Getting that last second

Hi Guys, not sure how to word this best to get some advise. This is really my first season…last season was a joke with the leopard I ran (no competition) So this season comes around and I switch to KA100 and much better.

Fast forward to Sunday (7th race of season). Ran my best laps yet…but I am still about 1 second from running with the pack all race, 2 sec from the front. I can hang for the first 1-3 laps then everyone else settles in and they start pulling away from me. Trying to learn as much as I can in those first laps. Granted I am racing in a masters class, and they are very good.

I am on a bit older of a chassis with 40mm axle. So not sure if my last second lies in better equipment…or is it my driving, or setup? I didn’t expect to win a race this season…but I also didn’t expect to finish every race by myself in the back.

I can pin point some turns that I can work on…but I just feel so far from being competitive. I know hard to give pointers without video. But do you guys have any tips for a slowly improving driver?

1 second is still far enough away that it’s mostly down to driving I would imagine. Equipment might help you get closer, but what you’re probably missing is something fundamental in your driving. The issue is that you probably don’t know what you don’t know when it comes to technique, so while you might have an idea of a couple corners you could improve in, there’s probably plenty more little stuff that you aren’t realizing is an issue.

Shameless self-plug, but this is where real coaching or having someone who knows what they’re doing review your on-board video can be a real help.

The $75 I spent on my first driving coaching session 15 years ago was the best money I ever spent in karting.

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Yes. It’s all in line you take and the inputs you make and when you make them.

There is a correct way to drive that needs to be understood. Speaking from personal experience, and observing other new drivers, they seem to fall into two camps: pushing too hard or being too cautious.

Pushing too hard camp (me) tends to try to be as deep as possible into corners without having the experience or sensitivity to pull this off. Consequently, everything is mild panic. And therefore you are typically still braking when you should be transitioning to gas. There ends up being lots of trail because you don’t really know how to effectively brake hard yet, also.

So timing isn’t there yet. The speed of this makes too much mental noise and you get overwhelmed by the moment and you are probably operating off a guess of what you think you should be doing. In my case I was a wave of energy that would build and crash into the turn. It was very binary. Go as fast as possible and then try to slow down as fast as possible. This was untenable.

Think instead of trying to calm it all down and trying to maintain a sense of balance. Try to do the turn complex with quiet tires. See how that feels. Chase the feeling of the turns that work, that has that “feels right” moment. Brake earlier. Focus on the exit, not the entry.

It is a process. It’s a ton of laps. But there is flow to be had.

The overly cautious group has a different set of issues, which I don’t have experience with.

Am I looking in a mirror. My experience completely.

Thanks for the input TJ!! I will be in touch about coaching.

It’s helpful. I can link a video from TJ coaching if interested.

Thanks Dom…So seat time it is! I appreciate your input!

To be fair it’s not just seat time. @speedcraft could tell you some stories.

I came to a point where desire to improve met limits of talent. I remember being very frustrated one race weekend when it became clear to me that something was fundamentally wrong with how I was going about things.

And, I did not have the experience or talent to identify what was the issue. But, I had enough talent and ability to recognize that I had hit a wall. I had to beg a stranger whose thinking I admired for help. Who, fortunately, agreed to give me 6 months.

It changed everything for me. I needed Warren’s understanding of the inner workings of driving to move forwards. I needed to think differently, to truly understand or arrive at a workable understanding of how it all works.

I can honestly say that I have the kart beneath me now, pretty much fully. I have a long way to go, but I have a very workable understanding of what is going on, what needs to be done and when. I also understand they “why” as well.

All skills are built on the foundations of others work. You can figure it out yourself if you have the talent of a Hamilton, I guess. The rest of us need help.

Thanks for putting it that way! I am still at a point in my driving that I have a hard time explaining what my kart is doing too. The more I race the more I “feel” the kart. Still have a hard time explaining what the kart is or isn’t doing. And I have not changed a lot of settings yet either. Small changes here and there, but nothing dramatic. Maybe I should make a dramatic change just to feel the difference.

Either way I am getting a coaching session on the books for this season!

Get 10.

The answer doesn’t lie in tuning. Maybe I am naive but I see a lot of tuning solutions that mask a deeper issue. You want to be able to make an understeery krapkart work, regardless. The ability to make a kart work without tuning is a big boost to your skill set.

I am going to be crucified for this but I think tuning the kart off baseline is not a great idea for a new driver. Learn the driving first, then tune when you have the vocabulary and skills for it. It’s a distraction until then.

