Tag Archives: wet weather karting tips

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.

Mind & body ready to race

Stock-TrophyOver the last four years we have covered a great deal of varied information and subjects, so we thought it would be a good idea to do an “in a nutshell” article that summarizes everything on one page that has been put to you so far, along with a couple of other pointers before we expand on the subject of the mind in future issues.

The week leading up to a race

During this period it is very important to get enough sleep, if you have a physical training regime which you should have, it is important that you avoid overtraining, especially when you get to within a couple of days of competition, if you’re unsure about this then it is always a really good idea to visit a personal trainer and seek some advice and or get an appropriate training program set up, the younger the person the more careful you have to be about this and mostly in the case of children they should be using their own body weight as opposed to weights.

Food and hydration is another factor to take into account and was the subject of a recent article, remember what goes into the mind affects the body and what goes into the body affects the mind, you are one complete system, avoid junk and sugary foods and eat as healthily as possible and drink plenty of water.

During the week of a race you should be going over the racing lines of the venue you are racing at next, that is both dry and wet lines, this is England after all!, the idea is that you are refreshing your mind, hopefully you will have made a note of the lines the last time you were at the venue, if not then it might be a great idea to start to record the race lines on a layout of the track and keep a folder of any relevant information relating to the track.

When you have recalled the racing lines you will need to find a quiet place to sit undisturbed for 15 to 20 minutes and imagine you are in the kart driving the exact racing line you know to be the quickest from what you have been taught, feel every detail, see every detail, the breaking points, the apex’s, mentally rehearse a start, this particular part of your mental rehearsal can include the rolling up lap and you will want to program your mind in advance, I know that you won’t have knowledge of your grid position in any given heat or race etc, but the more that you practice starts in your mind the more the unconscious and nervous system of your body will know what to do in any given situation and the less nervous and anxious you are likely to be when you do come to the race itself.

If you’re unsure of lines or you are going to a new circuit then go on U-tube, even visit other competitors websites as they often and very kindly show off their best laps at a track and you will be able to study them and work out exactly what they are doing, you will also be able to spot their weak points as well, this can be a great short cut to learning and you can then use it with your own mental rehearsal.

Preparation and attention to details are paramount when it comes to racing, if you are your own mechanic or a dad that mechanics for his son or daughter then there would be nothing worse than arriving at a race having forgotten something, even as a driver making sure your kit is sorted, forgetting something can so easily send the emotions into a spin and hamper good logical thinking and destroy any sense of calm, the easiest way to overcome this is to prepare a check list and tick things off as they are done in kart preparation or kit prep, if it’s good enough for the F1 boys and the ground crew and pilots that fly you to your holiday destination then it’s good enough and a simple enough technique for you to employ as well, it could save you a lot of panic and problems especially if you forget something like your race license, and I’ve seen that happen a number of times in the paddock, it can be very unsettling.

One other thing to do prior to your race weekend and that is setting some goals for the outcome of your competition, remember that your goals should be set so that they are achievable, if you set them too high or the people around you set them to high then this will place immense pressure on you and as soon as the slightest thing goes wrong or a mistake made then you are headed for a massive slump in your performance, so keep your goals so that they are challenging and yet at the same time achievable.

Be positive, positive optimistic thinking and talking is also a huge part of your preparation and strong mindset, if the people around you are negative, unsupportive and critical without good reason and can back their thinking up then you either best educate them that what you need is consistent meaningful support and constructive assistance, if they cannot provide that then as best as possible you ought to be avoiding them, never be afraid to tell someone that they are upsetting you or confusing you, if they genuinely want you to succeed then they will more likely than not listen and take on board your helping them to help you.

Race Day

The start of the day should see you eating something that is beneficial, sometimes nerves can be heightened and food would be the last thing on your mind, you have to approach breakfast thinking that you have to be a friend to yourself, to help yourself, remember that your body needs fuel in order for the metabolism to work, to have your concentration and energy levels where they should be, avoiding eating even something small could hamper your day completely.

Walk the track, familiarity will help the nerves settle, it will remind you of the uniqueness of that track, make sure you walk the track with someone that knows what they are talking about and can talk you through the overtaking places, the starts and anything else that is important, never be afraid to ask questions, the ones that think they know it all are generally the ones who will crumple when they make a mistake.

