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Tyre Management

Tire management is something drivers don’t always think about, but it plays a big role in the results. Now a lot is determined by how hard or how soft the compound of tire that you're driving on. It also has a lot to do with the track surface itself, so whether it's abrasive or it's a smooth surface and the temperature of the day does have a bit to play with how tires are going to wear.

The first thing we're going to try and look at with tire management is that drivers need to understand they can't push a hundred percent on soft compound tires throughout the whole race meeting. Sometimes you might be doing qualifying, four heats, and a final, it might add up to 60 to 75 laps of racing and when you've got a soft compound tire and you start to overdrive it, they overheat.

That's when you start to see tires starting to grain. Now it's very hard for a tire to grain and then, all of a sudden, start to look clean again. So, it's at that point where you want to almost push hard in qualifying to get your ultimate lap time in, and then if you've got the opportunity to in the heat races, maybe bring it back like 10% of your driving so you don't drive qualifying laps in all your heat races. Then in the final, you've got a little bit up your sleeve because you've got more tread than your other competitors do.

Now what we saw when we came to the Perth AKC race, was that the track itself was quite abrasive and was quite sandy in some sections. So, what that does is that if you think about grating up some cheese, for example, if you were to slide the cheese across the grater, it's going to obviously peel and fall apart.

If you were to do it on a smooth surface like just on a kitchen bench, not much is going to happen to the cheese, so it's just going to sort of flatten out.

Now, if we investigate our tires when we're driving on a smooth surface, even if we're sliding around the corners, yes, it will start to wear them out a little bit. But if you start to slide on an abrasive surface, going back to our cheese grater example, that’s when you start to slide, and that tire starts to grate. That's your tread starting to wear away. Now once you wear away that tread, you can't then get it back. So, it's very important that in our heat races that we don't over push the limits and we don't slide as much, so we don't grate those tires as much.

Where we see the two instances where people start to overdrive is in the braking zones. They start to slide the kart in the braking zones. Again, sliding, grating those tires, treads starting to disappear, but also, they're getting too excited on the throttle, so they jump back on the acceleration too quickly.

Again, start to power slide out of a corner, starting to grate those tires, our tread starts to go missing. Drivers need to be mindful that in a heat race you might not want to push a hundred percent for the whole race if you are not under pressure or you can't catch the pack in front of you, just hold position, try, and save something for the later parts of the weekend.

The second part, which can cause tire degradation, we need to concentrate on, is our tire pressures. It can go both ways, being either too low or too high, but generally we see it when we are too high in the pressures, and they start to overheat. When you look at a tire and it starts to overheat, you're going to see it graining. It's going to have these little wiggly lines in the tires, and that's normally a sign that the tires are overheating and they're starting to slide as well.

So just be careful not to slide the kart too much with... If you do have high pressure, obviously you're going to see lap times peaking around 50 or 60% of the race, and then if it starts to drop away in the last few laps, that's a sign that you're a little bit too high in the tire pressures.

Back to our driving style and it's just about not throwing the kart around too much. You might find yourself getting that extra 10th of a second on a lap by braking a little bit later and having to back it in a bit. But when it comes back to that driving style, it's driving a little bit smoother, a little bit straighter and powering later when the steering is straighter.

These are the things that are going to help you out a lot more over the journey of a race weekend.

The last one I'm going to touch on when it comes to tire management is our camber in the front end so it's a bit more related to the setup of the kart. Now, if we find that we are having to run quite a lot of negative or quite a lot of positive camber in our tires to get that ultimate speed, what we might find that after a few sessions, the tires start to wear out either the inside or the outside of the tires.

But then throughout the race weekend you must start standing those tires up because otherwise if it starts wearing the inside of the tires too aggressively and the longer the weekend goes, it's going to keep wearing it towards the middle of the tire, so you don't have a lot of tread pattern left. You might be able to just stand up those tires, increase your camber into the positive or at least to no camber at all, just so the tire wears more evenly as well. That's something you can do with your set-up of the kart to help that tire management from qualifying all the way through to the final race.

Hopefully those tips have given you a little bit of a heads-up when it comes to tire management because the driver, they can alter how much grip they have when they're driving, but also from a setup point of view, our mechanics, or our parents, they can also have a big effect on how the tire's going to be worn throughout the race weekend.

These are areas that we discuss in our programs. If you are a parent looking to try maximize your kid's driving and you think you let them down a bit, then our Kart Setup program is where we make the right adjustments at the right times.

1 comment

  • Hey, there! As of today, my uncle is still working at a race track as a pit crew but his main job lately is to check on the tires. You deserve some credit for reminding us that our tires must be well-pressurized so they can last longer. He should remember this tip when dealing with a tire distributor later. https://frisbyracetire.com

    Sam Andrews

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