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This is spot on and I don’t think anyone would disagree with you. Especially on a modern kart where the baseline should be fairly close under most track conditions.

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Justin, your situation sounds very similar to mine, except I have been at it for about 4 years. Having run Yamaha KT100 for 3 years I always felt like I was spending time (wasting time) with the motor and not much on set up. The KA is basically a Ron Popeil (set it and forget it) type of motor. They are very even and consistent, however I would say they require a focus on driving, because small mistakes make a dramatic difference to your lap times.

Coaching isn’t something I even thought about but might now based on this thread. Somethings that have helped me:

Walk the track - pay attention to where karts are running. Imagine your ideal line in each part of the track.

Watch other racers, especially the guys who are fast, If possible work as a corner worker, working inside the track allows vantage points you don’t get as a regular spectator.

Talk to other racers, especially in other classes, not everyone is forthcoming with information, but most racers are willing to help.

Read message boards. People that frequent these places have a lot of experience and generally want to help.

Kart maintenance. Keep it clean, check things over, always check for loose fasteners, lubricate the moving parts. Don’t take for granted that since you tighten a bolt it won’t somehow loosen, because it will.

Practice. I used to have a boss that would say practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. Have a plan, work on specific things. Three years ago a new racer started running, he would practice every chance he could, he is now one of the fast guys.

Have fun and keep it fun, even if it is frustrating.

Bob…I really appreciate the input. All of the racers in my class have been an excellent source of info!!

Really learned my lesson checking all bolts when my motor mount bolts wiggled loose about a month ago–rough weekend–also bruised a few ribs that weekend—another story lol!! Luckily the threads were not damaged…and the guys helped out huge on that one to get back on the track the next day.

I guess it more about the details than it is the set up of my kart at this point.

Are you able to make minimum weight for the class? Weight is everything in karting. I struggled my first year when I was 35-40 lbs over min weight. I over-drove the kart and made mistakes constantly trying to make up a for something you just can’t overcome.

Yes , but beware otherwise you end up mildly anorexic like me. Once you go down the weight loss rabbit hole, jeez it’s hard to get out. Stomach contracts.

I weigh the same now as senior year of high school, thanks to wanting to be “fast” but I haven’t made peace yet with all this weight loss. There’s really no reason for me to need 50lbs lead at 50 years old.

Desire is a powerful but dangerous thing. Know when (and how) to stop. I didn’t and don’t know how. It sorta took on a life of its own as it started working and I got really used to being hungry all the time, but food is a chore. But, I do miss enjoying food.

If I had to do this again, I’d probably work with a nutritionist or something. Let’s hope not.

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Wow Dom thats hardcore. I have lost about 15lbs since I started karting and would benefit from another 15 - 20, but I enjoy food, as I am also a chef instructor at a vocational school. However, you and Andy make a good point, weight makes a difference. We tested this with my son. Ten pounds made about .2 of second a lap at our track.

Go kart racers, the “jockeys” of motorsport I guess. NASCAR has the right idea though, none of those guys seem to worry about their weight like the f1 guys. It doesn’t appear to be about horsepower, though.

Maybe it’s size of car, too. Hard to fit a big guy in a formula car?

Robert what was the overall weight of the kart and driver? Just wondering how it compares to my weight class.

This thread has just further strengthened I want driver coaching. I’m usually within .2-.3 of the fast times of the day. But that last little bit just isn’t there.

But for me I think a lot is trying to transition to an high horsepower car to the 206. I know overdrive and drive to deep into corners. But that’s when I’m in the front. When I’m chasing I calm down and drive better.

Practice I just do laps and race the mychron. Aiming for consistency. But I’m usually the only 206 at practice so nobody to compare times with.

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Andy, last year I ran Yamaha pipe. The minimum required weight was 380, I then weighed about 205 and had to add a little bit of weight to my kart. This year with KA100, same chassis and the same weight requirement of 380. The KA is a heavier package. I am down to 200, but my overall weight is 390ish. I am competitive but lacking that last half of a second per lap. I have “somewhat” come to terms with this as I am 50 racing against a few guys that are half my age and I don’t have the physique of a karter, even if I lost the 20lbs. I have always enjoyed racing, I raced RC cars for many years, but with karts, I get to sit in it and drive. There really isn’t a less expensive way to get that feeling. Do I want to win, sure, but there is also satisfaction in finding ways to improve, working on the karts, and the camaraderie of my fellow karters.