When you know your heats you need to discuss and agree your plan for the race, then mentally rehearse it, continue this process through the day, discussing and making decisions and then rehearsing your start and race strategy. Make sure you sip water throughout the day, avoid overeating but eat little and often, be positive and optimistic and above all enjoy your racing as that alone will help you to be more persistent and concentrate for longer.

All of the above has been covered in previous issues of Karting magazine; back orders are available for you to read the topics more thoroughly.

If you have any questions or need any advice with this then you can contact me via the karting magazine or my website www.competitionmind.co.uk

Competition Mind: Fresh Start

Circuito Internacional Zuera

For many of you, the new year will be a fresh start with a new team or new class, or even changing mechanics and the way you run. For some it will be all of the above, many will have changed at the end of this season and will be busy testing and preparing for the major championships ahead.

From a mindset point of view this can be a great time to build upon what you already have if you have had a successful year while for others it can be a time of great challenge. The one common thing that everyone should have wherever possible is optimism as this will be a vastly superior mindset to compete with than that of pessimism where there is a negative view and opinion of everything and a negative outlook. If you are optimistic it will help you to find answers to problems whatever the situation you are in and help you to find the zone and achieve personal best results.

One of the many areas where competitors struggle when they are starting a new season off the back of a less than productive previous season is that of their expectations and goals. Many set their sights way too high and create anxiety within themselves because they know deep down that there is a high possibility of failure and then, when the first less than perfect result happens, they plunge into despair and their performances become erratic leading eventually to a constant negative outlook for future performances.

The antidote for this is to have some realistic and honest expectations then set some sensible goals for the results that you want to achieve which are also at the same time slightly challenging. This should only be done for the first race weekend and then you can assess your results at the end of the weekend. Provided that nothing mechanically has occurred that has hindered your results, the kart set-up has been either spot on or near the mark, and you have had a race weekend which only your own personal performance has been responsible for the results, then you can determine if you have met your own personal expectations and reached your goals. If you have, then fantastic, but you will have to raise them by a couple of places for the next race weekend to maintain the motivation.

If you failed to meet your expectations and reach your goals and feel that you did your best at the time, then you need to lower your expectations and goals for the next race weekend and start building your results where you can meet your expectations and reach your goals because that way you avoid in your mind measuring future performances negatively. This should certainly be the case when you are competing in a championship or race where the vast majority of the competitors are unknown to you because you will still be learning where your current level of performance might be in comparison to those that you are competing against.

The trouble is that when you know most of the competitors in your class and have competed against them before, the general tendency is to assume that the same people that you beat last year you will beat again this next year, also, and more importantly, that the people that beat you last year will likely beat you again. Some competitors become completely transfixed with a personal battle against a particular individual rather than focus on their own personal performance. What this does is to limit your results unless you are consistently in the top three of course where this becomes a different matter. If you get fixated with beating or battling with one particular competitor their performance can affect your own and, if they are having a slow day, it can actually slow you down too by getting you into a back and forth battle making you vulnerable to being caught and overtaken by the drivers behind you. You are far better off concentrating on working on your own lap times, race craft and personal best performance.

Another thing to factor into the equation before deciding on your expectations and goals is that of the track you are racing at. Have you mastered the track? Have you gathered enough information to know how to drive it correctly? What have been your previous results at this track? If you have had some good results and experiences at the track previously then the chances are that you will feel more confident going there and this will in itself help you to have a better, much more focused performance. Remembering them and recalling your achievements will also assist you in being more relaxed and focused. If you have had negative experiences there previously you have to put them to one side and avoid thinking about them altogether as recalling them will only have a negative impact on your performance.

The other main contributory factor that I often come across when working with drivers is that of weather conditions and how they affect the grip levels with that having a knock-on effect with their confidence. The simple antidote to this is actual practice. Practising and gaining good advice and tuition about driving in differing grip levels and pounding out as many quality laps as possible is the best antidote for this problem.

