KART Racing Tips & Tricks
General Driving Tips:
- Make sure you’re sitting correctly. It sounds minor, but your posture can actually make a big difference in how the kart handles and accelerates. Sit comfortably with your back up against the seat, and resist the urge to lean forward as you race. If you lean forward, then you move the centre of gravity forward which can change how the kart handles and slow you down.
- Grip a symmetric grip on the wheel. Whether you’re at 10 and 2 or another combination, just make sure your hands are mirrored and symmetrical so you have a sturdy grip, which gives you more control when you turn and maneuver. With a lazy grip, you’ll end up wasting time and inertia correcting your path.
- Don’t lose momentum. Look ahead of the track to anticipate the moves you’ll be making next. That way, you avoid unnecessary braking and slow-downs, and will keep your speeds and momentum high.
- Stay straight for as long as you can. The longer you move forward without altering your path, the more likely you’ll be to reach top speeds. Turning and/or swerving around other racers will reduce your speed.
- Keep the ride as smooth as possible. Braking, swerving, jerky steering, altering acceleration, sliding the kart out of bends under full throttle.—these cause you to lose momentum and will impact your finish time.
- Avoid braking while turning. Your tires could lose traction, causing you to spin out more easily. Braking is smoothest when you’re going straight.
- Don’t apply the brake and accelerator simultaneously. Doing so will cause the engine to stop.
- Follow the leaders. If you start to trail during the race, follow the path of the faster drivers who are most likely avoiding the slower drivers. Work your way up (still keeping a safe distance), and, at your first opportunity, zip past them!
- Plan ahead. Look at the track ahead, not just at the kart in front of you. Think about where you need to be when you enter a corner and how fast you need to be going. When passing, look at the traffic and spacing ahead, beside, and behind you, so you don’t get boxed in, rammed, or run off the track.
- Lighter Weight if Faster. With a complete kart weighing anything between 75 and 125 kgs, the driver’s weight is the single largest component. It goes without saying that an 80kg driver has a better power to weight ratio than a 110kg driver. The difference is reduced if you are racing in a more powerful kart, like the 22bhp Vodafone Dmax fleet – but it still makes a huge difference on a dry track. In wet conditions, the difference is reduced but not completely negated.
- Better equipment is better. If you can afford the best chassis, engines, tyres, mechanics etc., then you will be equipped to go quicker than more cost-conscious drivers. Obviously if you have all the gear but no skill at driving, you won’t win races – but if you combine the best kit with driving skills, you will improve your chances of winning.
- Practice. Whenever you can practice your driving. Practice on paved, dirt, indoor, and outdoor tracks. Get a feel for how different types of tracks affect your handling. Any time you get a new kart or modify and old kart, get a feel for how it accelerates, breaks, and handles. Practice accelerating from a dead stop, acceleration while moving, breaking, cornering, passing, oversteer correction, understeer correction. Practice may not make you perfect, but it will make you better.
- Maintenance. Remember clean, oiled, and well maintained parts always work better.
- Bumping. Don’t be a jerk. This is racing, NOT demolition derby or bumper cars. If you ram someone and cause them to lose control, people can get injured. If your OK with deliberately injuring others to win a race, you should NOT be racing.
- Losing. Don’t be a jerk. Everyone loses at some point. Don’t immediately accuse everyone of cheating, unless you have solid proof. Accidents happen, Don’t immediately accuse people of intentionally bumping you, unless you have solid proof or it keeps happening. Instead of getting angry and blaming others, learn from your mistakes. Study, Practice, and become better.
Throttle & Break
Remember, if your tires are slipping or losing grip, you will accelerate slower. You need to find the point just before your tires start losing grip for maximum acceleration. Also remember the type of tires, the type of track, whether you are going straight or cornering, and whether the track is wet or dry will affect how fast you can accelerate.
- Kart Throttle
When you press on the throttle pedal (on the right), power is transmitted directly to the rear wheels. Rear tires also provide you with grip, so watch how much power you use – too much gas whilst cornering, and you’ll lose grip and therefore speed.
- Throttle Control
Kart throttles are very simple – the more you press, the more power you get. So you’ll need to use the power carefully and smoothly – get a nice clean drive out of the bend to spend maximum time driving forwards, minimum time going sideways. If you start to slide, release the power to let the rear wheels regain some grip.
- Kart Brakes
When you push on the brake pedal (on the left), the kart brakes engage on the rear axle. Only the rear wheels will break, so – like the throttle – you’ll need to be careful with the brakes. Push them too hard, and the rear tires will lock up and the back of the kart will slide out.
- Brake Control
Contrary to popular opinion, brakes help you go quicker! Your aim is to slow the kart down to a speed that the kart can corner without losing grip – in the shortest possible time. This means ‘squeezing’ on the brakes enough to slow the kart quickly, but not so hard that the back steps out. Kart’s don’t have handbrakes, either…so when you’re at a standstill, keep yourself stationary by keeping the brakes on.
