1 – HOW TO GET UP TO SPEED
When first driving a high-performance kart, it can be quite daunting. How do you drive quickly? And without spinning off? The key is to do the following:
- Develop an understanding of the racing line
- Start slowly and drive a little faster every lap
- Keep going until you hit the limit!
THE RACING LINE
To drive a kart fast you need to have a good line through the corners.
If you watch any motorsport you will see all drivers following a similar pattern:
OUTSIDE – INSIDE – OUTSIDE
On approach to the corner, you position your kart to the OUTSIDE of the corner, as close to the edge of the track as possible..
When it is time to turn in, do so smoothly and aim to move to the INSIDE of the corner.
The APEX is when you are closest to the inside of the corner.
You do this because you want to maximise the radius of the corner.
This pattern is fundamental to driving quickly. Here are some examples:
START SLOW TO GET QUICK
Start your first lap in a kart slowly, accelerating just a little bit on the straights, braking very gently and a long way before the corners, getting a feel for how the kart responds to your inputs.
Now this is the important bit…
On every single lap after that first one, accelerate a bit harder on the straight and brake both a little bit later and a little harder before the corners. Every time you should get a better feel for how the kart responds.
You’ll eventually find that there are some corners you do not need to brake for, and that you can accelerate out of the corners once passed the apex (see diagrams).
Keep pushing yourself to accelerate harder and earlier out of the corners and braking later and harder before the corners on every lap.
At some corners you’ll find it useful to use a “marker” on the side of the track for your “braking point“. For example, you might start using a particular post or tyre on the side of the track as your initial braking point. You might find yourself braking several meters before the marker, at the marker, or after it (note, it’s important not to look directly at the braking points, just use your peripheral vision).
Using the marker as your braking point, on the next lap try to brake half a meter later. If that works try and brake another half meter later and so on. The key is brake as late as you can without losing control and without compromising your exit speed on the corner so readjust your braking point on every corner until you get the feel.
That’s basically it. You’ll get quicker every lap by accelerating a little earlier out of the corners and continue accelerating until you reach your braking point. Try and move your braking point to as late as possible so you spend the least amount of time on the brakes and as much time as possible on the accelerator. By doing so you’ll eventually get close to the limit which is the place you want to be!
In summary driving quickly is about trying to do all those things a bit better each lap and building up your confidence.
- Keep a good line at all times to maximise the radius of the corner
- Brake in a straight line before turning in for the corner
- Try to accelerate out of the corners just past the apex
(sometimes you’ll have compromise the exit of your corner if it leads straight into another corner).
- Be as smooth as possible
- Start slowly, get a feel for the kart
- Aim to get a little bit quicker every lap
Having said all of the above, we do see several patterns of mistakes made by new drivers.
1) Pressing the brakes when turning
As mentioned above, you only have a certain amount of grip available on your rear tyres which are the ones which do the braking. Lets call this maximum amount of grip 100 units. When you’re turning, you will be using pretty much most of the grip to turn the kart through the corner (e.g. 95 units of grip if not not more). If you then hit the brakes when turning, you’ll suddenly be asking for a whole lot more than 100 units of grip (95 ish for turning, then maybe another 90 to 100 for braking). Simply put you’ll be asking too much of the rear tyres, they will slide quickly and before you know it you’ll be spinning off.
The answer is brake in a straight line every time. Never turn and brake at the same time.
2) Panicking mid-corner and spinning-off
This is hugely related to the number 1 mistake above. What is happening here is that you are almost certainly taking too much speed into the corner, then when you get to the corner, and you’re trying to turn, you panic because you feel you’re going to quick, and slam the brake on. As mentioned above, if you do brake and turn at the same time you will spin.
The answer is to take less speed into the corner. Next time you come to that corner, either brake earlier or brake harder or both. In any case, you need to reduce your speed more before you turn into the corner. That way you won’t panic mid corner, and therefore won’t need to slam the brake on.
This is a very common mistake to make by new drivers at the test days.
3) Crashing into stationary karts
This should be completely avoidable but netherless it does happen. Unfortunately it’s quite a dangerous thing to do for obvious reasons.
Sometimes this happens because the driver in front of you spun off and instead of braking in a controlled manner, you panic and slam the brakes on. As mentioned above you’ll probably go into a spin because you’re asking the rear tyres to slow you down too quickly more than the grip they can provide. The answer is of course, not to panic, brake as hard as you can without braking so hard that you lose grip at the rear and spin.
Often however, many of these types of accidents can be avoided if you always pay attention to whats up ahead on the track. Every time you come out of a corner, you should be looking up towards the next corner, that way you’ll be preparing your mind for the next corner and also you’ll be able to see far ahead if anyone spins off and you can take the appropriate action in good time.
WET WEATHER DRIVING
When a track is wet, it either scares you or excites you. As a beginner it can seem very daunting. It is definitely a lot harder to drive in the wet.
If it’s your first time in the wet, you’ll notice that we don’t have wet tyres and there is a very good reason for this. Simply put they are expensive and don’t last long at all when the weather changes from wet to dry. Club100 wouldn’t be able to run if every time it rained the whole fleet had to change over to wet tyres, and back again to slicks whenever it dried out. It’s just not logisticall or economically possible.
In any case, driving in the wet on slick tyres can be exhilarating and many Club100 drivers who go on to do other forms of motorsport often massively outshine their competitors in wet conditions. However if it’s your first time in the wet, do read on.
Wet weather driving is all about being ultra smooth and gentle on the brakes and the throttle. The number one thing to bear in mind is that braking distances are a lot longer so you must brake much earlier and be much more gentle on the brakes too.
The second thing to bear in mind, is that you have to be very smooth on the throttle. Again this is all to do with the very low amount of grip available to the rear tyres (because it’s wet). You’ll have to get a feel as to how much throttle you can apply on the exit of the corners; if it’s too much the rear tyres will slide and you may spin.
The last thing to bear in mind in wet weather, is that the front tyres will hardly have much grip either. You’ll therefore find yourself going into corners and the kart will feel like it wants to go straight on and not turn at all. This is all normal. Actually, once upon a time, we had a driver come into the pitlane, just after it started raining, saying that his steering column was broken because the kart wouldn’t turn. That’s how little grip if it can feel like when in the wet.
When you have understeer like this, you just need to slow down, then eventually you’ll have enough grip to turn through the corner much more slowly than you’re used to in the wet.
2 – WHAT TO DO IF YOU SPIN
A kart has four tyres (duh) and each tyre can only handle a certain amount of grip. If you ask above and beyond that maximum amount of grip, by either braking too hard or turning too quickly, you’ll find that the tyres will slide.
When the tyres slide at the front of the kart, you’ll feel that the kart doesn’t want to turn. We call this understeer.
When the tyres slide at the back of the kart, you’ll feel the kart going “loose” or skittish at the back, the steering will go light and you’ll probably feel the kart going sideways. This is called oversteer. If you have too much oversteer, you probably won’t be able to “catch” it in which case your kart will go into a spin.
If you spin, it’s incredibly important to slam your foot on the brake. This may sound odd, but once you are in a spin, you are a danger to those karts passing you. If you turn the steering wheel when rolling backwards after a spin you may inadvertently roll into the path of an oncoming kart which can cause serious accidents.
By slamming your foot on the brake, this will cause the rear tyres to lock up and slide a bit before coming to a quick halt. This will prevent the kart from turning unpredictably. So remember, slam your foot on the brake once you’re sliding and you can’t catch it.
Finally, on your first few laps, you’ll find that your tyres will be cold. When they are cold they won’t have much grip at all and you will be sliding all over the place. As you go round the track a few laps they will warm up and you’ll feel grip coming to you (unless it’s wet).
3 – HOW TO APPROACH YELLOW FLAGS
The rules about yellow flags are the most important rules in the BUKC. If you are coming from a Motorsport UK background please pay special attention. The yellow flag rules in the BUKC are completely different!
1) When you see a yellow flag, put your hand up in the air if you are comfortable and feel it is safe to do so. If you’re barely in control then keep your hand on the wheel!
2) LOOK AHEAD. If you see a yellow flag, do not panic and hammer the brakes. What you should do is back off a bit and look ahead to see the obstruction – if you cannot see the obstruction then slow down some more until you know 100% that you can avoid whatever incident there may be around the corner.
3) DO NOT slow down so much that you are an obstacle to those behind you. You just need to slow down enough so that you know 100% that you will avoid whatever obstacle might lurk around the corner.
4) DO NOT OVERTAKE. If you do overtake, by mistake, let the person back through. Also, make it obvious to the outside world that you’re letting them back through. That way you ought not to be black flagged.
5) Do not overtake anyone with his or her hand in the air. This is a special rule for the BUKC. Hands in the air are treated like yellow flags so don’t overtake anyone with a hand in the air or you will get black flagged (Motorsport UK drivers take note).
4 – HOW TO OBTAIN YOUR BUKC RACE LICENCE
What we are looking for are drivers who are within roughly 110%* of the fastest times of the fastest drivers, as well as those who obey the yellow flags, do not crash into other drivers and do not spin often. Simply put, we will award a BUKC Race Licence to those who we think are safe enough to race in the BUKC.
With regards to laptimes, as an example, lets say that the fastest time posted on a day was a 45.0 seconds. We would expect then that the cut-off time to apply for awarding a BUKC Race Licence would be 49.5 seconds. Of course, we also look into other aspects as mentioned above so it’s not a hard rule. We judge each case on its own merit.
Only around 50% of drivers will obtain their BUKC Licence on their first attempt so don’t be disheartened if you aren’t awarded one at your first test day. If you don’t achieve it on your first attempt, ask your captain to book you into another test day. We also have the “Rookie Series” for individual drivers wishing to take part in race events on the BUKC race days but haven’t yet got a BUKC Race licence.
* 110% is a rough guide; on the day we may adjust this value depending on conditions.