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Circuit Guide: Hooton Park

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The Hooton Park kart circuit, situated a stone’s throw away from junction 6 of the M53, opened its doors in 2006 on the site of the old RAF Hooton airfield; making it the newest MSA licensed track in the country.

The Lap

A lap of Hooton Park starts with a long straight leading to Turn 1, a 90° right. On entry there is an extra bit of tarmac on the left which can be used for braking and set up a wider entry to the corner so minimum steering is required for making the apex. The kerb is low but running it just tends to upset the kart but be sure to use as much of the run-off kerb as possible to maximise your cornering speed. This is one of two obvious overtaking spots on the track as you can get a tow from the kart in front up the start/finish straight and the wide entry leaves plenty of room up the inside for passing them.

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This circuit lends itself to great racing…

Turn 2

A short straight follows to Turn 2. On paper it looks similar to the first turn but this one only requires a lift on entry, has a higher apex kerb and has nowhere near as much run-off kerb. Approach from the left and move in to clip the apex mid-corner before just brushing the run-off kerb on the exit. When the track is green, it is a common mistake to carry too much speed into this turn and suddenly experience oversteer at the apex so it’s critical to not push too hard into this corner during those first few sessions after a rainstorm.

Turn 3

Next up is another long straight which leads into the very fast Turn 3. This right handed corner is 180° from entry to exit and starts tight before opening out on exit. So, with this in mind, an early apex and high entry speed is required therefore braking can be left until just before the marshal post (or level if you’ve got a well set-up kart and feeling brave) and smoothly roll the kart through a mid-kerb apex. Leave putting the power on until you’re past the apex and let the kart run out to the outside white line for the remainder of the curve on to the next straight. It is important not to bring in the power too early or hard as the amount of rubber that is usually present at this bend will cause the rear of the kart to destabilise itself, either through hopping or sliding, which will cost you vital tenths of a second. The key to this corner is that you must be very smooth on all counts (braking, steering and throttle).

T3 is the second obvious overtaking spot on the track as the long straight before it allows you to pick up a tow and get alongside them by the braking zone. You can lean on your opponent on the exit too as you let your kart run wide naturally giving them the option of either dropping in behind you or taking a trip over the grass.

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Trecherous in the wet, Hooton Park can be difficult to get right.

Turn 4

Now you’re on the infield part of the track as you drive the “slightly curving left” straight towards the left handed Turn 4. This bend consists of a wide entry which is horribly off-cambered the further right you go so it’s best to approach this corner from a mid-track position. Begin braking about level with the start of the first inside kerb and keep trail-braking past the aforementioned kerb and get the kart so it’s at mid-track again for the second part of the corner which is tighter and narrower. If you’ve done the first part right, you should just be able to let off the brakes from your mid-track position to turn into an apex just clipping the inside kerb before getting on the power smoothly to run your outside wheel over the end of the exit kerb. As with T3, a lot of rubber can get laid here too so it’s important to be smooth on the throttle and steering round this corner. Overtaking is possible if you can get well inside your opponent before the first inside kerb, but be wary of the fact that they probably won’t see you until they’ve started turning in so it’s important that you’re fully committed to making the move stick before you attempt it. Failing that, if they get caught out by the off-camber round the first part, it could leave enough room to nip up the inside before the second kerb.

Turn 5 and 6

Once you’ve left T4, quickly get yourself to the left of the track ready for the Turns 5 & 6 chicane. This is a very fast part of the track which requires a bit of kerb to be quick. Enter the chicane flat out, getting close but not hitting the right hand kerb before lifting off the throttle and clipping the left hand kerb with your wheels whilst keeping as tight as possible on exit ready for the next corner. It used to be quicker putting your whole kart over the left hand kerb, but years of people taking the same line have left a massive nosecone formed dip on the inside of the kerb so it’s now quicker and smoother to just clip it with your wheels.

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I never knew Ayrton Senna raced here!? Or drove an X30!

Turn 7

Turn 7 follows immediately after the chicane which is why it’s important to stay as far over to the left as possible on the exit of the previous corner. This curve is similar to the Horseshoe at Clay Pigeon but going right instead of left. Brake on the very short straight part between T6 and T7 before turning into a mid to late apex on the first part, which has positive camber. At this point, balance the throttle whilst letting the kart roll out to a mid-track position between the two apexes before getting on the power fully ready to turn into the second apex (off-cambered this time) before running wide on the exit, the run-off kerb is almost non-existent so it’s best using the white line as your guide at this point to gauge how wide you can go. Late lunges are possible here, as when the kart in front lifts to take the second part of the previous chicane, simply take it flat out all the way through letting the kart go all the way over to the other side of the track and outbrake them before they turn into T7. However it’s also just as easy to overcook the entry speed and watch your opponent cut back past your inside through the second apex.

After you’ve exited the corner, get your head down and follow the straight past the start line ready to go another lap of the Hooton Park kart circuit. A fast, flowing circuit which provides great racing for both MSA and IndiKart drivers alike.

 

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