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There were two reasons for my visit to the Lakeside Karting venue. Firstly their new Pro Karts had arrived so I was keen to get it out in them, but on my arrival I was desperate to try what looked like a challenging, but fun circuit layout.
On first view the Lakeside circuit may seem fairly compact, but this exaggerates the elevation changes which makes getting round it challenging.
So once I’d finished looking around the circuit it was time to get ready and head up to see the new karts.
The first thing I have to say is the staff at Lakeside are very impressive. The turnovers they had between sessions ran super smoothly and they were all very informative and helpful.
The karts themselves are very well presented. To sit in they were very comfortable and the seat was a good fit which was a bonus! Adjustable pedals also meant my legs were in a comfortable position.
Once I had the tyres up to temperature (which took around a lap) I got my first proper feel for the kart. I was busy trying to get around a demanding circuit, but overall the kart felt very good to me.
Steering was very responsive, the brakes were doing their job more than well and the acceleration was as good if not better than any other corporate karts I’ve driven.
To give you an idea of the Lakeside experience I thought combining a track guide with a kart review would be the best way to do this. So let’s start with turn one…
Turn one is a hugely important corner as getting that wrong will ruin the whole first half of your lap. Why? Well turns, two, three and four immediately and require a certain rhythm.
The approach is downhill and is flat, you must hit the inside kerb, but the track then rises very quickly which leads into a tight left hand turn two. So after going flat across the kerb as soon as you feel the rear tyre hit the ground you apply the brake, smoothly. Watching the session before lots of drivers were being sucked in by the turn two kerb and were turning in far too early, to nail turn one you must stay slightly to the right on the exit to open up the turn two entry.
Turn two is fairly straight forward in all honesty. Having opened the corner you’ll now be flat through turn two and exiting in the middle of the track will be perfect.
Good over kerbs
Turn three is where the new Pro Karts show off their skills in riding kerbs, within reason of course! The kerb on the inside looks threatening but close your eyes and put two wheels on it and you’ll be guided round the corner without even having to turn the wheel. Impressive stuff!
Now we go into turn four which is a left hand hairpin. This was a great place to push the kart’s front end grip and braking force. With the front end of the kart being very good you can really go in hard on this corner and keep the revs up. Have the wheel almost full lock before you even arrive at the apex and push that throttle down. It won’t go at first, but just stick with it and you’ll be rewarded on the exit. However, DO NOT use the kerbs on the exit. They look scary to look at and running them really slows you down.
Turn five was where I could test acceleration. It’s a short straight before you’re straight into another hairpin. Now the best way to take this is by using the brakes to turn the kart. Sounds weird, but if you leave your braking late the force you’ll put into the pedal will do most of the kart rotation for you meaning you can get straight on the throttle. The acceleration was okay out of here, but the exit is uphill which makes it seem slower. Later in the lap is where the speed in these karts become very impressive!
Turn five is the last time you need to brake before you hit Devil’s drop which I will come to later.
So following turn five we have a right hander which is very easily flat. The kerb on the inside is for use but just run the green part of it and be careful on the exit. That’s followed by a short shoot down to turn seven which is another flat out right hander. Don’t use the concrete on the inside, just the black stuff! However, do use the concrete on the exit of that corner to minimise steering input and maximise speed!
Now we start to drop down hill and really pick up some serious pace! You’ll then approach a flat out left hander (stay off kerbs) before rising back up hill which goes very quickly with the speed now being carried. There’s a small strip of concrete run off but don’t use that as it’ll pull you away from the turn in point for the menacing Devil’s drop.
The best corner in karting!
Devil’s Drop has to be one of the best corners I’ve driven in karting and I’ve driven all around Europe (without trying to show off). It’s a blind left hander which has a dramatic drop down hill. As you approach it you just stay flat and hold your breath. Use ALL of the kerb on the inside, the kart will be mid air for a split second before you land and are thrown into a tricky double right hander. It’s also the last so demands a good exit.
The last double right hander is really where the kart shows off it’s mid corner speed, but also it’s punishment to big mistakes.
All you have to think about here is the exit of the corner. Being a hero on the brakes will do you no favours. Stay wide and completely miss the first apex and after slowing the kart down just balance the throttle and ever so subtly drift the kart round and hit the white line on the second apex.
You’ll know if you’ve got it right as you’ll find yourself almost kissing the tyres on the exit. I tried taking both apex’s, missing the second one and as afore mentioned being a ‘hero’ on the brakes. None of them worked. That brings you back up to the start finish line.
The new karts at Lakeside were great fun to drive. As well as being novice friendly, for experienced racers like myself you get a lot of enjoyment out of them. The track is brilliant and I think mastering it will take me a few more visits.
So now you know how to drive it (roughly) and what to expect from the karts, why not head down and give them a go yourself!
Written by Chris McCarthy