In a previous article, we covered the different types of corners that a driver can encounter on a race track. Examples of these would be a hairpin, a double-apex corner, a 90-degree corner, and a chicane. With so many types of corners, it is natural that these corners are also taken at different speeds, meaning that these corners must be tackled differently. With that in mind, how do we take certain corners at slow, medium, and fast-paced speeds?
When tackling different corners at different speeds, there are three key things to consider. First, is the apex. There are three different apexes you can take. Early, middle, and late apex. These apexes serve as a guide as to which line you should take.
The other thing a driver must do is to establish a goal on what you need to accomplish for every corner. For example, the driver may aim to prioritize exit speed. On the other hand, the driver may also aim to carry as much speed as possible through a corner or sequence of corners.
With all these now established, let us take a look at how to tackle corners at different speeds.
Any corner that requires a lot of braking to slow down the kart is automatically slow. Some examples of corners that fall under this category are hairpins and double apex corners.
For hairpins, these corners are usually taken with a late apex. This is because slow corners are usually followed up by a long straight. Therefore, getting a good exit that allows you to have the maximum top speed on the straightaways is essential.
A Hairpin at New Castle Motorsports Park (New Castle, Indiana)
When it comes to double apex corners, simply take the geometric apex. These corners should be aimed to be driven as one long corner, rather than two separate corners. Less steering input will maintain a higher speed and more grip. Furthermore, double apex corners are very long corners that require time off the throttle. With that, carrying speed throughout the corner must be the driver’s priority.
Turns 4 and 5 at Speedsportz Racing Park (Houston, Texas)
In some cases, it is possible to come across a sequence of slow corners. Just like the image shown below:
Two Consecutive Hairpins at AMR Motorplex (Homestead, Florida)
We can see here that this sequence follows a long straight before leading into a tight hairpin, which then repeats in the next part of the sequence. In the instance the driver encounters something similar to this, it is important to think of the corner ahead, but also what will come after that. This can mean that the driver has to compromise the exit in the first corner to get a better line heading to the second corner, ultimately losing as little time as possible.
Despite its simple look, these corners are still quite a handful that can cost you or make you gain a lot of time. The most common example of a medium-speed corner is a 90-degree corner.
Turn 1 at AMR Motorplex (Homestead, Florida)
For 90-degree corners, the goal is often to carry as much speed as possible because similar to the hairpin, a straightaway often comes right after these kinds of corners. And to do so, the geometric apex is the driver’s best bet.
Chicane at Musselman Honda Circuit (Tucson, Arizona)
The same cannot be said for chicanes however. These kinds of corners usually resemble that of two 90-degree corners put together. Drivers will want to concentrate on where the kart is placed on the exit of the first turn, as too much speed can sometimes ruin the following corner entry. There is simply no use in carrying as much speed into the first part of the chicane as what will follow up quickly is another corner.
A hairpin with a larger radius at GoPro Motorplex (Mooresville, NC)
One last example for medium-speed corners is another hairpin. However, this time, the difference is that the radius is much bigger, making the corner longer and more flowing in nature. Therefore, the driver must stay close to the geometric apex, to carry as much speed as possible. Drivers should also take note if the corner has any camber or embankment to them, as this will also affect the speed being driven.
As the name suggests, these corners are not for the faint hearted. The fastest corners in the world of go-karting often see the driver applying no brakes at all. Instead, the driver slightly releases the throttle to lose a bit of speed to make the corner in the fastest way possible. In other cases, however, the driver takes the corner flat out without lifting off the throttle.
With little to no braking needed in these types of corners, the same applies to the amount of steering. With the high-speed nature of these fast corners, it is important to lose little to no speed. To do so, little steering input is needed to drive smoothly, but fast on these corners.
A Kink at New Castle Motorsports Park (New Castle, Indiana)
Let us look at this corner from New Castle Motorsports Park as an example. Given the very large radius of the corner, the driver can easily take this corner by only lifting off the throttle for a brief moment or in some classes full throttle.
Esses Section at Utah Motorsports Campus (Erda, Utah)
Esses are a fast sequence of left and right corners that are long and flowing. In our example, carrying speed is best given that the corners take up a large portion of the track and where most lap time can be found. Setting up the following corner is essential to driving the best line, with the least steering input and the maximum grip.
And that concludes how to take corners at different speeds. One more tip, be sure to look at the rubber laid out on the track. The rubber that is left on the track due to tire wear is a good indicator as to what line a driver should take as this shows what line most of the competition takes.
Also, to learn more and master the tracks that were mentioned in this blog, Kart Class offers multiple Track Guides that can help you understand every little detail of a race track!