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Features from Karting magazine

Track Guide: Lonato

lonato

 

The South Garda kart track was built in 1988 by Geometri Corberi and is situated near Lonato, east of Milan in Northern Italy.With a length of 1010m and a width of 9m, the track which is CIK FIA homologated, every year plays host to many International competitions – such as the Winter Cup and in past seasons, the European and World Championships.

The Lap

“As you cross the Start line, you’ll be flat out on the throttle. Position your kart to the right hand side of the circuit but leave a gap of about one foot from the yellow line. It’s not necessary to brush along the grass as the first turn is just a gentle left hander. Keeping on the gas and bouncing off the limiter, gently turn left, clipping the apex and position yourself in the centre of the track as the track raises ready for the flat out right hander which is turn two. Be very careful not to drift too far left after Turn 1 thinking you’ll have a better line for Turn 2. During a race weekend, bits of rubber from the tyres congregate off the racing line and during the dry, these bits of rubber act like ‘marbles’ and if you wander onto these bits of rubber, you will lose complete grip and be sent flying off the circuit.

Turns 2 & 3

is a double right hander that although daunting, you don’t lift and you take them flat out. It can be quite bumpy so keeping the kart tight and on the perfect line as well as smoothness on the steering wheel is of paramount importance. Otherwise, your kart will hop or you’ll just end up developing oversteer which will cost you time. Although on the track map it as classed as two corners you just take it as one big one. Exiting Turn 3 and there’s a short straight which you allow the kart to drift over fully to the left hand side of the track using the momentum from Turn 3.

Turn 4 & 5

These are extremely important. Approaching Turn 4, you keep your foot hard on the gas and as you turn in, ease off the accelerator carrying fast speed into the corner. Good strong arms and upper body strength is required here as the more speed you take into Turn 4, more the energy is transferred from the steering wheel and into you. It’s important to load up the kart on the approach to Turn 5 for a quick lap. The more speed you take into 4 the better the load will be. Allow the kart to drift left as you take the natural racing line but try not to use too much brake. Simply turn the steering and get that inside wheel to lift to help spin you around corner 5. Good loading is very important on this corner as the exit begins to go uphill and any bogging down really does hurt the lap time.

Turn 6

As you exit Turn 5 there’s a short straight that goes uphill with a tiny left kink leading towards a difficult left hander that is, Turn 6.This turn is probably the hardest turn to get right because its tight. However, with the amount of rubber that gets laid down, it’s possible to take a lot of speed through this turn. So as you can imagine, get it right and you’re on the time, get it wrong and it can cost you three tenths to half a second easy. So for the corner on entry, you go slightly wider than the middle of the track. As you approach the corner you come off the gas rolling with a good amount of speed in and allowing the rear wheel to come up and then get back on the gas just before the corner to give you a good exit! But you must keep to the left to get yourself ready for the next few corners ahead. As you exit the corner there is a bit of a straight with a very gentle right hander which leads you past the mechanics on your approach the first hairpin (Turn 7) that’s a left turn.

Turn 7

The approach to the first hairpin is quite difficult under braking as there is a small bump and big drop downhill. This is the notorious place that overtaking gets accomplished. Due to the nature of the hairpin, a lot of speed can be carried through the turn which encourages drivers to outbreak each other. For a flying lap, approach on full throttle then snap on the brakes and load the kart up to lift the inside wheel to prevent bogging but still carrying a good amount of speed and to ease you through the tight complex of the first two hairpins. You can apex a little later than the middle of the corner but- be careful not to run too wide.

Turn 8

Try to keep at very worst to the centre of the track and bring it back a little to the left for the immediate right handed hairpin . Smoothness is key especially as your speed is fairly slow and any form of sliding or hopping will destroy your lap time. Important still is the exit of the second hairpin which is a fairly sized straight, so the exit of the second hairpin is fundamental compared to entry. Top tip, don’t enter too fast and focus on the exit!

Turn 9, 10 and 11

Now flat out down the short straight into a series of hairpins which lead to the final corner. The first hairpin (Turn 9) isn’t the hardest one of the three as it’s a fairly simple, just like the ones at PFi. The only difference is that you must apex a little later to prepare yourself for the second of the three hairpins. Upon the exit of Turn 10 bring the kart to the far right hand side for the left hand hairpin, which again is similar to the second hairpin at PFi only you have to apex a little later around the corner to come over to the right for the final hairpin (Turn 11) and the final corner of the lap. During a racing situation, be careful at this point. If someone lunges down your inside, there’s nowhere for you to go and you’ll be severely compromised which will have a knock on effect to the final turn.

Turn 12

As you exit the left hand hairpin, pull the kart to the very far left hand side for the final corner which is a right handed hairpin. This is one of the most important corners of the circuit as your exit speed will determine your top end speed along the start straight. As with the previous hairpin, be careful that no one tries to overtake you because, if they do it will compromise your speed all the way down the straight and can put you under pressure from other drivers. The good thing with the final turn is that should someone make a lunge, if you can hang on around the outside and keep your foot down, you’ll have the inside line for the first corner and you should be able to keep the position. Under normal circumstances, apex late and allow the kart to run wide maximising the track and get ready to start another lap of this brilliant circuit.

