Category Archives: Starting Karting Tips

Karting tips for beginners. Learn about braking, driving in the wet, throttle control and lines. We’ll help you lap faster!

Karting Rain Master – 10 tips to become a wet-weather specialist

Ginetta Super One MSA Series
Here in the UK, wet conditions are part and parcel of karting. Not many people relish the rain, but wet conditions favour drivers who are smooth, relaxed and precise. Here are 10 tips to help you get the best from poor conditions.

1. Throttle Control
If a driver tries to accelerate too hard to quickly the rear wheels will simply spin, rather than drive the kart off the corner. It is important for a driver to learn to gently apply throttle progressively, this will allow the kart to pick up speed more gradually and lead to a faster get away from each corner. For drivers who really struggle a higher sized sprocket can help reduce the rate of acceleration to the wheels, thus requiring less throttle sensitivity.

2. Braking and turning off line
The normal racing line will become incredibly slippery when it is wet. If a driver tries to do anything on this line it generally results in the driver missing the corner as they can’t slow down or turn in. It is important to position the kart off line to slow down and turn in, this often means going deeper into the corner and then driving out tighter than the usual line.

3. Braking technique
When slowing the kart down off line, it is important to hit the brakes hard enough slow the kart down as late as possible. If the brakes are hit too hard the rear axle will lock up, this does very little to slow the kart down and often ends in a spin. In addition to applying the brakes the driver can gently flick the steering as the braking period begins, the rear will slide and the higher skilled driver will be able to maintain the slide, aiding the slowing of the kart.

4. Raise the centre of gravity
In order to aid the weight transfer and to maximise the amount of force that can be extracted from the outside tyres to get around each corner, the centre of gravity can be raised. This can be done in a number of ways including raising the ballast on the kart if there is any, placing it as high up the seat/kart as possible, the driver can also be raised by either moving the seat up or buying a product such as the Tillet Rainmeister, which acts like a booster seat.

5. Using body weight to aid cornering
Similar to the raising of the centre of gravity to increase the loading to the outside tyres, the driver can use their bodyweight also. They can do this by leaning towards the outside tyres when cornering, for example leaning right in a left corner. While this works better with taller drivers, it will aid every size of driver to a certain degree.

6. Using the kerbs
Kerbs can be used to either aid the loading of the outside tyres by lifting the insides, or by acting like a track in which the wheels can be hooked into and then followed. Watching the faster drivers in similar classes will often help decide which kerbs to use in the wet, it is then important to understand whether they need to be attacked hard in order to lift the inside tyres, or approached more gently to produce the hooking motion. If the driver uses them wrong they can be left on the normal racing line, with very little grip and no help from the kerbs at all.

7. Suitable kart wear
In order to aid tip number 7 it is fundamental that the driver is wearing the correct kit to stay dry. As covered previously in the Karting Magazine’s list of essentials, race wear items such as waterproof boots, gloves and wetsuit should all be purchased in order to optimise the chances of staying dry. The driver should also pack an extra pair of clothes (especially socks!) to change into if they do get wet.

8. Keeping warm
While this may seem like common sense, it is one of the biggest challenges of racing in the rain. If a driver gets wet their focus will stray from hitting apexes and braking points, to “when can I get back in the car with the heating on?” In between each session a conscious effort should be made to dry off/warm up, the use of heaters either in a vehicle or in an awning are strongly advisable.

9. Stopping the visor steaming up
Just like a car windscreen when it is raining, a visor will often steam up during a race. This ultimately restricts what the driver can do as they cannot see where they are going, this hinders performance and can be quite dangerous in extreme cases. There are a number of products in the market which can stop this, but if a driver is caught out at the track without them simple solutions can be used, such as; washing up liquid or cheaper still – saliva, probably best to use the driver’s.

10. Drying everything off after racing
While the kart and the equipment cannot always be dried off between each session, it is important to get everything out as soon as possible after a race weekend, washing it down and applying lubricants where necessary to maintain everything in good working order. The driver’s equipment especially should be dried as soon as possible to avoid damage or mould growing, causing them to smell foul.

A Beginner’s Diary: Part 4 – Into the Fray

Leaving the pits for my first race heat seemed a pretty comfortable experience. After the practice of the previous day, there was a familiar routine to getting the kart round on cold tyres while keeping up the pace with the drivers ahead. The “Esses” at Forest Edge in Hampshire were no longer the obstacles of dread. So as the karts in front weaved left-right to get heat into the tyres, I followed the herd on this Sunday morning. This weekend I came armed with 8 fewer kilos at the scales after a crash diet, so could enjoy the luxury of adding weight to the kart to get to 177kg, as well as a better fitting suit.

1

One thing I hadn’t tried before was the rolling start and it was uppermost in my mind through the decent into the “Wingers Dip” and the long rise through the back of the circuit. To get things moving, half the track was cut off for the rolling start which meant short-circuiting the Bus Stop chicane along this back straight. As the pack turned right, I caught sight of the lights over the start-finish line and realised that now it was racing — For Real ™. Except that it wasn’t as the pack wasn’t properly formed up so another lap we did. Good news for me as it always takes three laps to get any decent heat into my tyres.

 

So back through the Esses, Wingers and Up Hill the karts flowed once again. As we reached the chicane, the pack was properly assembled and after the turn right, this time it was going to happen. A second later, 125cc engines roared like the Charge of the Light Brigade. My 28-odd horses were in full flight past the start-finish line, but quite a distance back from the kart ahead. I didn’t care too much as crashing at Haynes Loop was something to be avoided like the plague. Starting at the back was probably a good idea as the pack soon peeled off into the distance.