- In a single bend, the speed you enter the corner will usually dictate the speed you exit. Go in too fast and you come out too slow. Go in too slow and you still come out too slow. Sort your entry speed before committing to the corner and you have the best chance of exiting quickly and enjoying that speed along the next straight.
- Remember, how tight the turn is, the type of tires, the type of track, and whether the track is wet or dry will affect how fast you can take a corner without losing momentum or control.
- When approaching a corner, generally speaking you need to keep wide. This is to make the corner entry smooth and reduce the angle you need to turn.
- In a straight line, before turning in, lift off the power completely.
- Once the power is off, start to squeeze on the brakes to reduce your speed.
- Lift off the brakes, and turn in. The tighter the corner, the more you need to turn
- Aim towards the apex – the centre-point of the turn on the inside – you want to be as close as you can to this point in the middle of the turn.
- As you pass the apex, start to straighten the wheel. Generally, you should start to aim towards the outside of the circuit again to let the kart run wide.
- Start to feed the throttle back in as you straighten the wheel. As you get more advanced, you can ‘get your foot down’ earlier and earlier in the corner. Remember – your kart will go quickest in a straight line, not whilst turning, so you want to get that kart pointing smoothly out of the bend to maximise speed.
- As you reach the outside of the track again, you can increase the power to full and get the steering straight.
- If you are approaching a series of complex bends that flow together, you need to plan ahead. work backwards from the final exit. Where the exit of one bend becomes the entry to the next, it is critical that you leave the first bend in exactly the right place (and at the right speed) to enter the next one correctly to optimise the final exit speed.
Cornering on a Wet Track
- a kart finds it very difficult to corner in the wet. Especially on slick tires. Instead of lifting the inside back wheel, you will actually slide both back wheels around the corner.
- Brake in a straight line on the approach to the corner, use the steering wheel to put on plenty of lock – and don’t panic when the kart just keeps going straight on.
- As you enter the corner, gently ease the accelerator down and the rear wheels will start to lose adhesion and will allow the under-steering front wheels to turn the kart.
- Too heavy on the accelerator and you spin. Too light and you don’t make it around the bend. Be ready to adjust your throttle as required mid-bend.
Things to Remember
This is when the rear of the kart loses grip resulting in the back ‘stepping out’. This can happen if you accelerate or brake too hard, or turn the wheel too sharply. To correct the oversteer, gently lift off the pedals and steer into the slide.
This is when the front of the kart loses grip resulting in the kart failing to steer or ‘pushing on’ into the corners. This is usually caused by a sharp steering action making the front loose traction.
Every corner is different, so you will need to adapt your racing line to different corners and especially to different sequences of corners – sometimes you will need to compromise lines into the first bend in a sequence to get the best drive out of the last one.
- Key Corners
Always identify the key corners – these will be the ones that lead onto a fast, ‘flat out’ part of the track. Get these wrong, and the lost momentum is multiplied down the next straight. Get ‘em right, and you’ll be blasting past your opponents.
Remember, the type of track (paved, dirt, indoor, outdoor), and whether the track is wet or dry will affect your handling, acceleration, and braking.
Overtaking / Passing
The easiest place to pass is on the inside, before your opponent turns into the next bend. Set the kart up to give yourself the best chance of passing cleanly – you may have to move off your normal racing line. Chose the right corner. Everybody takes corners differently, watch the driver in front, and work out where you could be quick enough to pass.
Momentum is key. You’ve got to build up the momentum needed to get past someone on track, this means distancing yourself slightly from the drivers in front to allow space to build that up.
Anticipate others. Half the game is anticipating and exploiting other people’s mistakes. Be ready for them and you can make up some easy places.
If you see the karts ahead battling for position, be prepared for any eventuality. You may need to bide your time and wait for a good chance to pass. Turning a two kart race into a three kart race may end up with you all going slower!
This is racing, NOT demolition derby or bumper cars. Rubbing is NOT racing, karting is non-contact, so when starting a race, make sure you watch the space around you. Don’t throw away your chances of winning by trying to bully your way to the front in the first corner. Remember, you can’t win if you crash or you are disqualified.
Be aware that a kart behind you, may be overtaking. Always be sure to give a quick glance to check it is safe before turning into a sharp corner. Don’t rush! You’ll run the risk of throwing away the race in the first few minutes. Plan your moves carefully for each corner.
- Commit Correctly
Don’t get too close. You run the risk of bumping them into a corner, and your kart will slow itself down. Look ahead, not at the bumper in front. If you are fixated on it, chances are you’ll hit it. Commit in the right places. When overtaking into a corner, make sure you get past them before they turn. This means a little commitment is needed to get past safely.