If you want to get ahead in a go karting race, it’s important to know how to get past your competition. Overtaking is one of the most important skills you can learn on the track – get it right and you’ll leave your fellow racers in the dust. Get it wrong, and you could end up coming unstuck.
There are many techniques to good overtaking, but the most crucial element to master is confidence. Getting past another vehicle often means temporarily breaking out of your racing line and taking a risk that might limit your visibility or maneuverability until you’re in a position to course correct. Taking all of that in while also keeping your eyes on upcoming turns and corners is a lot to concentrate on at once, and there’s no fail-safe method. The ability to keep a cool head under pressure will usually come with experience, so don’t be discouraged if your early overtaking efforts don’t go to plan.
One piece of advice you’ll often hear from seasoned drivers is to focus on the space, not the other driver. Most racers instinctively look to the other car during an overtake maneuver to see how their rival will respond. This can knock your confidence, or make you take your eyes off the road at a crucial moment. Instead, try to keep your attention on the gap as you pass, and on any upcoming corners once you’re clear. Even if your overtake is successful, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the moment and wind up losing your hard-earned momentum by making a rookie error.
Braking technique is another hugely important factor in good overtaking. Out-braking an opposing vehicle can force them into a corner, creating an opportunity to pull ahead and gain some much needed distance. If you’re used to driving a standard road vehicle, rally braking can feel a little counterintuitive, as you need to be much harder and faster to get results. Once again, practice makes perfect.
Your awareness of the track can also make or break your attempts to overtake at a crucial moment; not only in terms of knowing where sharp corners are coming up, but also in terms of calculating the best possible braking point. Look for any handy marks or signs along the track that you can use to get the timing of your brake nailed down.
Most overtakes may happen on corners, but there’s plenty you can be doing along a straight, too. One good technique is to follow closely behind your opponent to save energy and reduce drag, helping you to pick up speed. As you approach your braking zone, try to brake later than your target, and quickly get into a position to block them while you recover your exit speed.
Finally, always be sure to keep the bigger picture in mind. While you’re focusing on getting past one vehicle, are there any others coming up in front or behind that could cause a problem? Don’t get so caught up in the moment that you forget the basic rules of karting safety and fair play. A bold overtake can be one of the most thrilling experiences in any race, but remember to have fun and respect your fellow drivers – even when you’re cutting them up with impunity.