The art of driving a Max powered kart is always made to look easy by those who are really good at it. Much like any sport, the people at the top appear to apply the minimum of effort to achieve what looks to be impossible.
There is usually one common thread that helps to unravel the secret. They all, whatever their chosen sport, spend a lot of time doing it! It really is a case of practice makes perfect. Most top drivers will seldom admit to doing many perfect laps, every lap is a compromise in some way. Starting from the beginning therefore it is important that your Kart is in good condition and assuming that your initial level of knowledge is slight, it has to be a good idea to have your chassis professionally set up to ensure that it is all true and safe. A slightly bent chassis or misaligned steering can make any Kart really hard to drive but the less experienced will often assume that all is well and drive around an inherent problem. There is no need to make life unnecessarily difficult. Now that we know all the wheels are pointing in the right direction and that the brakes and steering are safe, the time has come to get out on track and start enjoying your Karting.
If you are really new to the sport, most clubs will have an onsite ARKS (Association of Racing Kart Schools) examiner. This guy maybe very busy, but his role is to make sure that as many newcomers as possible pass their test and start racing as a regular club member. This does not mean to say that the ARKS test is a walk in the park, but it does apply a set of guidelines which the driver needs to achieve before being allowed out in a race. The ARKS examiner is a person worth meeting, he will be sure to give good basic advice and help introduce you to others that have first-hand knowledge of your local circuit. If you are new to the sport or the circuit it is a good idea to get to the track early, get yourself ready and go for a track walk. Make sure with the officials that the track is open for you to walk round and if possible ask someone with local knowledge to show you the lines, braking points etc. Once you’ve been to the circuit, a walk round loses its value very quickly, you’ll subconsciously remember the circuit and will be on the pace after a couple of warm up laps.
When you go out onto the circuit keep some space around you and don’t get too close to others that may involve you in their accident. There is not much point in spoiling a potential new friendship by crashing into them. As you drive onto the track remember that the tyres will take at least a lap before they have any predictable grip. Please do not leave the grid with a flamboyant full throttle wheel-spin only to disappear into the bushes at the first corner. This happens at every club meeting every weekend of the year, just don’t let it be you! Having warmed yourself, your engine and your tyres, now is the time to start applying a bit more throttle and start enjoying Karting for what it is, probably the best form of motor sport in the world! Concentrate on being smooth with all the controls, squeeze the accelerator down and brake firmly but smoothly without locking the wheels. If the Kart is correctly set up it should slow in a straight line without snatching to one side or the other.
The best early advise is try to get your braking done in a straight line and only accelerate when the kart is well turned in to the corner. It could be said that acceleration should only begin past the apex, but in Karting, even at an early learning stage this is really too late. The whole idea of a Kart is that the chassis is the suspension and the live rear axle has to rely on the driver making best use of the extraordinary handling capabilities of a kart. The transition between braking and acceleration is a real balancing act and probably the most important element that defines a fast driver from an ordinary one. At first my advice is to take it easy and explore your own limitations. It is very likely that you will soon find that you are catching some others up as well as learning from those that overtake you. Wrap up warm, it’s still good fun in the winter!