 

The first few laps were conservative even by my standards, but I stayed on track and passed a couple of drivers who’d ended up in the dirt. By lap three I was in full flight, caning chicanes with wild abandon and hammering through Haynes with all the grip my CRG machine could muster. This was awesome fun. It wasn’t long before the inevitable blue flag was waved in front to signal the fastest karts were behind me and needed to pass. I moved offline to allow them to keep their fast lines and race pace. Then — as if from nowhere — the chequered flag appeared – just as I was getting going.

 

As we peeled off the track I was relieved I had finished in one piece. Soon I was back at the Wright Technology Centre, where my Race Engineer, David, assessed the performance. “A bad start …” he rightly concluded. Rather than keep close to the back end of the machine in front, I was so far back Cornwall was in sight. I knew to be really competitive you needed to literally push the kart in front over the start but I’ll try that when I get more experienced. Analysis of my lap times on the Mychron 4 revealed consistent 47s laps which was brilliant for me. On the weekend session beforehand 49s felt to be on the ragged edge so “seat time” was really paying dividends. David’s father, Colin, asked how the kart felt and to me it was great … lots of preparation the previous day had delivered a really good set up.

2

Saturday’s work was invaluable and I strongly advise all newly-approved ARKS racers to do as much as possible. I’d reached the stage where I was no longer fighting the kart, instead easing it through the twists and turns of the track. I was still a few seconds off race pace but I’m confident this will fall with more driving. Another experienced 177 driver at Forest Edge is Chris Hartridge, whose son also races with Wright Racing. First thing that day, he and David took me on a track walk and talked through each corner for grip, entry point, throttle and braking position. It was an excellent lesson in preparation. For example, going into the Bus Stop, I should blip the throttle to pump fuel into the carburettor and that should make it much more throttle responsive out of the corner. On the exit, I should also take some kerb as the slight unloading of the kart will allow the engine to build revs more quickly in time for the straight. It made a difference.

3

Another tip is to gauge performance with another competitor. There are six 177 ARKS newbies, and my chosen “shadow” is Rob Ruddy. He’s a bit faster than me and a bit more fluent around the track. By using him as a benchmark I’ll hopefully improve at a realistic rate. I put that into effect during Saturday practice and examined where he was strong and less strong on track. I’d discovered I could catch him through the corners but lost him in the straights. Haynes gave me good traction and exit speed and by the time of the Esses I could get close to Rob. Another opportunity was into Wingers – and it was here I tried an overtaking move. As we accelerated through Down Hill, Rob left the door open through Ansons turn, so I dived into the gap. We were wheel-to-wheel as both karts emerged from the corner on full throttle. Forces were pushing my kart towards the outer edge of the track and this, of course, was where Rob was positioned. He ended up with two wheels on the dirt as I pushed through the corner, but thankfully nothing more dramatic than that. It felt like a good move, albeit perhaps a bit too ambitious on my part.

 

Attaching yourself to a team is a must for the new driver. The experience of those in the know vastly outweighs the costs. On one of my practice laps, I lost all power though Haynes and coasted into the pits. God knows what had gone wrong. Back at the WTC, David and Colin set about the fault finding process with careful examination of the carburettor, fuel pump etc… The fault was traced back to a dead spark plug, something which also drastically curtailed the success of Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull in Bahrain a couple of weeks later.

 

While they don’t all cost of the earth, replacing parts does mount up. During one of the Sunday heats, while negotiating Haynes, I was whacked up the rear and the front of the CRG ended up tangled in the steering mechanism of Rob’s kart. The pile up was caused by another newbie barrelling in further back on cold brakes and tyres. My first reaction to this first racing accident was to throw my hands in the air and swear into the helmet. Once I had engaged brain, I realised I needed to get going. Un-mating the CRG from Rob’s chassis got me moving once again – with no apparent damage. The kart felt good through the Esses and into Wingers. It was only on my return to the pits that I discovered the right hand-steering track rod was bent like a banana. A quick repair job got me out on track for the 177 Final. Race completed, we waited for the results and it wasn’t a huge surprise to learn I was last – even though I finished. But the differences with the winner, Nick Maton, were stark. His average speed was 52.10mph, mine was 46.22mph; his best lap was 43.19s, mine was 47.31s. Also, the fastest guys were quickest around lap three; the novices mostly lap 6 to 8. More homework needed on where I’m losing time and more seat time for sure (I already have a few ideas).

4

Even though karting is seen my many outside the sport as a bit of recreational fun on a Saturday, it’s interesting to see current F1 drivers using karting as a serious training tool. Last year it was no surprise that Michael Schumacher trained on KZ-class machinery to see how his neck – and general fitness – were coping. The lack of power steering and considerable forces on the body make it a discipline to keep establish racers “honest”. Felipe Massa at the Bahrain Grand Prix also referred to karting during his rehabilitation. And it was heartening of all to learn that Mark Webber had got out in a Rotax machine a week before this year’s Australian Grand Prix – albeit for fun more than anything. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see him at Forest Edge. I’d even bring a few tinnies for that Saturday evening.

