markers you have are basically useless when it comes to the first lap of the race. Here, you rely on your instincts and what the drivers around you do. With so many things happening on track, be sure to always apply the brake and throttle in the lead up to the lights going out. This loads up the engine, and rather than dropping RPM, gives you the best chance of a good slingshot. Always stay sharp in the event the drivers in front of you suddenly slow down, or even if you need to avoid a huge shunt, apply the needed pedals accordingly. Couple this with good decision making and a bit of luck, you can definitely capitalize on what is happening around you and use it to your advantage.


Be One Step Ahead

rain catches out drivers

Rain catches out a few drivers on slicks at Karting Genk

Aside from reacting and adjusting to your surroundings, you must also try to predict and anticipate what might happen in front of you for the next few corners. By doing so, you can potentially avoid any accidents that might happen, and capitalize on opportunities that might open. For example, if you see three drivers jockeying for position, you can anticipate that there will be contact and an accident between them. When the contact does happen, not only will you be able to come out of it the other side, but also gain positions because of their misfortune. Make sure to also anticipate the weather as this affects how your kart performs.


Defend The Inside Line

Drivers generally prefer the inside line when it comes to overtaking.

Drivers generally prefer the inside line when it comes to overtaking.

The inside line of a corner always presents a good opportunity to get ahead of the driver in front. And as chaotic as the first laps of a race usually are, you can expect that many drivers will try to send one down the inside, which can see you losing a good number of positions. So, if you do not compromise your exit and leave yourself vulnerable to being overtaken on other parts of the track, be sure to cover the inside when you can. You can also try squeezing the driver if you are side-by-side as you barrel into the corner. This can pressure them to a mistake or backing out of the move entirely.


Choose Your Battles

Remember that a race is a marathon, not a sprint. Therefore, even if an opportunity presents itself, sometimes it may be a risk not worth taking. Always think of the bigger picture. If gaining a position in one corner means you lose 2 positions in the next, is it worth it? Worse, it could even end your race if things go badly. So, never pounce on every move or opportunity you see. Instead take the risks that only put you in the best spot to do well in a race. At the end of the day, it’s not how you start the race, but how you finish it. You can’t win the race on the opening corner, but you sure can lose it.


That concludes this article on how to have a good first lap. While having a good start is very important, never forget that the challenges do not end there. If things do not go your way on the first lap, there is every chance for you to comeback and fight your way to the top. If you want to be at the top of your game and take you racing to the next level, be sure to check out our Kart Class Beginner Program! Here, not only will you learn more on having a good first lap, but also on how to have a good race that will ultimately bring you home some silverware. 

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