Critique my race


(Daniel Gauci) #1

Last weekend I joined a race at our local track, and I would appreciate it if I could get some feedback on where I can improve. While I got off to a good start, another driver who started from behind me kept gaining on me on every lap, until he eventually got past me. This is something that I have been struggling with on every race, where half-way throughout the race I start finding it hard to concentrate, while other drivers seem to get even faster. If anyone has any tips that has helped them deal with this issue in the past, it would be much appreciated!

For reference, I am driving a 2007 CRG Road Rebel, with a 2005 Rotax Max FR125 on Mojo D5 tires. Most of the other karts in the video are running Rotax Max Evo engines on newer chassis, however my kart seems to hold up well enough for it’s age.

Thanks in advance!


(James McMahon) #2

Welcome @modstorm!

Don’t forget to update the name on your profile with your First and Last name please.


(Warren Chamberlain) #3

Hi Daniel,

Overall that was a nice drive!

First, it would be really helpful if you could think about and answer a few questions:

  1. Describe what concentration means to you… or describe what you consider good concentration and bad concentration.

  2. When you say you are struggling with concentration every race, is the struggle the same in each race?

  3. How exactly do you feel that your concentration issue impacts your driving/performance? Or put another way, what elements of your diving suffer most when your concentration is faltering?

  4. Is there any chance physical conditioning could be a contributing factor?

  5. Has your kart been performing the same throughout the races, or is the balance dropping off in the later stages?

Watching your video, I thought you were doing great (smooth and consistent) as you worked your way to the front, and for several laps out front. However, then it seemed like you started looking back quite a bit. Once you started looking back, I could almost feel the tension building in your driving. You started turning in a little earlier for some of the sharper turns at first, which impacted your ability to carry speed through and out of the turn. It seemed like you felt this and tried to compensate by driving harder into some of the faster turns which caused you to miss apexes slightly and again hurt your exit speed. The lap you got passed, you made both of these mistakes in the two turn preceding your competitor getting a run on you and making the pass.

In short, it looked like you manufactured the pressure that caused you to take a rhythm that was working very well and abandon it in the search for more speed. There is nothing wrong with looking for more speed, but the approach should be based on a strategy of logical incremental improvement… it should not be reactive of desperate in nature. Also, if you try something and it doesn’t work, you should go back to your established rhythm before trying another improvement. Remember that if someone is catching you, it may not be because of your driving, it could be because of their driving, or their kart (e.g. setup to perform better at the end of the race).

One other interesting thing from the video was the difference in style between you and #77. It looks like you tend to get the kart turned quickly at the apex, and drive a relatively straight trajectory out of the turns… which seemed to work well for you. However, #77 seemed to drive a much rounder ‘line’, especially on corner exits. I’m not saying one style is better than the other, and I don’t know whether that made any difference, but it seemed like you were struggling with front grip some places, and I couldn’t help wondering if he had been asking less of his front tires throughout the race, possibly giving him more performance at the end. Again, that’s all speculation, but worth thinking about.

Anyway, back to concentration. You cannot drive well if you are not in the present moment, and you cannot be in the present moment if your mental focus is on the guy catching you, or the result you want, or the position you might lose. So the easiest way to get/stay in the here and now is to focus on your performance. If you still find your mind wandering, give it a job… make it responsible for evaluating each turn and giving a number (1-5) to rank your performance, or whatever… the job is not important DOING A job to get back in the hear and now is important.

There is an article on concentration here that you may or may not find helpful.

Good Luck!


(Daniel Gauci) #4

Thanks a lot, that’s extremely helpful!

With regards to the questions that you asked:

  1. For me good concentration is focusing on hitting my marks and constantly trying to improve the lap times, or even better than that, being in the flow as described by several F1 drivers. Bad concentration, such as what I experience, is being distracted by trivial things that are not crucial at all for the race such as what will happen after the race, concentrating on the very fact that I’m in first place, thinking about mistakes that I have already made and there is nothing I can do about.

