Corners are the bane of every racer’s existence. When dealing with corners, often, many racers focus on maintaining leads than increasing the gap! But why exactly is that so?
The simple answer is improper go-kart cornering technique. Understanding the go-kart cornering technique is essential for every racer. Ample knowledge and experience cornering are often enough to win you the race!
Cornering is not an easy task at all. Many experienced racers get injured at the corners. A lot of them have done the corner many times. But it just proves that a proper go-kart cornering technique is needed.
There is more to it than only slowing down and driving according to the road. Fundamentals of the go-kart cornering technique are braking consistently and throttle awareness.
The Racing Line
A racing line is what a racer follows for the fastest route moving through the corner. Knowing how to utilize the racing line is crucial in the world of go-kart racing.
With knowledge on the proper go-kart cornering technique applied to the racing line, no doubt a winner.
The racing line is broken up into four separate points, which each play an essential role in cornering.
- The breaking point, it is the position you start to brake before a corner.
- The turn-in point is where you turn in the corner, reasonably straightforward. A missed turn in would cost you the race in some cases as your speed gets decreased.
- The apex, also known as the clipping point, and they are generally fixed with a curb. The curb indicates the apex and your time to use that throttle again.
- The exit point is the last point of the racing line. It indicates the outside of the curve. To get to the optimum point of exit, after the apex, you need to open your steering angle.
Check this video explaining the racing line below.
If you are hesitant about your skills at first, it is better safe than sorry. It’s best to estimate the braking point earlier, then let the brake off slowly at the turning point.
It ensures you make the turn and not spiral out of the track when attempting to turn.
Braking is one of the most important things to learn when practicing karting.
Once you get the hang of it, try decreasing the braking point and slam onto the brakes. It helps you learn to control the kart and reduce the speed lost.
When observing pro racers, it is no doubt that they have great control over the brakes. It allows them to brake and thus get out of the corner at a record time as well.
A good tip is to slam onto the brakes full force; go-karts work differently than regular cars.
You should hear a squeaking sound from the tires and then see the engine notes dropping. If not, it means to slam the brakes harder, as the pressure on the brake isn’t enough.
When you approach the turn, let go of the brakes slowly and smoothly as you turn. It is crucial since if you let go suddenly, the kart may spin violently, and you can’t regain control.
In case it happens, stay calm and try to gain control back by stepping on the brake slightly.
Click here to learn more about the go-kart braking technique, tips, and tricks.
Turning and Steering the Kart
When getting near the corner, do not start steering too early. In this case, being patient is critical.
Slowly increasing the turning rate and speed, making sure your movements are smooth despite feeling the pressure. Doing so will help you not spin out of the track and approach the apex in record time!
A massive error that rookies make is they panic and start pulling or pushing the wheel too much.
It will make the kart sway side to side and potentially topple over or spin out of control. Needless to say, it is extremely dangerous, and you should always make sure the wheel is released smoothly.
When you have turned the kart to a direction necessary to make the turn, hold the wheel! Hold it just as it is until you pass the curb or the apex point. It is because go-karts are like a spring; if you don’t hold on, it will lose its speed and brake pressure.
All right, by now, you have made it beyond the apex, time to smoothly straighten out the wheel. At this point, the kart’s grip increases; it’s a surefire sign to step on it and continue the race!
Different Apexes and Racing Strategies
Time for some more advanced go-kart cornering techniques. When racing, everyone can’t be at the same part of the apex at the same time. So, pro racers have come up with ways to utilize different parts of the apex.
The middle apex is ideal since it carries the highest speed into turns, but it’s not always available.
One of the go-kart cornering techniques is to use the early apex to out brake an opponent. It is used when you are relatively confident in winning the race to braking at the corner.
If you are at a fast corner, the late apex is useful. A tip for when using the late apex is that it helps you catch the turn just in time. It often produces a high exit speed because the front wheels are straightened faster and could win you the race.
Back to the middle apex, if you have a maximum speed, using it would be the best bet. Above all, it still results in the most grip and overall speed, it is the safest option.
Things to Avoid When Cornering
Now, we have all the theoretical stuff out of the way. It’s time for some tips on cornering. Having a proper go-kart cornering technique is no easy feat; you need proper posture and experience. Thus, cornering is one of the easiest places to crash, as the kart spins out of control easily.
Never Lean Forward!
When turning, don’t lean forwards towards the apex of the curve. It strains your inside wheels as it puts more weight on them. Instead, lean back on the back wheels to make the kart easier to straighten after the turn.
Don’t Get Overwhelmed!
If you don’t have much experience or are scared, try your best to stay calm. Focus on each pedal, so you do not panic and lose control of the kart.
Don’t Tunnel Vision
While racing, it is easy to tunnel vision, and suddenly everything seems to be happening so fast. Look ahead, it will seem to slow down, and you get to be prepared on what’s ahead.
Utilize Every Part of The Track
Try to spot any places that you can utilize to approach the turn wider. The ultimate goal is to reach the apex, which will help minimalize the time needed for the turn.
How to Improve Cornering Skills?
So, how do you improve at your pre-existing go-kart cornering technique? Here is the tough answer; practice is the only way to understand corners better.
Try and challenge yourself with the timing at the apexes and corners. The most crucial part of turns is braking and accelerating, changes to those will drastically change your time.
When approaching a corner, try visualizing different scenarios and experiment with different variants of apexes.
Another way is to try and shorten the braking point to the lowest amount of time possible. It is key to a turn with proper go-kart cornering technique while maintaining speed.
When shortening braking points, don’t forget to slam on the brakes when it comes, to avoid spinning out.
The key to improving your go-kart cornering technique is to think of the kart like a spring. The spring can be coiled tightly or unwound, and you will slowly understand the kart better and better.
Mastering the art of the proper go-kart cornering technique isn’t easy. But it plays a vital role in every single race, by reducing lap times. Whenever you get frustrated with cornering, remember that it’s not easy, and it needs constant practice.
Racing on the track gets the adrenaline pumping like no other, many people have devoted their lives to this passion. And with these tips, hopefully, you will find cornering easier and enjoy go-kart racing a bit more.