I had a potentially significant level up over the course of last race weekend and I need to articulate it, throw it out there, and see what you folks think.
So here goes:
Over the course of the final race, my coach walked me through the evolution of the laps and helped me understand when I “came into” my driving. Long story short for the first 8-9 laps I’m hunting for balance and speed, lap 10 I find it and everything changes, gets tighter but more fluid, basically, go-time.
Up until recently, I have been driving point-to-point. Accelerate… decelerate. Think of the space between turns as being all about acceleration and the defining characteristic of the turn being the deceleration. Big, long braking. So in effect, my driving has been big waves crashing on a beach. I see a turn, go as fast as I can to it, then try to remove speed in big bites.
Bear in mind that under this model, every turn is an island. Nothing links together. Accelerate, decelerate, turn in, get back on gas, go. They are all steps that must be accomplished as you try to manage the forces being thrown at you. You are too busy trying to get the steps right that you forget that what is done in this corner affects the entry into the next corner. Basic stuff, but hard to process when you are learning how to pilot a kart at speed.
Sorta the reason I have been driving this way is because that’s what I thought you were supposed to do: Brake late and hard, be forceful. Etc.
That’s not really it at all. The Norberg analysis I did was to try to articulate what I think I’ve learned. And he’s got the skill set to illustrate it.
Over the course of the race, I started being less and less “wave-like” and more “constant throttle”. Meaning that rather than trying to build a wall of power that is then literally thrown into the turn (heavy braking), I instead started looking for reasons to feed throttle as constantly as possible and, importantly, use the brakes like a scapel. Sharp, fast braking to slice or peel speed off as opposed to heavy, chopping off of speed braking.
So imagine the entry to a turn… as you approach the turn, instead of preparing to go in hot and brake hard, instead keep the throttle going buzz buzz, quickly peel whatever speed off you need earlier than normal and get right back on throttle (even just a little peck) so that you are building throttle as early as possible.
You will be, if you judge the scalpel work correctly, able to effectively accelerate through everything. You will be on gas earlier and earlier. You will be getting faster launches that flow into the next turn and so on and so forth.
Norberg illustrates this beautifully. When I said you can’t tell where the throttle ends and the braking begins, this is what I meant. He is on boil from the get go because he doesn’t drive in a binary start/stop point-to-point way. He goes out, gets the revs up and pins them there, shaving off little bits as needed, while the almost constant throttle keeps his kart balanced, on edge, turning freely.
The side effect of driving this way is that, if you are constantly looking for excuses to feed the slightest bit of throttle in, you are going to find yourself filling in the “gaps” in your driving, the moments when normally you’d lift or be slow transitioning to brakes. In short, you will be much much faster as you will, as a byproduct of this, be on gas much sooner (you never really left). And because you have “quickened” your fluidity goes off the charts. As the true grip potential of the kart is revealed, everything starts to “fly” or “float”.
The other byproduct of this is balance. A loaded kart is a balanced kart. I used to think that, so long as I was either accelerating or braking, I was loaded up. I really wasn’t. Load isnt speed or G-forces. It’s how close to the limit of the tires and the chassis you get and keeping the kart right there. Heavy braking steals balance. Throttle settles the kart. More throttle, less brake.
Final and most impressive side effect. Throttle input while turning induces good stuff in terms of grip. It locks the kart down and in turns that you’d normally “scritch”, it just doesn’t.
In my case, the speed came on too late in the race to catch second. But I know what I’m looking for now and that dude is doomed.
Does this resonate with any of you or have I lost my mind? I am not sure I am correct here, I am hopeful though. Proof will be in next race. Post session data indicates theoretical best lap that was eye opening. (Sub 41 at etown. My best ever is 41.2.). It also revealed new absolute speed records (for me) both min speed and max speeds. I picked up 3-4 mph in multiple corners, also. I think this is a real change.