  2. Most of the times it’s the same, depending on the events of that race.

  3. I think consistency takes the biggest hit, since I end up overshooting corners and missing apexes.

  4. This was an issue when I started karting (a bit more than a year ago), however since then I started training much harder at the gym, which helped a lot. At this point, I no longer feel that it is an issue since I come out of a relatively long karting session without feeling tired/sore.

  5. Recently my kart started dropping off half way past the race. The main issue is that it seems to struggle (bogging) when coming out of the corners. However I think I nailed the issue down to having too much grip. At the moment, my class has no restrictions when it comes to tires, so I used to drive on Bridgestone YLR as it was the grippiest tire I could source locally. However I just made the switch to Mojo D5 (this video was actually the first time driving on them), and it seems to have considerable freed up my kart. Most of the other karts also have a 30mm chassis, whereas mine is 32mm, which could also be causing me to have too much grip.

Unfortunately, due to the long straights, it is quite difficult to lower the kart’s gearing even more than it already is (11/82).

Once again, thanks again for all your help!


(Matthijs Hofman) #5

What a great reply Warren. The main reason I keep visiting this site (although I don’t own a kart anymore) is the effort people put in to help others moving forward. Great attitude by many here.


(Warren Chamberlain) #6

Thanks for the answers Daniel!

External sources can offer ideas and guidance, but really it’s up to you to get to the root of the issue. That’s why I asked you to think about the questions. You need to play detective and see if there are any common ‘triggers’ that cause the change (degradation) in your concentration. You’ve already identified one big trigger, which appears to be the ½ way point in the race, so you can start there by asking yourself questions like:

Does the same thing happen ½ way through a practice session? How about in qualifying sessions?

If the answer is no to both, then perhaps that having too much of a ‘results’ oriented instead of performance oriented approach could be impacting you concentration/performance.

If the answer is no to practice, but yes (or sometimes) to qualifying, then maybe that points to a link between how/where you perceived/assign importance to things. Maybe mentally ratcheting up the importance (or consequences) creates a level of mental tension that interferes with relaxed concentration.

If the answer is yes to both, then perhaps the concentration method you use mentally fatigues you too much to maintain it throughout a session. In that case the article linked in my first post might help with that.

Another line of questioning might be to think about if there is any relationship between your answers to questions #3 and #5 and your concentration drop.

For example, perhaps the kart’s actual performance drop off is drawing your attention away from concentration on your driving, which is causing the issues described in answer #3.

Or, perhaps worrying about the impending performance drop off at ½ way draws your attention away from concentration on your driving, which is causing the issues described in answer #3, which exacerbates issue described in answer #5.

Or, perhaps knowing #5 might happen, you push hard during the first part of the race to get away, and actually end up creating #5, which causes #3.

I’m not saying any of above scenarios are necessarily the issue, especially based on your answer to question #1, but thinking is free, and when you think about, and really analyze, a situation/problem from as many different angles as you can (even if they don’t seem ‘right’ on the surface), then you create a very dense matrix of understanding of both the issue and yourself, which you can use to solve future issues.

Anyway, you get the idea… dig around in your head and see what you find.:wink:

I found your answer to question #1 very interesting because it sounds more like you perceive your mind as just wandering aimlessly instead of worrying about things that can build tension and stress. I felt that I saw at least an element of pressure/tension/stress in your body and driving. However, I am just an outside observer. However, I definitely recommend that you dig around in your feelings/experience to see if tension and stress is impacting your driving, and if so, work to discover its origins.

BTW, when I said in my earlier post that you have to be ‘in the present moment’ that was kind of a simplified description…. let me explain:

When I drive, it’s almost like there are three entities in my head:

The ‘driver’, which is the part of me that is actually doing the driving (operating the controls using pre-programmed input patterns and/or performing instinctive adjustments to keep the kart in balance and on the track). I equate the ‘driver’ to my intuition/instinct.

