Do you want to improve your go kart driving?
Whether you are a relative beginner at go karting or a more experienced go-kart driver, this article has some helpful go-karting tips to improve your driving.
This low-riding vehicle is designed for speed and can be a bit intimidating if you’ve never driven one before, so let’s start with some go-karting tips for beginners.
Go Karting Tips for Beginners
Driving a go-kart is similar to, but not the same as, driving a car so some common newbie mistakes will hinder your go-kart speed and overall experience.
1. Hand Position
Go-karts have very sensitive steering and therefore, cannot be treated like a car with the traditional 10 and 2 position. Go-kart drivers should use a “quarter-to-three” position, this allows you to turn corners without moving your hands on the wheel – you want to have maximum control over your steering wheel at all times, it also aides precision handling.
2. Use One Pedal at a Time
To avoid losing control of your go-kart or spinning out, use only one pedal at a time when you are racing. Most newbies press both pedals at the same time which can throw you off-course. You should have both feet resting (not pressing) on their respective pedals at all times so you can react quickly when needing to use the accelerator or brake.
3. Don’t Turn Into Corners Too Early
Both novice and experienced drivers can still make the mistake of turning into the corners too early. To solve the problem of sliding wide on a corner exit, or when you’re losing speed on the corners, slow the go-kart down a bit before you turn, then aim for the apex of the corner.
4. Don’t Apply Soft Braking
Go-kart brakes are only on the back wheels, so applying them will not work the same as they do on a normal vehicle. The best way to apply brakes on a go-kart for maximum effectiveness is to hit them hard (so they almost lock) as you approach the apex of the corner, and then gradually release them.
5. Use the entire Track
The go-kart track is defined by white lines and curbs. To gain and maintain speed on the raceway, utilize as much of the track as you can. The wider you can make each turn (corner) by being on the circuit’s edge during entry and exit and by getting as close to the apex as you can, the straighter line you will have around the corner, which makes it easier to maintain speed. The shortest distance is not always the fastest way round a track.
6. Don’t Be Too Aggressive on the Steering
Smooth and gradual is the key to steering a go-kart. Many newbies make the mistake of using a sharp action when applying the steering wheel. This is a mistake that will result in front-end sliding (known as “understeer”).
7. Look Ahead At All Times
Because go-karts are very low to the ground, it may feel like a sensory overload when you experience it for the first time. The trick is to not focus on what is immediately in front of you, but rather what’s further ahead.
The rule-of-thumb for good karting techniques is to focus on one stage ahead of where you are. For example, when braking, look to the apex, at the apex look to the exit, at the exit, look for the next corner. Applying this technique tricks the brain into thinking everything is happening slower, giving you more time to process the information.
8. Don’t Try to Get Out of the Way
If you’re new to the go-karting circuit, don’t be intimidated by all those experienced drivers flying past you at top speeds. It is safer and more educational for your own karting experience to go at your own pace and to remember and apply what you have learned.
The more experienced karters will know how to pass you safely, but if you act in an unpredictable fashion, by trying to get out of the way, they may not be able to navigate around you as easily.
Advanced Karting Techniques
Once you experience go-karting you may not be able to get enough of the thrills and chills of being on the circuit. This is when you will want to know some of the “trade secrets” to advanced karting techniques.
1. Know the Track
Every go-kart track has its own unique pattern of turns, signage, and barriers – knowing these will help improve your time – memorizing them will enable you to create a strategy. There may be more than one way to navigate a circuit, finding the best course around a track can shave off precious seconds or even minutes of your overall performance.
2. Navigate the Turns like a Pro
Another advanced karting technique is the ability to navigate the turns. In racing cars, this requires supreme focus and precision, go-karting is much the same.
Once you have the track memorized, it’s time to make the most of it by establishing a “racing line” – a racing line is the fastest path around a track, focusing particularly on the entrance and exit out of corners. According to go-kart racers, successful cornering can be broken down into three areas;
- The outside of the approaching turn
- The apex (innermost part of the track)
- The outside of the track at the end of a turn
Approaching the Turn when go karting
When you are approaching a turn, the best practice is to do so from the outside edge of the track (get as close to the edge as you approach the corner as you can). Accelerate as much as you can before you reach the corner.
The Apex Approach Technique
Approach the corner (apex) in as straight a line as able. Ease off the accelerator and apply the brakes. As you approach the apex start turning, then as you pass the apex release the brakes and accelerate. Also, be aware of your body position. Do not lean towards the apex as this puts more weight over the inside wheels, which makes it more difficult to straighten after the turn.
Coming Out of the Turn Technique
When you are coming out of a turn, be sure to continue accelerating while moving in as straight a line as possible – this will help you maintain traction on the track and prevent your back wheels from sliding out. Now aim for the outside edge of the track while accelerating. This advanced go-kart technique enables you to corner with as little speed loss as possible.
Timing is Key when Go Karting
One of the most important go karting tips we can give you is, practice your steering, braking and accelerating skills when cornering go karts. Everyone can drive fast on a straight, but to really improve your times around the track, you need to learn how to coordinate your steering with braking and accelerating to find the optimal combination that will achieve the fastest times.
Each time you approach a corner, practice the timing of your braking and acceleration, find the perfect position to initiate the turn by looking for specific markers (or objects) on the circuit, you will then find that “sweet spot” for applying the brakes and accelerator.
Use the go kart track timer to test which line around the track achieves the fastest track time.
If you put these go karting tips into practice, you are sure to improve your go karting technique and speed around the track.