It stands to reason that there are a wide range of skill levels across the karting spectrum. With these skill levels comes different ambitions, commitments of time, and of money, to your karting experience. One thing is pretty much universal, however. Everybody wants to be the fastest.
In the pursuit of first place, there are some rules in terms of speed and performance which apply whatever level you’re at.
Simply put: driving smoothly is the fastest way to drive. If you ever watch Formula 1, you’ll have heard Martin Brundle cooing over Jenson Button’s smooth driving style. Conversely, you’ll have heard Brundle complaining about drivers sawing at the steering wheel. So, it’s pretty widely understood that to drive faster is to drive smoother. The big question is, ‘How do we get smoother and faster?’ Let’s face it: anyone can claim to have mastered smooth driving if all they are doing is slowing down and steering carefully. The difficulty is in upping the speed and staying smooth.
More speed does not equal more effort. Yanking the wheel around with all your might won’t make you go faster. Here are the essential elements of smoother, faster driving which can take you from also-ran to champion.
1. Strength and fitness are key
You’re fighting against a number of laws of motion and gravity when pushing a kart to its limit. That takes controlled and repeated effort, lap after lap. To sustain maximum performance, you’ll need to be as strong and precise on Lap 20 as you were on the first lap. Work on your upper body and core strength through floor and weight repetitions.
2. Master accuracy on the throttle
A deft right foot is one of the biggest keys to accelerating to maximum effect out of corners. Learn to hit the throttle at the right time for the kart, rather than flooring it at will in the hope that you can retain control.
And the most technical element…
3. Load transfer
Put simply, without effective load transfer you can’t get around corners properly. It’s that simple. It is key to driving smoothly while minimising steering effort.
It is worth taking a few moments to explain the principles of load transfer. Under braking, the kart’s load transfers to the front, resulting in increased weight on the front wheels. When turning to the right, the kart’s load transfers to the outside, or the left wheels. Under acceleration, the kart’s load transfers to the rear wheels, resulting in an increase in load on the rear tyres. Understanding these three phases of load transfer will help you to better understand the requirements for faster driving.
Focus on and apply these three key elements and you are sure to see an improvement in performance. Before long you’ll be taking to the top step of the podium!