Sunday, March 20, 2005

How to Stop Getting Stuck Behind Slower Karters, and How to Overtake ANY Karting Driver You Want.

Karting can be a frustrating business sometimes

Are you finding that you don’t get the results that your lap times say you deserve?

Do you find you catch drivers easily and get stuck behind them way too long?

Would you like to blast past drivers first chance?

I get so many emails from drivers who find it hard to overtake and even more from parents who are going nuts watching their driver sit behind slower karts. And the problem is that everybody thinks that they should be more aggressive, more courageous, and if they can’t break through this overtaking problem then they may as well pack in karting.

Well I’m here to say this:-

1) For God’s sake don’t give up Karting, because you will always regret it
2) Learning to overtake in karting is a step-by-step process, you don’t need to be more aggressive or change your personality

You just need to know the secrets of overtaking and braking and to practice them. Then all you need is a nice new cabinet for all the trophies you’re going to win!

What is it that stops drivers overtaking?

Well it’s quite simple….fear. Fear of what will happen, will I collide? Will I spin? Will I go wide? etc. When you go to overtake another kart, there is extra pressure, you are on a part of the track which you wouldn’t normally be on so your visual perspective is different. So, your brain kicks in with basic survival reactions and goes into self-preservation mode. Perfectly normal and logical behaviour too!! So, you decide not to take the risk, since diving into the unknown simply isn’t worth the trouble, and you let yourself off and decide to try again later

Now, most people would assume that it’s a good idea to beat fear by force, for example force yourself or your driver to be brave…just close your eyes and do it etc. Well, all this achieves is to frighten the driver even more, to the point where they dread driving and will avoid getting close to other drivers, to avoid feeling scared in the first place. It also causes a lot of arguments and bad feeling, which turns karting from the most fun you can have, to quite a tedious activity

So, that’s enough of how not to do things, let’s get on to answer the problem

How to Fix a Karting Driver’s Overtaking and Braking Problems…Step-by-step

Ok, the most obvious overtaking move is to out-brake the opposition into a tight corner after a straight. So, step one of the overtaking master class is to become an expert on the brakes.

When you brake in a kart you have to hit the pedal hard and fast, not gently and gradually like in a car. You have to hit the pedal in a flash, so that the tyres almost lock up, and give you a sweet chirpy sound when they bite. Be ready for the kart to kick sideways, and release the pressure slightly to control the rear as you start to turn in. You will find yourself trail braking into the corner and believe me, the grin factor in mastering this is fantastic!

Now, doing this is difficult and you will need to lock your tyres to know how hard you can brake. So instead of scaring yourself, brake earlier than normal to get a feel for how hard you can brake. Then once you have mastered braking real hard brake from your old braking point, then brake even later once you are confident in your control. And do use a braking point, find marks on or beside the track, this is essential because you need to know exactly where it is safe for you to brake.

So now, you are braking as late as anyone can, and you are able to control the kart on its braking limit…you are a very skilled driver by now, and your confidence will be high.

Out-Braking Other Drivers- A Step into the Unknown


When you are on the inside of another driver ready to overtake, you might not be able to see your braking point….or you might think because you are on a tight line it’s too risky to brake so late. So what you need to do is practice using an overtaking line. Its simple- approach the corner as if you are overtaking and find new marks on the track as braking points. Do this over and over until you can slide the kart into the corner, all crossed up and in all sorts of trouble….slide wide, spin, hit the kerb or whatever.

Eventually you will learn where you can brake when on the inside line and be able to get round the corner. That way, you will know exactly what you are doing in the real situation. When you are on the inside of another kart you will know how late you can brake, how much grip there will be, and how wide your exit line will be. There will be nothing to be afraid of because you will have seen it all before.

Don’t Focus on the Other Kart….Focus on the Gap

This is the key to pulling off wild looking overtaking manoeuvres, which other drivers will marvel at, and it is relatively simple. When you are driving you will drive where you look. This can work to help you, or can really mess you up. Have you ever watched another kart spin and find yourself watching it until you almost hit it!

I have, and in fact I did hit it…a few times!- that is an example of me driving where I was looking. Now, to take advantage of this phenomenon, you have to look, yes physically look with your eyes to where you want the kart to go. So in an overtaking situation, you will notice that your brain will want you to look at the other kart- so you won’t hit it. This makes you jump into self-preservation mode and usually you will back off, or turn in way too early.

So next time you want to overtak another kart, look into the gap between the kerb and the driver you want to pass. Force yourself to stare into that gap, and if you are braking into a hairpin say, actually drive the kart into that gap, even let off the brake a little extra and keep looking into the gap. I promise you that you will get past the driver if you do this, maybe he will get back past on exit, but you can fine tune your line next time to stop that.

So, don’t forget….look into the gap, choose a point on the kerb to focus on and aim for it, look for it and leave the other karter to worry about avoiding you….because when you come steaming through you can bet he will be watching you, and loosing his concentration!

That’s it, overtaking feels very natural when you follow these steps and karting becomes even more exciting and fun. So give it a try and get hold of me if you have any karting questions. My contact details are at the end of this article

Terence Dove
EvenFlow Karting Coach

Get a free copy of "Astonishing Insider Secrets to Instantly Faster Lap Times and Absolute Kart Control" from the evenflow karting site