Part of the way that the mind works is by linking and associating one thing with another, we make connections all the time with everything going on around us. In one of my earlier articles I described how we learn conditioned responses by using the example of traffic lights and how when you are driving towards a set and they are turning red that we don’t have to apply any thought whatsoever to slowing the car down to a stop because we have done it enough times that programs (associations to an outside stimulus create in us automated physical responses and thought patterns) become ingrained through repetition, the same as using a knife and fork, walking, catching a ball and so on with all of our conditioned responses.

The same can be true of ways of thinking about elements of racing. What we are talking about here are the many and varied negative thought patterns that drivers develop over periods of time and with enough repeat events having happened for the mind to reach a negative conclusion. For example, a rivalry where one driver is continually beaten by another, the one losing to the same person over a few rounds can easily develop the negative thought pattern that the other driver is better. Even though this may well be true, the fact is that if we believe that someone is better than us at something then generally speaking when we have to compete against them again in the future we can easily make a decision before even getting to the grid that because the other driver has beaten us so many times that this could lead us to accept defeat to them before we even race them. This is also the case with venues or competitions where there may be several references of negative outcomes for whatever reasons and these can lead to automated negative beliefs.

So before the new season really begins, practise thinking about the positive references and rejecting the negatives, practise concentrating on what you are doing rather than what anyone else is doing on the track, set some realistic expectations and goals and take each event as it comes. A fresh start with fresh thinking and more enjoyment. Have a great 2013.

If you have any questions or need any advice you can contact me via Karting magazine or email neil@neildrew.netplan.co.uk

Tips: Racing in the wet

Ginetta Super One MSA SeriesUNLESS you’re on an indoor track with sprinklers, wet racing means venturing outdoors, and more often than not this could mean racing in the rain on slick tyres! Racing on wet tyres is not every driver’s idea of fun to start with, so to do so when on slicks is an art in itself.

Unless as a driver you are worrying about kart set-up, the main issue with racing in the wet is vision… as in the substantial lack of! Imagine wiper blades failing in pouring rain whilst travelling at 70mph on the motorway and that is what looking through the helmet visor is like. And rain on the outside of the visor, where sometimes a flick of a gloved finger can provide some brief respite, can be matched by condensation on the inside, which cannot be cleared quite so readily.

Some years ago I took part in an endurance race in the most torrential rain imaginable. At one stage I was behind another team. We were travelling flat out down the back straight, and all I could see was a blurred number plate and two plumes of spray coming from the rear wheels. I could not even see the driver. I knew there was a left-hand corner coming up, which was followed by a series of ‘esses’, so I decided when the two plumes moved left I would go with them. That worked well, but the ‘esses’ did not. The driver in front hit the first kerb and somersaulted over the tyres. Because I was tracking his kart I hit the same kerb. Fortunately I did not turn the kart on my head like my unfortunate rival, except I then spent the next 50 yards fighting a magnificent tank-slapper, raised blood-pressure and a frantically beating heart!

I mention this only to help any potential wet-weather competitor to appreciate that wet weather racing is much harder than racing in the dry. And then when it gets dark in an endurance event, well…

The only safe place to be in the wet is either watching from the sidelines, or by striving to be at the front, which is fine until you catch the tail-enders. When that happens then you need to be quick, and decisive, and take no prisoners, because failing which you could be stuck behind a slower competitor for more laps than is recommended.

When anyone ever asks me about racing in the rain, my first thought is always of the rearward facing camera on Martin Brundle’s F1 car back in the 1980’s, and that eerie image of the late, great Ayrton Senna looming through the spray before slamming into the back of Brundle’s car.

Wet weather karting tips:

  • Make sure your visor is clean inside and out. Furniture polish on the outside can dissipate the water with a flick of the head. Washing up liquid ‘polished’ on the inside of the visor can often help to keep misting to an acceptable level.
  • Ideally wear a waterproof suit over your racesuit. More drivers are starting to use clear wetsuits, so that their nicely coloured and badged racesuit remains visible.
  • Change into clean, dry clothing between stints. A lack of comfort destroys concentration, and once that fades so do lap times.

 

Wet-weather racing is an art form that takes courage… and maybe even a little bit of lunacy for wanting to do it in the first place.

Extremely wet kart drifting!

There’s a wet race and then there’s this race. Possibly the worst conditions I’ve ever seen and to make matters worse (or better, if drifting is your thing), the kart is a fierce KZ2, ready to spin up with just a dab of throttle.

