Are you beginning to learn the ropes in karting? Let us guide you through the most common pitfalls so that you can nail those lap times.
There are very few sports as thrilling as karting. It’s fun whether you’ve been once, or hundreds of times, and part of the thrill is being allowed and encouraged to go as fast as you can – something that’s very rare these days!Driving a kart, however, is very different to driving your everyday car, and there are some common mistakes which will hinder your speed. Avoid these traps and you’ll be sure to beat your friends – or even create a solid base on which to build your motor racing career.
1. Inconsistent hand placement on the wheel
Unlike in a car, karts have very sensitive steering, so keep your hands at the ‘1/4 to 3’ position at all times and do not let it drive you have to drive it. Not only will this give you more precise control over the kart, but you‘ll be able to react to a slide much quicker.
2. Not Braking Hard enough!
Kart brakes act on the rear wheels only for anything but a “shifter kart”, meaning braking like you do in a road car simply will not work. The best way to brake in a kart is the opposite to on the road: you should hit the brakes hard and firm initially so they almost lock up the rear wheels, then as you get closer to the apex of corner, gradually and smoothly release them this is the best way to be fast! For more advanced drivers, try researching ‘trail braking’ to help you find those last few tenths off your lap times.
3. Turning before you need too!
A major thing you often see from both beginners and even more experienced drivers is turning into corners before they need to. If you find yourself sliding wide when exiting the corner, or you think you are losing speed out of the corners, try slowing the kart down a bit more before you turn and aim for the later apex. If you get the entry correct, you should be able to accelerate at the apex of the corner and not run wide at the exit.
4. Not using all the track!
The track is most likely defined by the white lines and curbs. You are allowed to use as much of the track as you want to, so utilize every inch to go faster. The wider you can make each corner by being at the circuit’s edge on entry and exit, and getting to the apex, the easier it will be to carry more speed through the corner.
5. Over Driving the kart!
In a go-kart, being precise is the magic to being fast, and being smooth makes this much easier. A lot of beginner drivers will turn the steering wheel abruptly, causing the front to slide – this is known as under-steer, and the kart will feel as if it wants to go in a straight line. When turning a kart, apply the steering smoothly and gradually so you don’t surprise it. Imagine there is a cup of water in the kart that you don’t want to spill. See how smoothly F1 Drivers turn into the corners. That’s what you’re trying to achieve!
6. Not looking far enough down the track
Going karting for the first time can be and most likely will be a sensory overload. Karts are extremely low to the ground, making everything feel that much faster, but people compound this by looking only a few in front of the kart. Looking further down the track will make everything feel like it’s happening slower, because your brain has more time to process what’s about to happen. As a rule, you should always look at the next section of track that is ahead of where you are. So when braking, you should be looking at the apex, at the apex you should be looking at the exit, and at the exit you should be spotting the next corner. It seems small but it makes a huge difference.
7. Get out of the way
A kart circuit is an intimidating place for beginner drivers, and this is made worse by experienced drivers flying past you at what seem like impossibly high speeds. First, remember that they’ve been doing it a lot longer than you, and there’s no reason why one day you can’t be just as good, if not better than them with practice. Until then, just ignore faster karts passing you. It’s far safer to concentrate on your own driving and let them find their own way past. You will be much more predictable and easier to pass if you are doing your own thing. Moreover, you will then be able to work out where you are losing time to the faster drivers and improve your own driving quicker.
- So remember these tips if you want to be Faster than you friends on the kart track…
- Keep your hands in one place and don’t let go of the wheel
- Brake hard, to the point where the tires are about to lock up, then smoothly release them
- Don’t turn in too early
- Use every Inch of the track
- Steer smooth
- Look Ahead
- Don’t worry about faster drivers coming up behind you – stick to your line, and try and see where and why they’re faster than you
In our opinion, karting is one of the best and most exciting things you can do, and that excitement and anticipation is what makes people come back for more. Just remember, being a quick driver comes from driving better, so try to contain your excitement when you get on the track and build your speed up gradually. Most of all, enjoy it.
Not everyone will be an F1 champion, so having fun is far more important than being the best.