 

Next time: Forest Edge track gets an overhaul – with awesome results

 

 

 

 

PICTURE CAPTION TEXT:

 

Kart_1: 8 kilos lighter meant a new suit

Picture: Stephen Rees

 

Kart_2: Charging through “Haynes” – great grip out of this corner

Picture: Stephen Rees

 

Kart_3: On the brakes into the tight “Bus Stop” chicane

Picture: Stephen Rees

 

Combat_1: Battling with Rob Roddy into “Wingers Dip”

Picture: Edward Partridge

 

Combat_3: Closing in for the pass on my fellow ARKS novice

Picture: Edward Partridge

 

Combat_4: “…I have you now young Skywalker….”

Picture: Edward Partridge

 

Chris_H: Chris Hartridge’s invaluable track walk and tips saved at least a second during practice

[note to Mark: his name is spelt correctly] No picture credit needed

 

Pack: The kart in front is – whatever you like apart from mine

Picture: Edward Partridge

 

Spark_plug: Race engineer David isolating the cause of engine failure: a dead spark plug

No picture credit needed

 

Wheels: Colin Wright using lasers to adjust toe-in

No picture credit needed

 

Wheels_2: Colin Wright using lasers to adjust toe-in

No picture credit needed

 

Gearbox: Gearbox boys waiting for the green flag for practice

Picture: Edward Partridge

Where to race: Arrive and Drive kart racing

Many people are telling us that MSA owner-driver racing is far too complicated and expensive, but there is definitely still a demand for racing and for higher performance than the traditional corporate karts.

1
Buckmore Park from the air

Our tester Laurence Curran raced Rotax Max, 100 National and Prokarts several years ago and is now looking to get back into the sport. While he decides which class to enter, he’s racing in Club 100 meetings and in various Arrive & Drive races at Buckmore Park. Laurence has worked out figures of about £500 a weekend for MSA racing before buying a kart and a van so he wants to make the most of the opportunities available before he starts spending that much on karting.

Club 100

A look around the Club 100 paddock shows that about 50% of the racers are refugees from MSA racing. There is competition for a variety of experience levels in both Sprint and Endurance, racing on Birel karts with 115cc TKM BT82 engines as used in TKM Extreme. If you think you have a duff kart, you can request a change, and Club 100 employs testers who make sure the karts are up to standard all weekend. You get a different kart in each race/practice. They have no clutch, and if you go off there are prokarts with a lifting mechanism to bump start you again.

To drivers who are mostly used to driving prokarts, Club 100 says: “Although the CLUB100 karts are not significantly quicker than Prokarts, being a 2-stroke they deliver their power very differently. Added to the fact that they are direct drive, the throttle response is much sharper than from a 4-stroke with clutches. This can easily

catch out novice drivers as they try to get the power down smoothly out of corners. Furthermore, steering the kart with the throttle is rarely a technique used in a Prokart so for many novice drivers this is also something new that has to be learnt.”

In Sprint events the classes are Premier, Lightweight and Heavyweight, with Superheavyweights competing within the Heavy class. We estimate that the standard of racing in Premier is about as good as a top MSA club meeting. The entry levels are high enough for C finals. Endurance races are split up into Premier, Intermediate, Clubman and Rookie and are for teams of

2 or 3, although some people attempt it on their own!

2
The Club 100 Intermediates get off the line at Bayford Meadows

The format is Endurance on Saturday and Sprint on Sunday, with pre-event testing on Friday evening. Testing is available on dates throughout the year at Rye House as well. There is also an Open Endurance series at Rye House (where Club 100 is based)
and Buckmore. Laurence competed in the Buckmore Open event at the end of August and didn’t have a team, and Club 100 were happy to match him up with a couple of other drivers.

The tracks on the 2010 calendar have included Buckmore Park, Whilton Mill, Glan- y-Gors and Clay Pigeon, which if you are new to karting are some of the premier national standard circuits. Club 100 provide circuit guides on the website so you can revise beforehand.

Managing Director John Vigor is one
of the company’s biggest assets, highly personable but unlikely to take any rubbish from mouthy racers so is well respected by most. Penny Alt, the entries coordinator, is the other staff member that drivers will have most contact with and both make it their business to get to know everyone. Racers who are new to the series are assigned a “buddy”, one of the other racers who will help you get to know how things work. Online, there is a forum where members discuss the racing and post videos. Several people wear helmet cams so it’s well worth looking for some of those.

Club 100 also runs events for other companies such as Buckmore Park and the British Universities Kart Championship.

Visit Club100.co.uk for further information.

Costs

• Sprint £162 (you effectively get a free round if you pay for the 11-race series altogether)

• Endurance £425 per team

• Practice £125

• Club Membership £45, or £70 for an Endurance team

• Racewear hire £10 per day

Buckmore Park

Many kart circuits have developed their Arrive & Drive options to a very high level, with Buckmore Park in Kent being a prime example.

If you race there you can take part in a variety of events including test sessions, Bambino lessons and Sprint and Endurance races, and adults use karts from the Sodi RX7 range with a 390cc Honda 4-stroke engine which supposedly has multiple power settings. Unfortunately drivers can’t adjust those – we did have a good look!

3
The DMax kart

The standard of karts is a bit variable, but this is to be expected and differences in performance are more likely to be down to driver skill.

The marketing department has thousands of competitors on the books, mostly within the Southeast region. The demographic for the adult racers is fairly upmarket, but most drivers have nothing to do with owner-driver racing although there are a few dropouts from MSA racing. There is also a kart school for Bambinos, Cadets and Juniors. Circuit owner Bill Sisley says they do encourage the best drivers to go MSA racing but very few go down that route.

To race in the Adult events, drivers must be 16 or over (14 for MSA licence holders) but if under 18 they must be signed on by a parent or guardian.

It’s an exciting track and there is a possibility of an extension as well. Buckmore has excellent facilities, including a bar, and they try really hard to establish a community feel. This extends to a forum exclusively for racers on the website, as well as lively race reports from Race Director Alan Wood.

Admittedly we haven’t met the circuit staff under extremely stressed conditions, but Bill, Alan and Chris Pullman are very pleasant people with a sharp focus on giving racers what they are looking for.

4
The DMax kart

Visit Buckmore.co.uk for further information, or view the track on Google Maps at kartingm.ag/aEia3P. There is also a history of the track (kartingm.ag/cYcSiv) from it’s inception in the 1960s to 2010 and beyond.

Costs

These vary as there are a lot of different events but below are typical prices.
• Sprint £85
• Endurance £299 per team

Vodafone DMax

This article wouldn’t be complete without a mention of DMAX, but we haven’t had
a chance to try it yet. Basically, Daytona 
is running a Sprint and Endurance Championship on 22hp Rotax karts to
the spec used by Juniors in MSA racing. They race at a variety of tracks, including Whilton Mill and Hooton Park, as well as the Daytona-owned venues of Lydd and Milton Keynes. As with Club 100, they use specially designed Birel chassis with plenty of bodywork. There are also light and heavy classes to give everyone an equal chance.

Daytona is best known for their chain of corporate circuits and the have bought much loved circuits such as Lydd over the last few years.

Booking, locations and everything else on

daytonamax.co.uk

Costs

• Endurance £190

• Sprint £170

• DMax Cup £95

• Practice (1hr) £115

Next Month

We profile your options if you want your own kart but still want low-hassle racing
- including Easykart, Kart Grand Prix and if you’re young and fast, the U18 World Championship.

Mary-Ann Horley & Laurence Curran

Where to race: Old School karting for a new age

EasyKart-7266
Easykarts are designed to be identical except for some limited setup changes

Last month we looked at the various top end arrive and drive options. This month we’ve moved on to owner-driver racing but we’re looking at classes where people have had the vision to try and make racing easier for busy drivers.

KGP

The BMB HAT 125 is a relatively new engine from Birel’s BMB engine company, and is imported and supported by Andy Cox Racing. It is a TAG engine in so far as it has a starter motor, a balance shaft and centrifugal clutch. It has a vertically mounted reed valve. The overall concept has more in common with 100cc engines of old in that the water pump is externally driven from the axle and there is no power valve. The external water pump is a result of the crankcase being a carry over from the Easykart air cooled engine more of which later.

On venturing out on to the track at PF my first impressions of the engine were good. A very generous helping of mid RPM torque caught me out on cold tyres and I went sideways immediately after leaving the dummy grid. Straight away I made a mental note to take my time getting the tyres up to temperature. The lack of a power valve on this engine was not holding it back in terms of mid range punch and its pretty clear that a good job has been made of matching the pipe design to the engine and its fixed ignition system.

At very low RPM there is not very much torque but this is by no means a hindrance as when the engine comes on pipe it absolutely flies! Correct gearing and a moderate amount of driving skill is all it takes to keep things cooking in the power band. I drove a couple of pre-production engines that differed slightly in terms of delivery of power at mid RPM. Both engines had very similar high rpm characteristics though which may mean that these box standard engines had slightly different jet settings on the Tryton carburettor. A very good characteristic of engines like the KGP that have a butterfly carb is that there is no hesitation when you just stamp on the throttle as there can often be with float bowl slide carbs unless they are very well set up.

The power delivery softens as you reach the high RPM and the transition is gradual with the engine revving cleanly up to its soft rev limit of approximately 16500 rpm. This engine will surprise all but those Rotax racers with very well sorted engines in terms of its mid RPM power delivery but the top end power on the KGP is lacking that last push you get from a power-valved Max. In terms of driveability and adjustment of carburation the KGP is excellent, sharing its power delivery characteristics with the 100cc engines we last saw in 2007, particularly the Formula ICA engines, due to the similarity in timing of the exhaust port and three transfer ports.

The carb used on the engine has a 26mm choke and is typical of butterfly style carbs that have been sucessfully used in karting for decades. It has two screw type adjustment needles for the low and high jets making it easily adjustable. Simples!

The engine itself is a model of simplicity compared to the KF engines with their multiple electrickery boxes and plugs. The BMB has one loom with a single plug at each end that connects the ignition stator and starter on the engine to the CPU, a switch and button, an LED and a relay mounted under the nassau panel. Starting procedure is carried out by flicking on an ignition switch and pressing the starter button. Ignition on is indicated by a red LED.

One feature in particular that many may welcome is that the engine is not sealed in any way and a top end inspection and service can be easily carried out by those inclined to do so. Pistons are said by the importer to require changing after 10 hours use however anybody who races two stroke engines will tell you that a ring change at half of the pistons recommended life will bring some noticeable power gains. Many others will definitely say that while you are at it you may as well pop a new piston in there too if you can afford it.

