A Beginner’s Guide to Karting: 11 Dos and Don’ts to Remember
Karting is one of the most thrilling sports ever invented. The best part is that it’s safe and easy enough to learn that even children can get into the sport at a young age.
But before becoming true blue kart racers, they must first learn the basics of go-kart driving. They must also study the techniques needed to not only to win races but also to stay safe on the track.
If you’re planning to try karting in Abu Dhabi with your kids, you must ensure that everyone understands the importance of proper preparation. For that, you can use the following dos and don’ts so you and your children can have a safer and more enjoyable time.
- Study the track and other drivers first.
As much as possible, arrive at the karting track early so you can familiarize yourself with the track. This also allows you to watch and study other drivers.
Look for a place where you can get the best view of the entire circuit. The spot should give you a good vantage point of the whole track, not just one corner.
Find a driver you can observe if you’re not the first to drive. As much as possible, choose someone who is leading the race or has the fastest lap time in the circuit.
Of course, if you’re driving before everyone else, watching videos of another go-kart driver on the track you’re racing on is a good enough alternative. There are bound to be some clips available online.
While observing other drivers or studying the course, take note of the following points:
- The Racing Line: Notice the line the drivers follow. Do they turn wide at a specific corner only to make a tight one at another? Or perhaps they take more curbs in one spot compared to the next? Answer these questions, and you’ll be able to see an imaginary line that other go-kart drivers follow.
- Braking Points: As the name suggests, these are the parts of the track where drivers usually hit the brakes. You’ll notice this easily, so be sure to remember them well. They may prove useful when it’s your turn to drive.
- Use all parts of the track.
Curbs and white lines define go-kart tracks. You can use these as much as the road to drive faster and safer.
In fact, go-kart drivers should take advantage of these areas as much as possible, especially when approaching a turn.
The wider you go, the easier it is to arrive at the apex. This will allow you to minimize the length of turn you need to navigate each corner on the track.
- Keep your eyes peeled ahead.
Driving so close to the ground makes everything seem twice as fast. This could lead to sensory overload, especially if it’s your first time driving a go-kart.
To avoid this, focus your attention a few meters on the front. When you look farther ahead, you can feel everything slowing down since your mind has more time to predict and process what will happen next.
As a rule of thumb, focus one stage ahead of your location. In other words, look at the apex when hitting the brakes, the exit when you’re at the apex, and the next corner when you’re at the exit. This way, you can react appropriately and more quickly.
- Overtake with care.
When you see an opportunity to overtake, there’s a golden rule you should remember:
You can easily pass if you’re close enough to touch the kart in the front.
This rule will give you the confidence to overtake if given the chance. It also helps you pass other vehicles safely, especially when you’re already familiar with the best places to take this step (e.g., the heavy braking zones).
- Use one pedal at a time.
Never press both pedals simultaneously to avoid spinning out and losing control of your kart. Keep your foot on one pedal at a time, and you should do just fine.
- Move your hands on the wheel too much.
Compared to cars, go-karts have significantly more sensitive steering. To ensure precise control over the vehicle, always keep your hands in the quarter-to-three position while driving. This can also help you react faster to slides and other situations on the track.
- Brake too softly.
Brakes on go-karts stop the rear wheels only. This means you can’t do the same soft brakes to slow down as you usually would on a full-sized car.
In fact, the advisable braking method would be the exact opposite of what you do on the road: step on the brakes hard initially until they almost lock, then gradually release as you get closer to the apex.
- Turn too early.
Turning too early is one of the most common rookie mistakes in go-kart driving.
To avoid this, slow down before a turn and aim for a later apex. Do this whenever you think you’re sliding wide or losing speed out of the corners, so you can accelerate without running wide once you reach the exit.
- Steer too aggressively.
As mentioned earlier, the steering mechanism of go-karts is much more sensitive than a car.
Steering too aggressively or turning the wheel too sharply can cause the front of the vehicle to slide (also known as under-steer). This is what happens when you feel the kart wanting to go in a straight line.
Instead, turn the wheel gradually and smoothly, like holding a cup of water you don’t want to spill. This will keep the kart from getting shocked by the sudden movement, easing into the next step you intend to take.
- Lean too much when turning.
Avoid leaning too much towards the apex since it puts more weight on the inside wheels. This can make it more difficult to straighten up the kart after a turn.
- Try to get out of the way.
Being on a kart circuit for the first time can be daunting for new drivers, especially with others zipping past at impossibly high speeds.
To avoid feeling overwhelmed by this, there’s one thing you need to remember: Those people have been go-kart driving a lot longer than you, which means you can be as good (or even better) with practice.
At this point, the best thing for you to do is concentrate on your own driving rather than try to get out of their way. This will also make you more predictable, letting the more experienced drivers pass you on the track.
Plus, focusing on your own driving lets you think more about where you’re losing time and improves your go-kart driving faster while avoiding collisions.
Enjoy Karting Safely
Driving a go-kart is an exciting activity that you and your children can enjoy together.
Just remember to prioritize safety by keeping these dos and don’ts in mind while you learn the ropes of the sport.
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