Experimenting with Driving Variables

Hello,
I would like to improve my pace and/or consistency by experimenting with the variables that involve me driving on the track (line, braking, body movement). What things would be important for me to try and how would you go about it? I also want to open the conversation up to criticism of my driving as well as anything else that seems off handling wise or other and I will link a video below. Anything and everything is on the table for criticism and is very appreciated.

Some background info: I race primarily club races at TCKC. My kart is a 2015ish Kosmic and I run senior LO206. I am 6’4" and 190lbs. From the ages of 8 to 16 (75lbs and many inches ago) I raced club and regional races and regularly won in those years. After a 10 year hiatus, the excitement of LO206 got me to get back into it. I thought I would jump right in and be racing at the front since parity is a big thing in LO206. I am not close to the pace of the front runners and I need to pick up about 1 second each lap. I know that it’s not going to come in the form of one big change so I am willing to work through every little thing to find the hundredths of a second. And that includes losing weight to be able to balance the kart better.

Thank you!

I mean the simplest way would be to consciously try different things with your driving, like entering a corner later or earlier, experimenting with different braking points and throttle points, and seeing which is the fastest. With some introductory data analysis, you could break that down in the measures more visually too, seeing which apex point yielded the most apex speed or lap time. Do you have a comparison with other drivers to see where you think you are losing the most time?

The driving doesn’t look too bad. Pretty good at hitting apexes, but looks like you particularly struggle with holding the kart stable at maximum lateral load. At apex there is a fair bit of wheel sawing. I can’t really hear the throttle application point but it almost sounds like you’re a bit late to throttle sometimes. Couple that with your size and it would be easy to see how you might struggle with the kart having too much load in the center of the corner. Your steering wheel is pretty truck-driver angle, but maybe that’s necessary for you at your height. I might suggest seeing if you can tilt the wheel down a bit to help give you a better platform to push into and stabilize yourself and the kart mid-corner. Sometimes with the wheel up like that it can be easy to pull on it rather than push, which is going to cause some rubber-banding or oscillations in the kart if you aren’t super smooth mid-corner.

In 206 you barely have to brake at all, so it might be a matter of backing your brake points up 5 feet, accelerating earlier to get on power before you hit max lateral load, and that should help stabilize the kart a bit more.

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Visually, I think its apex to exit that I see other drivers faster but I don’t have data to support that and I lack in data collection. What would be the minimal (automated) data collection setup necessary with a strong cost consideration?

You made a great point and I will experiment with brake points. I’ve had the mind set that if I want to improve my lap times, I need to be going faster for longer (diving deeper into the corner), but I might be compromising my mid-corner handling and exit speed to a far greater extent.

I do have the steering wheel set as “truck-driver” as possible to fit my knees under but I am willing to sacrifice a little comfort if it means faster lap times so I will experiment with that as well. Thanks!

You’ve probably got all you need at the moment. Just need to download Alfano’s data analysis software and download your data off your gauge. Unfortunately I’m not an expert at using Alfano’s stuff, I’m a MyChron guy, but interpreting the data is the same with either setup. If you have speed and RPM capabilities on your gauge, you have basically all you need to look at for basic data analysis. When I do data for people, that’s where 90% of my time is spent.

Being slow apex to exit would indicate late throttle application. It’s very common for drivers to have the mindset of trying to drive harder into the corner to go faster, when in reality they are over-driving the entry and sacrificing exit speed. In 206 it’s especially important to optimize exit speed, as you have no power.

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I agree with @tjkoyen’s comments. Because your kart/driving combination seems to be producing a bit of a snappy rotation mid-turn for several corners, I would look at the following three areas:

  1. In the first part of the session, at the double-apex left-hander, you were using a slightly early turn in, and were taking a very tight line between the apexes. I don’t know how quick the guy in front of you was, but you seemed to gain on him doing this. Later in the session, you changed techniques and started almost missing the 1st apex, and were driving a much longer-rounder line through the turn. I would check the data to see which approach is fastest; my $ is on the first approach.

  2. On turns where you are getting a lot of snap oversteer mid corner, try turning in just a touch earlier (like 1-3 feet), but a bit slower. This might get you to the apex (rotation point) without building so much rotational energy on entry; which can easily become snap into oversteer.

  3. If the early turn-in does not help, (and even if it does), really try focusing on the energy buildup that happens in cornering. You feel it building, Building, BUILDING until you eventually reach the tire’s limit. If you focus on the buildup, and get a feel for when the ‘release’ will happen in each turn, then you can start slightly reducing steering input ‘early’ just before (or when) you get to “BUILDING”. The energy/slip angle in the tire will still allow you to finish the rotation for the corner even if you are removing steering angle ‘early’, but you won’t to too far and ‘spill’ energy that could be accelerating you into speed scrubbing oversteer.

Anyway, just some ideas. Good Luck!

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Glad you pointed that out. I had to go back and watch my video again but I see exactly what you mean. I will experiment with this next time out!

Sounds like a lot of my issues should be worked out on entry. Thanks for the insight and critique.

Yes, the actual speed improvement will come from rotation point (apex) out, but the cure is improving management of the rotation process (location and speed of rotation), and the rotation process is a direct result of how you manage the speed and energy buildup during the entry phase of the turn.

I think of rotation this way; I need to have the kart rotate (from entry mode - a slight understeering trajectory to exit mode - a slight oversteering trajectory) at the point in the turn that will allow me to get back on throttle as quickly and aggressively as possible. However, I also have to either manage the rotation speed (with my entry technique) or check the rotation (by getting on the throttle earlier - as @tjkoyen mentioned) so that the kart does not rotate too much (beyond optimal rear slip angles).

Think of a triangle between your rear tires and the kart’s center of mass; this represents the optimal acceleration path; when the kart is on a neutral to very slight oversteer trajectory, then most of the acceleration force is pushing through the kart’s center of mass to increase its speed. If you are trying to accelerate, and are using more than a few degrees of counter steering, then that’s a clear indicator that you are spilling acceleration energy out of the triangle, which means you are losing performance. Managing this is always important, but it’s critical in low-power classes. Always, work with entry technique, rotation ‘checking’ techniques, or setup to ensure you are able to manage your acceleration forces effectively. :+1: