…The go kart lane that is. Driving go karts is nothing like driving a road car – for many people, it’s as close to open-racing as they’re ever going to get. Whilst you might not be Lewis Hamilton of the karting world, it is fairly easy to drive a go kart fast – but in order to do so, there’s a few things you should know.
First of all, your final position in a race will be determined by the strength of your car + your skill. You can have all of the skill in the world but a rubbish kart, and you’ll finish low on the grid – read about Lewis Hamilton’s latest F1 season. When you have a kart with fresh tyres and a sweet engine, it can make a world of difference.
Once you have gotten yourself into a great kart, here’s what you should do:
For your kart to be as flexible as possible in the twisties, you need to relax – this means not sitting bolt upright and holding on for dear life. You should relax your elbows, your feet, and let your body do the talking – it will adapt to each bend and corner automatically.
2. Don’t Lean Forward
To be as fast as possible in the corners, you’re going to want to have a near 50/50 weight distribution – this cannot be achieved if you lean forward. The engine on a go kart is located toward the middle-rear and you sit toward the middle-front. Therefore, just relax and sink into your seat.
3. Don’t Lean in the Corners
If you’ve got spectators watching you, leaning in the corners can be a great way to show off and display your unparalleled driving technique. But, it’s counter-productive. Here’s why – go karts have a solid rear axle and a karts steering is set up so that the one front wheel lifts under hard cornering and the other wheel can dig into the tarmac. This is designed to be like a slip-differential: power is transferred to the wheel with the most grip. By leaning, you run the risk of stopping this from happening.
4. Always Aim to Perfect your Exit
Novice go kart racers often make the mistake of trying to perfect their entry into a corner, when in fact they should be concentrating on perfecting their exit. Why? Because an entry is going to determine your speed during your exit. Racing drivers think ahead by at least 3 – 4 corners. Also, your perfect apex-smashing isn’t going to apply in the real-world when you’ve got lots of other karts up your rear pushing you and edging you to make a mistake. Aim to carry as much speed out of a corner as possible.
5. Be Smooth
The key to good go kart racing is being smooth, both in your handling of the car and your entry and exit lines – Jenson Button is widely regarded as the F1 best driver in the world for smoothness. You should aim to carry as much speed as possible and work with your machine – trying to chuck it or drive others off-track is counter-productive.
Be one with the machine and the machine will be one with you.