In these conditions, not even wets really cut it. The driving is superb, a real masterclass in keeping it smooth and feeling your way.

Check out the video, it’s epic!

The TKM Column

6554 TKM strip advert cmyk

By Sidney Sprocket

It’s cold and wet outside – just the type of weather I used to love when I was pedalling a TKM kart. Why?

Well it was not because I am a weather masochist, but because much though it was horrible to ensure such conditions, it was the time when I was most competitive.

Being of a normal size as compared to a jockey size, I was always at a disadvantage because I was perpetually overweight on the class regs. And believe me being over a class minimum weight means a lot more than just losing out on acceleration.

Having done all my learning in cars where the odd few kilos one way or another makes little difference, in karts I suddenly realised that even 4 kilos could have a very significant effect on the stopwatch. And more than that being tall also made a considerable difference.

Since then the situation has been made a lot fairer for “normal” size drivers with revised weight limits. And TKM has been at the forefront with variable weight/power bands to equalise performance. But even so having a good understanding of the effects weight can have is very important to understand, whatever size you are.

Let’s start with height. Simple fact; the taller you are then the more you will stick out into the air creating drag in a straight line. Karts don’t go that quickly but believe me even at 60mph a tall driver sitting bolt upright will create a definite human air brake.

Short of chopping off your legs there is a not a huge amount to change the fundamentals. If you can get the driving seat laid back as much as possible and make sure you curl up as small as possible on the straights.

But also look at the positive side. More height gives a higher centre of gravity and that can be translated into greater grip. It also makes it easier to get the inside wheel off the ground. You’ll probably need the wheels out further than someone shorter to find the right balance point.

And in the wet all the plusses go to those who are taller. Greater roll effect on corners gives you an instant advantage without even having to move the seat. It’s the time to go for gold!

Moving to weight, the situation is much more complicated. In a straight line it is a simple mathematical equation which says you will be slower accelerating. Simple fact that.

Thereafter things get complicated. For example when it comes to braking the greater weight of man and machine will in theory mean it takes longer to stop. But not always true because with only rear wheel brakes, if grip is at a premium then the greater weight on the rear tyres can actually help you stop quicker and hence counteract each other.

When it comes to corners again there is a complicated mix of plusses and minuses. Greater weight will help warm up tyres quicker and can therefore mean more grip. But, it requires more effort to keep the kart on line as the g-force of cornering kicks in. And once again come wet and cold conditions then some extra weight can very definitely be an advantage.

Greater weight will help warm up tyres quicker and can therefore mean more grip. But, it requires more effort to keep the kart on line as the g-force of cornering kicks in.

So in setting up a kart you need to take all of these things into consideration. Smaller lighter drivers will need raising (seat upwards) when it is cold and wet. They will run with a narrower width to the setting of the wheels. They’ll love the dry but maybe struggle in the wet.

Conversely taller heavier drivers need to lose every extra fraction of weight they can from the kart, probably run wider track settings and will love it when it rains. Oh and add to that tyres pressures. As a generality lower for bigger drivers.

And then of course comes the question of driving style. It doesn’t matter what type of tyre you have or the class you are in, every tyre has it likes and dislikes.

The latest new generation green Maxxis tyres have a fantastic ability to remain at a very high level of equal performance for an unbelievably long length of time. Like most new tyres they will give their best by being given an initial few laps bedding in at moderate pace followed by 10 minutes to cool, off the track.

They run at far lower pressures than the old spec tyres – typically around 10psi. And they work best when used with minimal steering input. In other words not being thrown into corners sideways. Again for heavier drivers that means don’t abuse the tyres because you will be in danger of overheating them and missing out on their maximum performance. Keep it nice and tidy.

The latter is especially true on the TKM 4-stroke karts where the kart itself has a greater weight because of the engine cooling system etc. On the old red label tyres, although they were stickier once hot, they took several laps to get working so overall they were actually slower than the new tyres. They also gave rather an on/off type of grip.

The new green label tyres start working almost immediately and give a more rounded type of performance which most have welcomed. With the extra weight of the 4-strokes the tyres perform best for drivers who understand the difference between driving smoothly and driving in an aggressive way. Smooth and easy is always best.

