When I first got into a kart, I had no idea how to drive it fast and no one to teach me. Fortunately I had three things which would stand me in good stead - I knew about racing lines, I wanted to be as quick as possible, and I didn't want to hurt myself!
So starting slowly, and not wanting to crash (at all), I found out for myself.
This is how I became a really quick competent driver, and I would say this to anyone:
- Develop an understanding of the racing line
- Start slowly and drive a little faster every lap
- Keep going until you hit the limit!
THE RACING LINE
To drive a kart fast you need to have a good line through the corners.
If you watch any motorsport you will see all drivers following a similar pattern:
OUTSIDE - INSIDE - OUTSIDE
On approach to the corner, you position your kart to the OUTSIDE of the corner, as close to the edge of the track as possible..
When it is time to turn in, do so smoothly and aim to move to the INSIDE of the corner.
The APEX is when you are closest to the inside of the corner.
You do this because you want to minimise the angle of the corner.
This pattern is fundamental to driving quickly.
START SLOW TO GET QUICK
I started my first lap in a kart very slowly, accelerating just a little bit on the straights, braking very gently and a long way before the corners, getting a feel for how the controls would respond to my inputs.
Now this is the important bit...
On every single lap after that first one I would accelerate a bit harder on the straight and brake both a little bit later and a little harder before the corners, every time gaining a better feel for how the kart would respond.
After getting some confidence I then discovered, on this particular track, that there were some corners that did not need braking at all and that I could accelerate out of the corners, once I passed the apex (see diagrams).
After several laps of incrementally pushing myself to accelerate harder and earlier out of the corners and braking later and harder before the corners on every lap I got a feeling for how the kart would react under braking, accelerating and turning and I got a feel for the track too.
I then started using markers on the side of the track for my braking points. I would for example, pick out a particular post or tyre on the side of the track as my braking point, and then on the next lap I would try and brake half a meter later. If that worked I would try and brake another half meter later and so on. If I needed to readjust my braking point I would. And so on...
That's basically it. You'll get quicker every lap and by accelerating a little earlier out of the corners and continue accelerating until you reach your braking point. Try and move your braking point to as late as possible so you spend the least amount of time on the brakes and as much time as possible on the accelerator. By doing so you’ll eventually get close to the limit which is the place you want to be!
In summary driving quickly is about trying to do all those things a bit better each lap and building up your confidence.
- Keep a good line at all times to minimise the cornering angle
- Brake in a straight line before turning in for the corner
- Try to accelerate out of the corners just past the apex
(sometimes you'll have compromise the exit of your corner if it leads straight into another corner).
- Be as smooth as possible
- Start slowly, get a feel for the kart
- Aim to get a little bit quicker every lap
Best of luck!
British Schools Karting Championship
British Universitites Karting Championship