One way to take your driving ability to the next level is by being one step ahead on track. To do so, drivers use a technique wherein they look ahead and increase their field of vision. For example, as the kart heads into the first corner, the driver is already looking at the apex. By the time the kart reaches the apex, he/she is already looking at the exit. By doing this, drivers can give their brain more time to process what is happening on the circuit and how to best handle it.
When we compare this to looking at your reference points only moments before you arrive there, this is less effective as you are forced to react based on your instincts. This can cause different braking points, missing your apexes, as well driving under the limit (using little to none of the track on exit) or beyond it (going wide and potentially off the track). All of this contributes to slower lap times, inconsistent pace, and more mistakes.
This is why looking ahead is the best technique, and one that almost all drivers use. While this technique is hard to get used to, by constantly doing it, drivers unlock a ton of pace and improve their lap times. To help do this, here is a step-by-step guide on how to look further into a corner. To help visualize every step of this technique, we will use a corner from Hume International Raceway in Puckapanyal, VIC.
Look at your braking marker as you head into the corner.
As you drive into the corner, begin to look at your braking marker that you have on the racetrack. This can help you get familiar with where to brake. Rather than simply guessing from lap to lap, identify things such as painted lines, trees, to even rubber that has been laid on the track. Anything can be a braking marker so long as they help guide and remind you on when to brake before the corner.
Begin by looking at the braking marker as soon as it comes into your field of vision. This can help the brain concentrate more on where and when to brake on the racetrack because the driver is already firmly engraining the braking marker. In doing so, be sure to keep an eye on how you are handling the kart.
Look at the apex as you reach your braking marker
The next step in widening your vision is to look at the apex when the go-kart arrives at the braking marker and the driver begins braking. Begin looking at the apex as soon as you start applying full pressure on the brakes, up until you are about to turn into the corner and hit the apex point, also known as the middle of the corner and the point closest to the inside of the corner.
The moment you begin braking, be sure to look at the apex because this can help the brain calculate how to attack the apex that follows. Hitting the apex is one of the most important things when it comes to taking a corner as it helps shorten the distance of the track and helps you carry more speed while doing so.
The dimensions of the apex also matter and can help you decide where exactly in the apex do you look. For example, if the curb is flat and won’t cause your kart to bounce or suffer any damage, that means looking deep into the apex is the fastest way. However, if the apex is sharp and can cause you to lose control of the go-kart, the driver must go about it another way.
Look at the exit as you reach the apex.
Lastly, now that the kart has reached the apex, it is time to direct your attention to the last part of the corner and that is the exit. As soon as the driver start applying throttle the moment after hitting the apex, begin focusing on the exit of the corner. Start by looking at the curb to train your brain where to go as soon as you are past the corner.
Keep in mind that the curb is not always the place to look at when exiting a corner. All tracks are unique and have special characteristics about them. Things such as lack of curb, a ton of run-off and the barriers surrounding the circuit (in case the track is temporary, such as the Supernats Track in Las Vegas) can affect where the driver looks upon exit.
Those are the three phases and steps on how to look further into a corner. Remember that there are two main reasons as to why this technique is effective. First, is that it helps prepare the driver for what is to come by being one step ahead to process what is happening on track. Secondly, by being one step ahead, it helps the driver stay on the limit which helps in reducing lap time, better performance, and overall being much quicker on the racetrack. If you want these three things as well as take your driving and racing career to the next level, then join our Kart Class Champions Program which teaches you the fundamentals of go-kart racing from driving techniques to race craft.