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Go Karting Tips and Techniques October 13, 2009

Posted by Abishek in Hobby.
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1 comment so far

Now that I have been go-karting for a while, I wanted to summarize some techniques I have learned to improve speed.
First, you should understand that a go-kart is different from other vehicles you might have driven.

Go-kart features

  • In a go-kart, you are just centimeters away from the track. Thus the Centre of Gravity is very low and adrenaline rush isĀ  high.
  • In a go-kart there is no differential, i.e. a kart has a solid rear axle. Hence both the rear wheels always spin at the same speed. When there is no differential the vehicle is prone to under-steer (kart doesn’t turn with the steering) or over-steer (almost spins). This is because both wheels spinning at the same speed favors the kart to go in a straight line.
Solid Rear axle with rear disc brake

Solid Rear axle with rear disc brake

  • The brakes are connected to the rear axle only.
  • The front wheels are smaller than the rear wheels.
  • Power is delivered via rear wheels only
  • When you turn a kart to the right, steering is designed in such a way that front right wheel lifts up from the track. Similarly for the left wheel when turning left.
  • Most karts ride on slick tyres in the dry, more rubber on track better traction. But on the wet, slicks are OMG!

Now you know the kart technically, based on this we have some techniques to go faster.

Simple techniques

  • The kart is faster when it goes straight, i.e. steering should be neutral.
  • Identify the racing line. The racing line is the fastest line on the track. This is not necessarily the shortest. For example you need to form wide arcs while negotiating corners.
Racing Line

Racing Line

  • Braking. Easiest technique is to brake before turning when the steering is neutral. Turn the kart, as you hit the apex of the corner throttle to pick-up speed. For corners which don’t have a next corner immediately, always follow ‘slow in – fast out’
  • Best way to overtake is to slipstream the opponent.
  • Do not drift the kart or wheel spin. Be as smooth as possible. Squealing tyres might look dramatic but are slow.

Advanced techniques

  • The racing line for hair pin bends is not the widest arc. You need to brake very late and form a smaller arc by turning sharply. You can also overtake this way.
  • Simpler way to brake is to brake when the steering is neutral. But experts do ‘trail braking’. Here you brake a little latter and then turn. Even after turning there will be some parts of track where you can brake safely without spinning, here apply a little brake so that you dont exceed the maximum speed the corner can take. This might look like drifting, but we are not loosing speed and at the same time braking later.
Trail Braking

Trail Braking

  • Since brakes are connected to rear wheel, sit upright when braking so that weight shifts to the rear wheel. Thus braking is more effective due to more traction in the rear.
  • When turning a kart, bias your body weight on the side opposite to turning. This will aid the kart to lift the front wheel on the turning side. When the kart is on three wheels, the lack of differential is less pronounced and you get a more neutral handling

Happy Karting!