Looking to start discussion on driving technique, particularly steering input. I was generally under the impression that smooth “finesse” was the fastest way in most situations (dry track under ideal situations), especially the more sweeping the turn. However, I have been watching random videos of racers on youtube and notice that there are some drivers that “flick” the wheel to initiate the turn.
To me that seems like that driving technique is compensating for a chassis that isn’t just right. Thoughts on that?
Agree with Alan. Also, are you watching fast drivers or randoms?
Generally, smooth is fast. But a faster corner will require a faster input. Sometimes flicking the kart in is necessary to get it rotated quick enough.
It’s also very important to note that you can be smooth and have quick hands at the same time. Flick and finesse are not mutually exclusive. When you watch fast drivers, that’s what they are doing. They might put an aggressive input through the wheel, but they aren’t going over the tire’s limit, so there isn’t any excess slip or loss of traction. That takes a lot of skill and experience to know where that limit is and crank the wheel just to that limit and not over.
Most of the best drivers are driving with a combination of finesse and firm inputs when needed.
I agree with TJ and Alan. One thing to consider when talking about ‘flicking’ a kart/car into a turn is that often the flick is a two-step process; the initial steering input that starts the rotation into the turn, and a second steering input (that happens immediately, and in the opposite direction), which is intended to check, or counteract the rotational momentum put in motion by the first steering input.
The best drivers can go from the initial steering input to the exact amount of steering correction input needed to ‘catch’ the kart with the outside rear tire at the optimum slip angle. Since the initial steering input starts a ‘wave’ of rotational energy, catching the rear tire at the optimum slip angle often requires that the correction steering input be done immediately so that it can get ahead of the energy wave… that is, your correction must pass the energy wave, and be waiting where it will be needed to stop the rotational energy when it arrives.
Lastly, flicks often (but not always) require additional driving input such as braking, lifting, or pre-turning to unweight the back end of the kart, and then a corresponding throttle application to work in conjunction with the steering correction input to stop the rotation.
All of the above can be done smoothly, especially when it is incorporated into your mental model of the track, so that it can be fine tuned, and then just becomes automatic.
And to piggy-back onto that, they are often adapting styles to different sections of the track, to different track conditions, and to offset handling issues.
When using the term “complete” driver, this is what it is referring to. A driver who is combining different techniques and styles and constantly adapting on the fly to find the quickest style for each given scenario.
You can be moderately good only driving smoothly or only driving aggressively. And on a good day you’ll probably win some races, when the track conditions and kart setup suit you. But when you start changing up things to suit the conditions and adapting, that’s when you really start to be a very strong driver.
The attached video of Driver Ryan Norberg is what got me thinking about this topic. I assume he is a higher-level driver, but he is by no means the only driver I have observed driving this way. His “flicking” to me seems exaggerated but as Warren pointed out he is driving it out and making it look like it’s working. It doesn’t seem ideal to me but I don’t know much. So is this the fastest method of driving the corners?
As for smooth, TJ’s video of his KA race from 2018 is as smooth as I have seen.
Granted these are not the same classes or the same track, but it struck me how different the styles are.
SO, what’s faster? If I understand Warren you make it sound like if it is done correctly the flick may be faster?
As I noted above, it depends on lots of factors and the two terms or styles are not mutually exclusive. I’ve actually had other drivers of mine ask me about this exact video and “flicking” the kart like Ryan does.
Homestead is a very quick track with a lot of fast 90 degree corners and a ton of curb usage. To be quick you need to get the kart into the corner hard and fast, and chuck it around a lot more. Yes, Ryan is flicking it around a lot in the fast stuff, but look at his hands in the slower corners. See 2:16 in this tight stuff, and you can see he is smooth as glass there. This is what I’m talking about, where Ryan is a very complete driver. He is able to find that limit and get to it with quick hands in the fast stuff without go over the tire limit, but in the slow corners, he is slowing everything down and being as smooth as possible to keep the kart stable. He is combining both styles on different parts of the track.
My video is from GoPro Motorplex, a very flowing track that rewards smoother driving. The only corner here where you might flick the kart around is turn 1, but even then, the corner is a bit longer than most of these 90s at Homestead. If I were racing Homestead, my hands would be quicker.
I’ve always aimed to be smooth, as that is what I learned growing up running low-horsepower stuff. That is probably why I am better at places like GoPro or New Castle where smoothness is rewarded, and I’m less successful at other tracks.
Here is me being less smooth, but running purple laps at Daytona many moons ago:
This is on a temporary track, where you need to be more aggressive on the wheel to get the kart to rotate.
Here is another example of a good track that has a combination of fast and slow corners so you can see the two styles at work. Also keep in mind these are harder tires than what you see in the Norberg video.
Agree. And IMHO flicking is generally harder. More fun, but harder. I tried for 2+ days to flick into T1 at GoPro, but I could not do it consistently. I went to smooth and it was just easier to get around the track. Same thing at New York Race Complex at the high speed turn at the end of the pit straight, two years ago, it was coming up aces. Last year, I could not do it consistently.
In KK, I am a big flicker, I would say. But, it is very corner dependent, it’s not for yucks. In my case, I am using the flick to break the back end free, or because it works, somehow with the weight transfer. So, for example, around the Bobby corner at PFI, I flick hard right into this 90 degree turn, sort of floating the kart around the turn. I could brake and then turn in, the traditional way, but flick works, too.
I was recently talking with a fellow karter and mentioned this idea of flicking. The topic of using a “Scandinavian flick” was an idea we wondered about. While it is typically a rally maneuver where traction isn’t very high, the thinking is it might work for a wet track and maybe even in the dry. Any thoughts on using the Scandinavian flick in karts?
I don’t think it’s really necessary in the dry at least. It’s already possible to flick the kart hard enough to upset the chassis with relatively minimal input, as karts are so twitchy already. And you don’t want the rear to be sliding around.
It’s done in rally to initiate massive rotation by way of sliding the rear of the car.
Personally the closest I’ve come to flick on a kart is a forced rotation of rear mid turn. Basically pushing the rotation a bit further, that’s it. I dont think I have come across a need to truly flick.
I am told by indoor rental karters that’s it’s a legit part of that. They swear that sliding the rear around on some corners is faster on the slippery tracks.
It’s fun but not super useful unless you’re struggling for grip. Like slicks in the wet struggling*. In that situation It can get you slowed down faster than using just the rear brakes and you have the added inertia on entry/turn in.
In karting you’ll see it at times in the days of natural rubber (90’s) where you could leverage crazy slip angles (Pantano)… but not so much now.