Beautiful rain

 KF3 driver Sam Webster with various bits of improvised protection Chris Walker

KF3 driver Sam Webster with various bits of improvised protection
Chris Walker

By Jerry Thurston

It’s a matter of record that the late, great Ayrton Senna lived near a kart track in his early days. If it was raining, rather than rolling over and going back to sleep he’d pack his kit and head off to the track to practice.

That sort of attitude is one of the qualities that marked him out as one of the greatest drivers of the 20th century. Embracing and excelling in wet races rather than merely tolerating them is the difference between a champion and the rest.

Keeping dry
Before we even think about what we might do to the kart let’s make sure that the driver is protected from the elements, get them a good quality wet-suit and some overshoes, not getting wet isn’t for wimps. A warm and dry driver is a happy driver and a happy driver is a fast driver.

Leave the seat stays fitted but not attached to the seat, this allows you to tape them up which provides a shield for the brake.

Rig up some guards to prevent water from getting into the air-box, water vapour makes two-strokes go faster. However, water-droplets make the engine internals rusty…. Nasty.

Protecting the ignition is vital; don’t rely on a squirt of water dispersant spray, find a way of keeping as much water away from the ignition as possible. A Heath Robinson contraption might look silly but when your engine is running and the others have stopped who’s laughing?

Unshielded bearings (rear axle etc) hate the wet, alas it is also probable that you won’t be able to keep them dry, fully expect that they’ll need to be replaced after a wet meeting.

Gearing
Mid corner speeds will be lower so gearing will need to be changed to compensate, the usual starting point being a couple of teeth on the rear sprocket compared to the dry. Before you choose, measure the circumference of your wet tyres and compare them to your slicks. If they are bigger or smaller you will need to calculate what gearing equates to the same as you ran on slicks before adding your chosen number of teeth for the wet. Give or take a bit, plus 15mm on the wet tyre’s circumference compared to the slick equals one tooth on the rear sprocket, minus 15mm one tooth off.

Engine characteristics
If you are lucky enough to have either a choice of engines or the ability to tweak the power characteristics of the motor you use consider using a set up that is soft at lower revs. Unless the driver has god-like throttle control a motor that comes on hard mid-corner is asking for trouble. Far better to have an engine that gives its all once the kart is pointing in a straight line and really starting to roll.

Chassis
Wet racing demands quite considerable changes to kart set up. Where a basic set up for the dry could be termed as ‘wide and tight’, in the wet the opposite applies, ‘narrower and loose’ or even ‘floppy’ could be used to describe the chassis. It’s logical really, on a dry track on hot day there can be almost too much grip so you run the kart full stiff with all the seat stays securely fastened in and as wide as it can be without breaking the rules. For the wet you want it to lift the rear wheel easily and have the chassis to flex sufficiently to exploit every nuance of the track surface.

What to do
Increase caster setting to maximum, this increases the lift and drop of the front wheels

Increase the front track as far as sensibly possible, at this point you might reasonably ask why you are increasing the front track when narrowing the rear-end gives the rear tyres more ‘bite’, surely the same applies? As the caster can only be set within the limits defined by the chassis design, the front track is therefore increased to further increase the lift and drop of the front wheels when using the steering. Moving the wheel further away from its pivot point causes it to move up and down further as it goes through the steering arc.

Increase Ackermann setting to maximum by mounting the track rods on the outer holes of the ‘spade’ on the steering column and/or the inner holes where the track rods bolt to the stub axles.

Slacken side pod mountings to allow the chassis to flex fully.

Depending upon the Kart you might like to decrease the rear track so that the centre of the rear tyre is in-line with the centre of the front tyre, note the narrower you go the more potential for understeer there is.

Seat
Raise the seat a couple of centimetres and remove seat stays, although this raises the centre of gravity that’s OK, we are going to use the driver’s mass to transfer the maximum amount of weight across the chassis to the outside rear tyre.

Tyres
Tyre pressure are an endlessly discussed subject, some like to pump their wet tyres up other prefer to drop the pressures. I’m a great believer that there is an optimum pressure which gives the best ‘footprint’ while not compromising sidewall stiffness; once this is found I’d rather adjust something else. Starting point… Try 12psi front, 14psi rear.

Handling in the wet… The tech stuff
It’s all about weight transfer, in the dry this happens naturally, there is enough grip from warm slicks for centrifugal force acting on the drivers body and through the seat to lift the inside rear wheel of the kart just clear of the track surface. In the wet there isn’t enough grip to do this, as the centrifugal force increases the outside rear wheel rather than gripping merely slides away.

What is needed is an artificial means of getting the inside rear wheel up to get that all important outside rear wheels really biting into the tarmac. This artificial help is provided by a combination of caster and Ackermann angle. It’s the caster that does most of the work, put the kart on its stand and watch as the steering is turned. What you will see is, as the lock is applied the inside front wheel swings back and down while the outside front wheel swings forward and up.

What you are doing by applying full lock is lowering the outside and jacking the inside front of the kart. Unless the chassis is made of spaghetti something has to happen, and it does… obediently the inside rear wheel lifts clear of the track. All the rear weight of the kart is now on the outside tyre so it’s got the maximum grip.

If the caster does all the jacking work why did I mention the Ackermann angle?

Ackermann is the second part of the equation, the Ackermann setting allows the inside front wheel to pivot far further than its sister, in extreme cases almost back to the chassis rail. This inside front wheels isn’t doing much to turn the Kart in the conventional manner; instead it is scrubbing the tarmac acting like an extra brake reducing the speed and importantly because it is on the inside it is also helping to pull the nose of the kart into the turn.

(TIP… Even in the dry increased Ackermann can help turn in on very twisty tracks but the increased scrub from this robs speed through the corners on faster circuits.)

Driving in the wet
Racing a car in the wet is all about being delicate but karts are different, they need a surprisingly aggressive technique to get the best out of them.

Before corner entry some suggest stamping on the brake to get the rear tyres to cut through the surface water. While this technique might work for some drivers I question its efficacy to some extent, using the brakes to their best in the wet or dry is about finding the maximum amount of stop without locking up and spinning. Merely stamping on the brakes isn’t a very controlled method of doing this, I’d suggest using the brakes firmly and confidently, but also in a manner that gives the driver the best feel for the transition between maximum retardation and locked up.

As soon as the brakes come off, the driver smoothly and quickly applies full lock in the direction that they want to go. To start with the Kart will want none of this and although the inside rear wheel will (should) have lifted the Kart will understeer and carry straight on. How far the Kart will understeer will depend upon how fast they are going, at slower speeds the kart will respond relatively quickly, turn in at very high speed and the kart will plough on for what feels like hours. As soon as the kart turns in it is time to reduce the cornering lock to the normal amount for that bend and drive through it in a more or less normal manner before opening the taps to rocket down the straight. How soon you can get the power back on is usually dependent upon the amount you have available. No matter how well the chassis is set-up Karts with big power will spin the rear tyres as the throttle goes on. In this case less is nearly always more. Delicate throttle control allowing the rear tyres to hook up rather than spinning away will get the kart down the straight far faster.

Wet line
As a track rubbers-up during a dry meeting it gets gripper, hot slick against rubber smeared tarmac it’s like gluing the tyre to the track. Rain reverses this; the previously friendly rubber covered line is now the enemy as it becomes treacherously slippery. Most often running slightly wide through the corners will get that all important outside rear wheel onto a less rubbered and hence gripper surface. It’s a fine line between running wide enough to find the grip and leaving the door wide open and allowing another competitor to dive through on the inside. However, having said this it is a brave driver that tries to nip through on the inside on a wet, well rubbered track.

Body language
Experiment with having the driver throw their weight forward to help with the initial turn in, then once the kart has entered the turn, leaning back and out to help with the drive around the bend.

Putting it together:
Absolute consistency is needed for a blistering wet lap. Where the driver’s skill is tested is in the transitions between the various phases of the corner. Each of the definite actions that the driver performs when cornering needs to flow seamlessly into the next. Braking to initial turn in… Reducing the lock to drive through the corner… Finally, getting the power on as early as they can while being as smooth as possible. I once heard it put like this: The driver needs to be a coal miner going into the corner and a ballet dancer coming out. The only way to get this right every time is to practice, practice, and practice.

The driver needs to be a coal miner going into the corner and a ballet dancer coming out.