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.