The bottom end is reported to need a rebuild at 20 hours of use but there is no doubt in my mind that those who can, will replace bearings a lot sooner than that. Carrying out this work yourself if you are a club racer who has (or is keen to learn) some mechanical ability is a very cheap and satisfying way to go racing. After an investment has been made in the right tools (available from Dartford Karting) an engine rebuild can be done at cost by yourself for half what a professional will charge however the expertise in putting together a winning engine takes some time to learn and that is what you pay for with the pros, many of who will have thousands of hours of dyno time under their belts too. Rebuilding and trueing a crank can be quite challenging too.

However, if you’re not up for that, any two stroke specialist can rebuild it for you. GFR and Ogden have shown a lot of faith in the new class by buying engines to hire out and they also offer rebuilding and tuning services. Look out for special offers if you hire an engine and then want to buy it.

1
Factory driver Michael Simpson works on the kart

At this time the technical rules are not finalised but it is fairly definite that moderate tuning will be allowed to be carried out on the barrels and engines in general. The cylinder head volume will be fixed at 10cc with a 1mm minimum squish. The exhaust port timing must not exceed 180 degrees duration. There will also not be any changes allowed to the exhaust pipe although there may not be any major advantages to be had in changing any of those things because it is not possible to alter the ignition timing on the BMB to suit any radical tuning. In any case the scrutineers will be on the look out for any illegal head volumes, off-set crank keys and exhaust spacers.

Slick tyres for the class are to be the Vega XH and I was very impressed with the high levels of grip given by them. I tried two sets, one set with over 50 laps on them and another set that were less than 15 laps old. After the initial short-lived advantage naturally given by brand new tires ended they appeared to be very hard wearing with very good consistency as they wore on. Others present at the test reported the same and went so far as to say the tyres showed very little drop off in performance up to 200 laps. Overall I could not fault the tyre performance for the short period I spent on them.

It is still early days yet for the KGP engine in the UK and like all new products there are teething problems. The starter motor has been very unreliable on the pre-production engines although it is being changed for another make of motor along with an o-ringed support that will be installed on engines available for purchase soon. The clutch on one of the pre-production engines gave us some trouble towards the end of the day and a main bearing developed a tight spot although this was discovered before any major damage occured. These engines were used on a number of days as demonstrators, had done many hours prior to this track test and to be fair were due a rebuild.

Those people who have water pumps and radiators from 100cc engines may be able to use them on the KGP. Any Birel Free Line radiators are eligible to be used as are the standard radiators used on the Formula Blue engines. There are other makes of suitable radiators on the market however the importer needs to be contacted as to whether these other rads will be allowed when the series kicks off in 2011.

The KGP series certainly looks promising and early impressions from many who have tried the engines has been quite favourable. The concept behind it is clearly to bring kart engines back to their roots while still retaining the added luxuries that the various TAG engines have brought to the sport in the last decade, but without the relative complexity of the KF engines. It has the potential to change the face of karting in the UK much in the way the Rotax FR125 did more than a decade ago and the TKM BT82 before that. The real test for the KGP idea will be whether it takes off at club level, something the KF engines have failed to do, so ACR has set up an incentive package for clubs and competitors.

Easykart

Easykart has been around for a few years now and is growing in popularity. The series was also brought to the UK by Birel importer Andy Cox and the championship is organised by Club 100. The Easykart concept is aimed squarely at people who want to race and own their karts and take part in a competitive championship run under MSA regulations and all on a budget. There are 4 classes – 60cc Cadet, 100cc junior and 125cc senior heavy and light. As the name suggests it it aimed at people who want to own an easy to run kart that is cheap to race. For a reasonable price Easykart offer a preparation and storage/transport option for those without the time or space to work on their own karts.

To get a good idea of what it is like to race in Easykart we interviewed recent new entrant to the series, Mike Roots.

“I have raced for 15 years various karts such as Thunderkarts, Rotax Max, TKM, British University Karting Championship, Club100 and now Easykart. I came out of uni and did TKM on a budget, and although got good results I thought the money was having a too big impact on my life so decided to join Club 100. I loved Club 100 and won the heavyweight championship in my first year. I then bought an Easykart and did my first round at Whilton Mill in which I came 2nd. After a few months out, I am prepping for the start of 2011 season of Easykart and aiming at place in the World Finals.”

“The chassis on the Easykart is pretty balanced, is rewarding to drive on the limit but also challenging like any TKM or Rotax CIK chassis I have driven. They are not as wide on the front as a modern CIK chassis but the turn in is consistent and the chassis as flexible as needed whilst the rear grip is well balanced. The karts are adjustable with front ride height, front and rear width, Ackerman, tracking, seat position etc yet the axle, seat and rims are a set regulated part, meaning no changes can be made in terms of product stiffness or material characteristic, meaning less money and testing is required to find the perfect balance on the kart compared to your competition.”

“The engines are the best part of the class, proving great power delivery in all areas. Unlike a Rotax and TKM where the power levels out, the IAME keeps on pulling and has a great exhaust note. The power delivery at the bottom end is great, allowing even an inexperienced driver to get out of trouble. The power delivery is smooth throughout the rev range and results in very similar lap times to a Rotax Max. The engine has a good service interval, twinned with a reliable carburettor. The series allows you to change carburettor and exhaust but only allows for one engine per chassis, cutting costs massively. If you have engine problems at the track Andy Cox Racing will loan you an engine to use to eliminate the issue of being stuck without a spare engine.”

