Writing an in-depth guide about how to successfully drive a go kart would be a little silly – we’d have to write guides for all of the different go karts you could find yourself competing in. Just like a Ferrari is different to a Ford Fiesta, each kart has its own unique character.
However, just because all karts are different, does not mean that there are no basic tips you should utilise the next time you’re karting. If you want to emerge as the triumphant winner in your next karting competition, make sure that you:
1. Pick the Kart with the Newest Tyres
Newer tyres mean better grip – go karts almost always run on slicks or semi-slicks, depending on whether they’re for indoor or outdoor use. Go kart tyres, just like a road car tyres, are most effective when new because the level of wear is even – this means that you’ll be balanced around corners, have lots of turn in grip, and your kart will be less inclined to lean under hard braking.
If you can’t pick the kart with the newest tyres, simply check out available karts for wear, to make sure they look even.
2. Try to Pick the Fastest Kart
It goes without saying that the fastest kart usually wins the race – look at the Red Bull that Sebastian Vettel’s been racing in. Prior to your race, you should attempt to establish which karts have a knack for winning races or at least finishing in the top 3. Despite what your go kart event manager says, different karts have different speeds – even if they are effectively the same make and model.
A good rule of thumb is to try and pick a kart with minimal bumps and scrapes on – this implies that the kart leads races, as opposed to lagging behind and fighting furiously for 4th or 5th.
3. Keep Two Hands on the Steering Wheel
The very first things racing drivers learn is to keep two hands on the steering wheel at all times – no matter what speed they are travelling at. Why? Because steering wheels are designed for two-handed input, and even though power steering systems make steering nice and light, you will not be fully in control of your go kart if you don’t have a good grip.
When you’re turning into a corner, steer with your arms, not your wrists. Your torso will be in a fixed position but your arms will be flexible.
4. Always go for the Apex
To win races, you’re going to need to hit the apex a lot of times – even if you’re 2nd or 3rd and battling to overtake, you must go for the quickest line. This means exiting corners nice and wide and entering new ones nice and tight. Even if there’s somebody holding you up, go for the apex beside them. You should be trying to get into a position where your exit speed is higher than your competitors so that you can cut in on the next corner.