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Types Of Corners In Racing

The corners that make up a go-kart race track define it. For example, more hairpins make tracks slower. Multiple kinks and chicanes make it a faster kind of race track. Lastly, for tracks with a bit of both and corners such as esses and 90-degree corners make for a balanced circuit. With so many corners to take into consideration, how does one tackle all of them? In this article, we will answer that for you with the different types of corners on racetracks.

  1. Hairpin
hairpin image

Let’s start with the corner where you can either gain or lose the most lap time in the hairpin. This corner is typically slow in nature, however there are circuits with larger radius that can allow the kart to carry more speed into a corner. Depending on the corner, they both require different approaches. For hairpins that are tight and with a small radius, drivers tend to take a late apex (a part of the apex that can be found at the near end of the corner). Doing this allows the driver to get to the throttle earlier, which is needed when long straightaways proceed.  

When it comes to medium speed hairpins with a larger radius, the geometric apex is what drivers go for. This is the apex that is located directly in the middle of the corner. This apex encourages carrying as much as speed as possible, which is needed for flowing corners like the one mentioned.

Hairpins are known as the best corner to make an overtake as drivers attempting to pass have more opportunity to brake later to complete the pass. 

  1. Esses
Esses  image

As the name suggests, this kind of corner, or sequence of corners in this case, resembles that of the letter “S” or a snake. Because of how quickly one corner follows another, taking the right line and hitting the right apex for all corners is crucial. This is because messing up one part of the esses will set you up for failure for the entire esses portion.

Every corner that makes up this section could be different in some shape or form. Always remember the different apexes in a corner, and an earlier entry will force the kart wider on exit, which may not suit this sequence of turns. For a better line, you may want to take the middle or geometric apex whereas if you wish for more speed on exit you may opt for a later apex instead. 

When it comes to esses, overtaking is harder to achieve, as it’s generally one line through these sections. If you manage to keep up, you may find yourself able to overtake in the corners after an esses section.

  1. Double Apex
Double Apex image

Perhaps the most unique out of all the corners in this article, the double apex is a beautiful corner when taken right and with the correct line. Drivers will look to hit the first apex, allow the kart to flow out and then hit a second apex on the final part of this corner.  In this example, you must hit the apex, and proceed to go wide. Drivers can make this one continuous corner and allow the kart to flow through the corner, rather than making it two separate corners. 

These types of corners, drivers can attempt to overtake on the entry to the corner, but might struggle into the second part, with the tighter circumference slowing them down.

  1. 90-degree corner
90 degree corner

Despite looking simple, make no mistake that these corners are still quite the challenge. With the radius of these corners, they are usually medium-high speed in nature, and is a common staple of any go-kart track. In this case, carrying speed is crucial. These corners can also lead onto a long straightaway, and if that is the case, you may want to prioritize exit speed.

Newer drivers lack confidence in these types of turns, as the higher speed when cornering can result in the kart losing control easier. By opening up the corners, and using more racetrack, drivers can make up a lot of time in this type of corner. 

  1. Chicane
Chicane image

A corner that can be considered as two 90-degree corners combined, the chicane is another common corner on go-kart tracks. As the picture suggests, chicanes consist of a left corner followed by a right, however the opposite of this can still be considered a chicane. Every chicane is unique so it is important to remember that each corner of a chicane comes in many variations. For instance, the first corner can be sharper than the second, and vice versa. Speed is also a factor as some require a lot of braking to make the corners whereas others can be taken with a light lift off the throttle or simply flat out. Lastly, be wary of the curbs. Depending on the height of the curbs, the driver can either go over the entire curb (assuming it is not too elevated or if flat) or lightly graze over it (assuming the curb is elevated and can damage the kart).

Drivers will want to pay close attention to where the kart is positioned in between the chicane as this can affect the drivers exit speed and race line. 


With that, those are five of the most common corners you can find in any go-kart track. While this comprehensive guide covers some corners, keep in mind that every track is different, and every corner is unique. What is mentioned here are simply the basics and can serve as a guide or reference on how to tackle more difficult corners that share the same characteristics mentioned here. 

If you wish to get quality coaching that can help you tackle every corner in the best way possible, Kart Class is here for you! You have the opportunity to be guided by multiple time Australian Karting Champion David Sera on not just cornering, but racecraft, mindset and driving techniques! 

To learn more, click the link here: Champions Club 6 month program - Kart Class Products

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