“The tyres are made by Vega, and we are not seeing the issues that Rotax has seen this year in seniors. They compound is pretty soft and we typically replace a set at each round like you would in any competitive formula in the world.

“The Easykart series is the best I have raced in, or been part of. It is not as professional as Euromax, but then that is not its aim as this is not the type of series which Andy Cox or JV (John  Vigor) at Club 100 wants to create. It is not stuffy or aggressive and it is a lovely place for friends and family to spend time. Club 100 are the promoters of the series and are also an amazing bunch of people who go out of their way to keep the customers happy. It is very competitive and there is the opportunity for every entrant to race at the Easykart world championship.”

“The racing also benefits from the minimal amount of set up that can be made to the karts such as axles, seats, wheels as this means you don’t have to spend £100s buying different seats and wheels and then end up spending money going testing. If you can drive and put a kart on the grid which is reliable, you can then copy the set up of the quickest driver as nothing is hidden, then only have yourself to blame if you are not as quick. This is unlike most other MSA classes where there is an endless amount of set-up changes you can make. This means testing days can be dramatically reduced, saving again on money throughout the year.”

“The cost of racing in Easykart is thought to be expensive for people who have only ever done Club 100, but drivers in the Easykart paddock who have raced in other MSA classes will acknowledge that the racing is comparatively cheap and that the cost of spares is not that expensive considering you only have to have one of each. There is no need for multiple axles of different grades in Easykart, and four different types of rims.”

Karting Tips: Driver Feedback

stock-joynerthroughout this post, we want to take a look at the subject of driver feedback, both from the driver and given to the driver as this is an area little understood for its importance, good feedback is also the way in which you are likely to create more trust and confidence between the relevant people involved with a driver and the driver him or herself.

Post race driver feedback is essential to get right if you want to see improvements and build confidence, it really doesn’t matter whether it is testing, practice, qualifying,  race or other but when the driver comes back in from a session the first 5 to 10 minutes are crucial for providing feedback and gathering information, there are a few exceptions to this though and they are mainly for the younger children as they may need some time to reflect and make sense of things for themselves before they are able to provide any form of adequate feedback, some are able to but on the whole with the younger children you are more often than not better to provide them with your feedback and give them some time before quizzing.

One of the easiest things in the world to do is to find fault, it seems to be human nature that we criticize, you only have to stand in the collecting area when the karts come in from a session and listen, there will be someone criticizing a driver for something, often times something trivial as well, sometimes it can be justified, but what we want to get into here is the way it is done and when.

The first thing I want you to think about is how you yourself feel when someone criticizes you for anything, some people get defensive and find reason to have a go back in order to deflect the criticism, some feel threatened and frightened, some get angry, some want to shrivel up and go hide, some become embarrassed, the responses are so varied, notice though that nobody ever welcomes criticism with open arms and a smile on their face because they might learn something, virtually everyone will have some form of negative response or reaction to being criticized.

So how do we give and receive feedback where driver, mechanics and coaches can gather useful information without confrontation or anyone left feeling bad? Well it’s actually very simple and I have a formula for this, for anyone who has driving experience of at least 18 months, is older than 10 and is able to verbalize accurately what the kart did in the session then the first thing you do is ask them what they feel the kart did, what they might want to change, also feedback on any changes that were made for that session, then just let them speak without interruption. In the case of youngsters and the less experienced you provide the feedback first and give them little hints about what you saw the kart perform like.

So when the information about the kart has been gathered for the older more experienced, you then give them feedback on what they did that was good, what they have improved upon, if they didn’t get all of their lines right but did get some right you focus on the praise of what they did get right. Now, here is the important bit, where the driver was struggling, or with areas of the track they made mistakes, or where their race craft was less than perfect you first of all ask them what they think they could improve on, let them talk without interruption or correction. Once you have that information you can then give your feedback, but, when you do this keep in the back of your mind that what you are doing is giving them information on what it is they could focus on improving because you know that in time they will actually master it, put your information across in such a way that you are being nice to them and helpful, after all we want their racing to be enjoyable, and let’s face it we always do things well and with enthusiasm when we enjoy what we are doing and avoid doing things that we don’t enjoy, we certainly never have enthusiasm if we are forced to do something, especially when we get shouted at or heavily criticized.

Sometimes there may be people around such as other drivers, mechanics, coaches and like that we would rather not have overhear what we are teaching the driver, in these circumstances you just have to wait until or create a situation where this can be done without giving anything away to anyone else.

Here is an example of a critical driver feedback “I can’t believe you keep on messing up that chicane, how many times do I have to show you, I mean, what do you think when you are out there, useless, I spend all this money and you can’t even follow a simple instruction” That is an actual feedback I overheard! What would have been far more constructive would have been to say something more along the lines of “an area for improvement would be the chicane, if you turn in later you can hit the apex at that point we talked about”…..so on and so on, that will leave the driver thinking about what they want to do, it will eliminate the pressure and anxiety of making mistakes and being punished for it by way of criticism.

What happens to anyone and especially with children is that the more criticism they receive the more they shut down, the less they hear, the more tense they become, tension when driving causes them to be rigid and the least little mistake they make causes them to be distracted with thoughts of trouble or criticism when they come off the track at the end of a race or session. So getting frustrated with a driver and placing massive pressures on them can have the opposite effect of the one you actually want.