The ‘navigator’, which is the part of me that provides the structure needed to organize the whole driving process by providing intuition with reference marks, timing, track condition info., etc. When that information is linked together sequentially, it creates the timing or rhythm track upon which intuition/instinct drives. I equate the ‘navigator’ to intellect.

The ‘shape shifter’, which can be: the manager, the micro-manager, a neutral observer, a cheer leader, a coach, an engineer, a critic, a self doubter, a doom predictor, an obsessor, an excuse maker, an ego protector, an ego assassin, etc. I equate the ‘shape shifter’ to the ‘self’ or ‘mind’.

That said, the more detailed explanation of ‘present moment’ for me is that the ‘driver’ must be left alone to perform in the present moment because his precisely timed actions get you around the track. The ‘navigator’ must be left alone to perform just ahead of the present moment because he must identify where/when the ‘driver’ will act.

The ‘mind’ on the other hand can arbitrarily take on many roles, and to accomplish a role, it can keep you in the present or drag your attention into to the past or into the future. For example, when acting as the manager or as a coach, it would be in the present. When acting as a critic, your mind could draw your attention back to a mistake, or when acting as doom predictor, it can drag your attention into the future to ‘experience’ any number of imagined ‘bad’ outcomes. However, it is also entirely possible to have the ‘driver’ and ‘navigator’ taking care of business while the ‘mind’ is off doing other (non-negative) stuff, for example; daydreaming when driving for a long time on the freeway.

The important point is that the unsupervised mind can run rampant and really screw things up. But, the mind can be influenced and trained through force of will, just like muscles can with exercise. That is why in my first post I recommended giving it a job. Another thing you can do it actively train your mind for racing. There is information about imagery training here (if you choose to do it I strongly recommend using a stopwatch), and there is information about dynamic imagery training here.


(Warren Chamberlain) #7

Thanks for the kind words Matthijs; this is a great forum!


(Daniel Gauci) #8

Once again, thanks for your very detailed reply! During the last weekend, I had another race which coincidentally ended up in the exact same conditions. I started from 3rd place and was first after the first lap. I managed to hold first place until the end of the race, at which point the same driver that had passed me in the previous race managed to pass me once again.

However, this time I felt that I managed the situation (seeing the driver closing up on me) much more calmly, as per your advice, and the main reason for him getting by was due to him having a better pace, as well as me dropping my guard and not defending so well.

Here’s some footage from this race:

Next weekend will be the first officially held race at this track, so I’ll try my best to improve on these points!


(Warren Chamberlain) #9

Hey Daniel, you’re welcome; I’m happy to help.

That was yet another good race; great job avoiding all of the drama at the beginning, and using it to your advantage.

I agree with your assessment; you did look much calmer out front, which is a great stride forward. However, there may still be a little work to do. On the lap you got passed, it looks like you got a not-great exit out of turn 3? (the tightest right hander), and then it looked like you felt that and tried to compensate by carrying more speed than usual into T4? (the big right hander), which caused you to miss the apex and impacted your drive out, which gave #77 the opportunity to get by. That may not be what happened, but that’s what it looked like.

If that was the case, then when you make a mistake, you should add to your repertoire an almost automatic ‘defensive’ approach for a turn or two so you can preserve your position while you take a deep breath or two and hook back into the rhythm of the track.

I would also recommend really going through your data to look for changes (trends) in your driving. For example look for stuff like:

  • How consistent are your lap times & do they drop off as the race goes on
  • What happens to your lap times after you get passed (if they improve then there is still probably some tension creeping into your driving when you are out front)
  • What are your most common mistakes
  • What are your most costly mistakes
  • When you make a mistake, what do you tend to do (for example, try to make up for the mistake in the next corner, or dial it back a notch and get refocused, or something else.)
  • Also, look closely at the relationship between the max g-loads you are seeing in turns and the way your speed builds on the following straight. You don’t necessarily have to be the fastest guy ‘mid-corner’, you need to orient yourself mid-corner so you can build speed down the next straight.

Anyway, you’re making great progress! Keep up the hard work and good luck next weekend.:+1: