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What a Race Weekend of Karting Looks Like

Go-karting has always felt like the Wild West of motorsport. A mix of drivers young and old, pro and gentleman, navigating the vast world of racing go-karts. For a beginner, racing these go-karts is difficult in itself. But believe it or not, there is more than meets the eye. This can be seen in what goes on throughout a race weekend which can look daunting and overwhelming. This article aims to simplify what happens over the course of a race weekend in the world of karting.


Thursday & Friday:

  1. Practice

The first 1-2 days of the race weekend are dedicated to practice. For most, Friday is the only day that drivers have to practice. However, it is also possible that the championship includes two-day practice sessions. Drivers can schedule a track day before the race weekend, to get some extra testing and familiarity with the circuit. Regardless, the goal of practice is to help drivers get accustomed to the track, the weather conditions, and the kart setup required for that layout.


Let’s start with the track itself. If permitted, drivers often do what is known as a track walk. Here, drivers navigate the track on foot. Then, on their own or with the team and coach, discussions arise about how each corner will be tackled, what lines must be taken, braking zones, apex points and overtaking opportunities.


Once the driver is on track, the more challenging process begins. The driver will now navigate the track & concentrate on things such as the braking zones, where to overtake, and the overall performance the kart can achieve.


While figuring this out, setup changes are also made to find that extra bit of performance that separates the good drivers from the great ones. In short, the overall goal of practice is to improve pace and performance. This is done by analyzing each corner that can influence the laptimes.




  1. Warmup

Warmup shares similar aspects to practice. Not all championships possess a warmup before qualifying, but when they do, these are normally a timed session. Meaning drivers will have their transponder (timing device fitted) and the official times will be posted. This is the driver’s last chance to get acquainted with the kart before qualifying.


In regards to setup changes, few are usually made during this time as drivers have more or less their main setup for qualifying and the race. At most, a few minor changes are made for new tyres, but they are nothing major unless something like an accident happens.


  1. Qualifying


Moving on to the first major session of the weekend, qualifying is where the grid order for the heats (more on that later) is determined. The fastest starts up front, while the slower drivers start further back. On average, a qualifying session usually lasts around 6-10 minutes, with drivers aiming to record one fast lap over consistency in this format.


  1. Qualifying Heats


After a qualifying session, next comes the qualifying heats. These heats are small races that last around 7-12 laps where drivers duke it out on the race track. At the local level, there are usually 1-3 heats before the main event (final). Comparing this to the international level, there are likely 4 heats that take place. There are also instances wherein drivers are grouped in blocks if the class is over-subscribed.


It goes without saying that the higher you finish, the higher up you will start the final race. To determine the grid for the finals, this is done by the points accumulated throughout the heat races.


The most common method is to use a reverse points system wherein the first-placed driver gets 0 points, the second gets 2 points, and so on. The less points you have, the higher your starting position. This is used more often as compared to other methods, this prevents similarities in average position.



  1. Last Chance Qualifying

As mentioned earlier, there are championships like the CIK-FIA European championship for example that feature a lot of participants. Furthermore, in qualifying heats the day before, not all spots are secured on the day itself. There may be 3-5 spots still up for grabs. This is where last chance qualifying comes in. Drivers will have another race, where the top 6 finishing positions will join the back of the grid in the main event.


  1. B-Final 

This now begs the question, what happens to the drivers who don’t make it to the final race? For some championships, they simply pack up their stuff and hope for better days in the following races. However, there are cases wherein a B-Final is implemented. Think of it as a warm-up to the main event. Drivers who don't make the main race compete in the B-final. While not as prestigious as the main race there are still a lot of opportunities for drivers who participate. It still serves as a learning experience for these drivers who are given the chance to perform under racing conditions.

  1. Finals 


Finals are the culminating race that shows who truly is the best driver for that certain round. Races last around 16-25 laps and is a straight-up race to the finish. In some cases, a prefinal is also in the books wherein drivers compete in a race similar to the main final, serving as a simulation of what may come later. However, this tradition has slowly died down over the last few years. Trophies are awarded on the finishing positions from the final, once technical inspections have taken place.


That concludes this article which goes into the details of a race weekend in go-karting. Be it casual or professional, this is the format every championship follows for the most part. Keep in mind however that there will always be minor differences. This is why it is important to read up on the rules and regulations of any championship you plan to participate in to better prepare for the week ahead.


To elevate your go-kart racing career to the next level, Kart Class has your back! Under the tutelage of a multi-time race winner and 18 x Australian kart champion David Sera, a variety of training programs are in store for you. For beginners and champions alike, and even track guides on the most notorious race tracks out there, Kart Class will be sure to take you from the back of the pack and to the winner’s circle!

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