Rarely there are exceptions to this, where a child has been brought up all their lives receiving pressure and being heavily criticized it becomes the norm, they connect the criticism with receiving attention and for a child any attention is better than no attention, and so this particular child will only perform well when being shouted at, the child then learns that shouting and being angry is the way we communicate to put across the point.

I say that feedback is critical in the first 5 to 10 minutes because everything is fresh in the mind and whilst the brain is assessing the session and filing stuff away in its archives of memory in that period when they have just finished the session you are able to influence the way the thought or memory is perceived, therefore influencing confidence and self belief.

Sometimes we do have to be firm and put a point across, but again there is a right way to do this and a wrong way. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel frustrated and you just know you are going to be critical it is better to take a breath first and think about what you need to say and how you are going to say it, if you just know that won’t work then it is better to say nothing of what has got you all bothered and wait until you feel you can calmly discuss it and end up with a constructive outcome.

If you have any questions or need any advice with this then you can contact me via the karting magazine or my website www.competitionmind.co.uk

Setting yourself a target for next season

Stock-GridSo, you’re either at the end of the season and thinking about next year or you might be in a winter series or testing. What happens next year depends on a number of factors, one of which is how you think and what goals you set yourself?

What is a goal? Well it’s a target, its something that focuses our attention, it creates motivation and drive, it organizes us, a goal will help us to push past our own boundaries and is essential in many ways. Usually at this stage I will always ask the guys that I work with what they have learnt this year, what they could do differently next year and then we talk about the all important subject of goals.

Many people mock the setting of goals, but if you think about it there isn’t a single successful business out there that doesn’t set a goal, whether a financial one or a market share or some other, it is one of the foundations of success. Most unsuccessful businesses fail because they didn’t set goals or they didn’t have a proper plan.

One of the favorite metaphors that I use is this – if an airplane takes off from Heathrow heading for New York and its roughly one degree out, it will end up in Florida. So how does it get to its destination, it monitors where it is at any given point and checks to see if it’s where it should be. When they take off they know how long they want the journey to be, they know the route, they know where the destination is in relation to where they are at any given point, they know what fuel they need to get them there and so on. Incidentally a pilot once told me that an aircraft is off coarse 95% of the time because of fluctuations in air pressure, cross breezes, turbulence and other factors and that they constantly monitor their progress.

Setting our goals isn’t any different from an airliner. We know where we are now, we decide where we want to be, we think about what we need to get us there whether it is equipment, technical training, diet or physical fitness or some other resource that we have lacked in the past and need to improve on.

Those of you who have done some business training will be familiar with the good old SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reasoned and Timed. Well that does work, but we need to be even clearer than that. I want you to follow this process, so grab a pen and paper, even if you don’t race and you’re a working parent this will help you at the very least to help your young one get their goals in place, just humor us and see what happens, at the very least it will make you think about something you maybe never considered before.

The first thing you need to do is to be really honest with yourself about what you have achieved in this current year.
Then you have to be even more honest about what excuses you have made, really honest, write them down.
What did you need this year that would have made a difference; this can be anything from a materialistic point or physical, anything. Write them down.

Now, what do you want to achieve next year. This is real important, your goal needs to be such that it is achievable; some people set goals so massive that as soon as they get the first hurdle or failure they hit the mind catastrophe and give up, then see everything as impossible. Its ok to set your target so that it is higher than that of what you achieved this year, but that you can reach it and if needs be you can change it in the season to be a higher place. If you set your target as just one place higher than you finished this year then that doesn’t really motivate does it, so avoid playing safe, unless of coarse you finished in the top 5. In other words challenge yourself without setting yourself up for self sabotage. Write it down and be very specific about it.

What is the first thing you are going to do to start achieving your goal, and when? Write it down listing everything that’s relevant.
What don’t you know how to do, how will you find the answers and by when? Write it down
What don’t you have that you need materialistically, how will you get it and by when? Write it down.
What other resources and skills will you need to help you get your goal? Where and how will you get them, and by when. Write them all down.

Will anyone else be affected by you achieving this goal, in other words are you likely to meet any resistance. Then ask yourself the ways that you can either include them or get their support, or set aside time for them so that they are included in your life in some way and that a balance is achieved to eliminate any guilt and therefore avoid self sabotage. Write it all down.
What will achieving this goal really mean to you? What reasons do you have for achieving it, really think hard about this and make them so you feel motivated to achieve this goal. Write it all down.

Will you enjoy the challenge of achieving this goal?
Is this for you, this goal must be for you, its pointless setting it for someone else’s benefits or because its what someone else wants you to achieve, that is unless you have established first and foremost that it is what you want and the other person or person’s are in total agreement and support.

When is this going to happen, as in when will you know you have achieved this goal, a specific date. Write it down.
Now write down all of the people you need to speak to, all of the things that you need, compile a complete list to work to that will help keep you focused and organized, include completion dates and any other relevant details. Some people dislike lists and fly by the seat of their pants leaving everything to the last minute and then getting into a blind panic, either get used to using this idea or devise your own system that works for you.

Now, I’m not suggesting that everyone of you will achieve all of your goals and that its all going to be roses down the garden path, but, you stand a much better chance of achieving what you want if you know where your going, what you need to get there and what you are going to do along the way, than if you just ambled along saying I’m going to drive in such and such competition and would like to finish in say the top 10.