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Track Guide: Blackbushe

 

 

Circuit-Blackbushe

Start/Finish Straight
Whilst the 125m start/finish straight is driven as a straight line, the original circuit construction was completed with meandering circuit edges. 40m before the first corner there is a slight right hand kink in the straight, which drivers often cut to create a ‘straight line’ braking zone into Turn 1. This driving line can prevent opponents from pulling alongside and overtaking on the inside into the first corner.

Turn 1 & 2 – Bennetts & Wish Bend
Bennetts and Wish Bend can be tackled as a double apex corner in order to maximise speed through this sequence. Start with a hard dab on the brakes after the long straight which is key to a clean and early apex into Bennetts, before aiming to place the right hand front tyre as close as possible to the inside kerb. On clipping the apex, gently release the steering lock and let the kart run out to the left hand edge of the circuit, pointing the kart towards the end of the exit kerb on the left hand side of the circuit.

It is tempting to turn in early to Turn 2, Wish Bend. Instead, keep the kart out wide for slightly longer than feels natural and lift off the throttle on turn-in, getting back on the power as the front right hand tyre clips the last few teeth of the apex kerb. The circuit naturally rises through Wish Bend, which momentarily unweights the kart, as well as making the late apex difficult to sight, so this is possibly one of the trickiest corners to master at Blackbushe.

On the exit of Wish Bend, position the kart so that it runs three quarters of the way across the circuit, rather than attempting to use the full circuit width, straightening the kart so it is well positioned for entry into the next sequence of the circuit.

Turn 3 & 4 – The Esses
There really is little rest around Blackbushe; Immediately after navigating through the first set of corners, it is time to concentrate on the Esses.

On entry to the Esses, place the kart in the middle of the circuit on a constant three quarter throttle and maintain a consistent distance from the left hand track edge as the circuit begins to gently curve left. As the corner tightens further to the left, briefly apply slightly more steering to ‘jack the kart’ into the turn, aiming towards the white line located at the end of the apex kerb. Once the kart is positioned correctly, unwind the steering and apply full power so the kart effectively drives in a straight line into the Esses. Some of the left-hand kerb can be used on approach to the apex but drivers should be wary of unsettling the kart.

This driving line will position the kart in preparation to quickly change direction and hit the second right hand apex of the Esses. With a slight lift off the throttle, place the kart so that the right wheels clip the last part of the apex kerb immediately applying full power after the apex. Since the kerb here is situated in the ‘middle of the track’ (it delineates the divide from the direct drive and gearbox permutations), it is tempting to cut more of the kerb, but this can lead to running wide on the exit or, worse, spinning.

On exit from the Esses, maintain full throttle and let the kart run out to the last part of the exit kerb on the left hand side of the circuit as the track begins to gently slope downhill.

Turn 5 & 6 – Cooper Curve & Top Pit Bend
Turn 5 is a flat out 150 degree left hand kink in the track. The optimum line requires the driver to take a late apex through the kink, positioning the kart in a straight line and running parallel to the left hand edge of the track on the exit. For a quick driver exiting the Esses, it is possible to pull alongside a slower driver on the outside around Cooper Curve and set up an over-take on the inside into Turn 6. However, this may compromise exit speed onto the following straight so some thought is required as to your race tactics before making a ‘lunge’.

After Cooper Curve, the track continues to drop downhill into a 20m straight before a fast entry into the 73 degree, off camber, right hander called Top Pit Bend, which could be likened to a less extreme version of Paddock Hill Bend at Brands Hatch. A conventional racing line can be driven through this downhill corner, with a dab of the brake and a slight lift off the throttle required on entry to point the kart into the corner. Position the wheels as close as possible to the apex and exit kerbs without actually hitting them and take care not to run wide on the exit since the kart will straddle the kerb and is likely to result in the loss of a race position.

On the exit of Top Pit Bend, the circuit straightens for 50m along ‘Pit Straight’. Maintain full throttle and keep the kart on the left hand side of the circuit along this section of straight, driving parallel to the kerb on the left hand side of the track. There is a small compression before the track rises slightly uphill towards Turn 7.

Turn 7 – Pit Bend
Pit Bend is a fast entry right handed corner, which leads into the final Chicane. The turn-in point should be at the transition from asphalt to grass on the left hand side of the track and definitely after the compression to avoid getting the kart ‘out of shape’ on corner entry.

As the kart turns in, lift off the throttle and then gently reapply the power through the corner to balance the kart through the long right hander and into the entry of the chicane, taking care not to ‘overdrive’ the corner or run wide. Some drivers prefer to take a fast entry into the corner which can result in running wide through the corner. However, a driver maintaining a tighter inside line through this long right hander can sometimes sneak past a driver ahead creating a potential overtaking opportunity for the thoughtful racers.

Turn 8 – The Chicane
The Chicane is the final corner sequence around the lap and arguably the most important corner to master a smooth line and optimise gearing since it leads onto the long start/finish straight.

A good exit from Pit Bend should ideally allow a short burst on the throttle and a straight line entry into The Chicane complex, before braking for the left hander of the chicane. Maintaining control of the kart under braking here is important, so the driver can get on the throttle as early as possible and power through the chicane as the steering lock unwinds. On exit of the chicane, use some of the kerb on the right hand side of the circuit and then let the kart naturally run out to the far left on re-entering the start finish straight to maximise top speed as the lap is completed. A clean exit from the Chicane could provide an opportunity to overtake onto the straight and possibly take that all important position on the final lap!

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