The above isn’t the full way of setting goals but it is a great concise way that still works well if you put in the effort. The secret to getting the best from it is to write out the answers and then review it and write it out almost in a story fashion, and then you have to monitor it and be flexible to avoid sabotage, keep your lists of items and resources required and get busy organizing them. To the unconverted and determined idiots it could seem corny, but it isn’t any different from what the successful person or business does, set targets, have meetings to monitor where they are, make decisions etc. with everyone working to the same end goal. Even when you enter a competition, getting there is a goal with the preparation of the Kart, transport, entries, kit, route there, time to set out, time to arrive, food, and money and so on.

Take your time with this and really think about it, you will be surprised at the people who already do this, I have 2 national champions, several grand prix riders and a host of other club level riders and competitors who do their goals with me every year because they know the power behind them and the drive that it creates, so if its good enough for them, its certainly good enough for anyone else.

The most important thing is to enjoy your sport, on its own this creates better results.

If you have any questions or need any advice with this then you can contact me via the karting magazine or my website  www.competitionmind.co.uk

Confidence is key

Stock-KartingCrashWe all talk about confidence all the time and usually in the correct context, I’ve brought the word into virtually every article, we say things like “he/she doesn’t look very confident in overtaking on the hairpin” or “he/she attacks that curb with confidence” but do you actually know what the definition of confidence really is, how you have it, how you obtain it and maintain it, how do you actually explain this mysterious concept of confidence? In summery the dictionary of psychology describes the word confidence as being one of trust, a belief and trust in one’s own ability, an assuredness, being able to rely on the self to carry out any given task or to be able to perform in any given situation, of being able to detect outside signals and interpret them correctly then to have the ‘confidence’ to make the correct choice of response and or solution to the given outside signal.

Let’s now unravel this definition and make it useful and this article therefore beneficial to you in some way or another – what is it about someone who looks confident, there is something about them that tells us they are feeling confident or even in context of what karting is about that they are driving confidently. When a driver is driving confidently they are positive in their actions, they are decisive, they appear to be making decisions when driving that work for them, they appear to be thinking ahead of themselves and placing the kart in beneficial positions, driving mostly the right lines and being consistently fast, often when the track is in transition from wet to dry or vice versa and they need to find the grip that they are doing so and again driving with confidence, hesitation is more or less nonexistent, the driver appears to be far more focused on what they are doing rather than what anyone else is doing.

Other ingredients that are part of driving with confidence are when the level of skill and ability is equal to that of the challenge and or competition they are competing in, for example if you put a new Cadet in their first year of driving into British championship round against far more experienced and harder driving slightly older children in that class then you can be almost certain that nerves and fear will set in and inhibit the drivers ability to learn and concentrate, they will make lots of mistakes, be intimidated by the event itself and also the other competitors thus damage the growth of confidence in the driver.

Expectations are another very large contributory factor in levels of confidence; let’s take our example of the new Cadet being thrown into the deep end, if the parent or other significant influence on the child places too high of an expectation on the child and relays these expectations to the child then there is also the risk of fear of failing the adult, this leads to heightened anxiety and failure is then more or less a given because the driver will be tense and anxious. Even when a competitor is competing in a competition that is at their level of ability along with it being challenging to them and the expectations are too high and the driver fails then this will damage the growth of confidence. The level of expectations should be realistic taking all factors into account, personally I never talk about expectations with any driver I work with, it is better to completely put to one side any talk of expectations and concentrate on the more important aspects of goals which we covered in the February 2011 edition, along with a plan for any given race wherever possible, ensuring the driver knows their lines and any other significant details of the track they are racing on.

Confidence grows when we have success at any given task and we therefore gain the belief that we can do something. Overtaking for the inexperienced driver is a classic example, the reason for this is quite simple, when a child starts learning to drive they have so much input into their senses that they can only cope with certain amounts at any given moment in time, the greater part of their experience is given up to the processes of making sense of what is happening when driving and focusing on getting their lines right so that they can achieve a lap time. They usually are learning this on tracks where there are older children and the learner experiences the playground conditioning of fear of the older boys, also the belief that others are better than them and they are constantly being overtaken.

What needs to happen is that the novice needs to have positive experiences of overtaking, first this can be done artificially in a deliberately set up environment where the driver can begin collecting positive experiences and references. I use this only as an example as there are many different ingredients that go into becoming a good efficient driver and competitive driver that is confident in his or her ability on any track and in any situation. When a driver is inexperienced at any given task and they are faced with a situation which they have no reference for then the more you will see them freeze as their mind attempts to work out what to do, they will make more mistakes and it takes time and patience to build their confidence

The more that the driver can predict what is going to happen, the more the driver has references for many different race scenarios, driving techniques, the different lines for the different conditions, the different tracks, the different competition environments, the more the driver knows the people around them in the team and on the track, the more the drivers learn by positive experience and positive interactions with those around them the quicker and stronger their confidence grows. Add to this the correct goal setting, the challenge of the event and level of competition being equal to and posing a challenge which is going to motivate the driver to improve their performance then the more belief and trust in themselves the driver will have.

Preparation is also another of the main keys to success, not only in terms of equipment but also in terms of the driver; it is a known fact that even fitness and being happy with our bodies raises confidence, not only from the point of view that the fit drivers have the stamina to compete but also that is raises their self esteem. The more familiar the driver is with procedures and rules, kart set up and feelings of the different set ups then the easier it is for them to build and avoid losing confidence.

If you have any questions or would like any advice on any of the points raised in this article you can contact me via the karting magazine or by email neil@competitionmind.co.uk