Help: Getting into Groove Early and 4 Stroke Starts

In my first season of karting in the 4 Stroke class I am noticing I am leaving a lot on the table with my starts as well as it taking me a few laps to get into my groove and go fast.

Wondering what others are doing to help get a good start and get going on cold tires from the start?

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Hooooo boy this hits close to home…

I found that over time I got a lot better about being able to feel the grip available at start. Once I kinda knew how hard I could push it, things changed. I can’t tell you how that happened, though.

Part of it is being consistent with how you warm things up. I scrub the tires in long arcs and heat up the brakes. I try to get a sense as I’m scrubbing the tires of grip.

Then, in the early laps (1-3) I let the other guy be the hero.

I imagine this is one of those experience things. This weekends race it cost me big time. Watching the video after made my stomach drop how I just let someone pass me within 10 feet of the start and then I let the group go and had to chase.

I admit part of my challenge is the stress of not going off track or crashing someone off the start—had some off tracks in the earlier races (only my sixth race this weekend) which are haunting me.

There’s sort of a fine line between being cautious and getting trampled. You do have to push back, if someone decides to lean on you and put you in a bad place. (If safe).

By push back, I don’t mean counterattack, and whang em, that’s just slow. But, if you are being manhandled, feel free to lean on their kart and get through the corner, using their grip plus yours to maintain line. (I am caged so your mileage may vary). Someone wants to push you off the apex, you don’t have to let them through. (Sometimes it makes sense to do so if it’s better for your momentum).

This is for the bang bang bang moments when 5 guys try to take the turn together.

Also, sometimes letting them go together into the grinder is productive, while you back it up a touch and try to capitalize on their inevitable contact.

I used to just kinda hang back and then catch up once the field sorted itself. Now I do not, generally.

Coincidentally it’s around 5-6 races where I started to grok the whole racing thing better and was less apprehensive and more “I got dis”. So, you should be seeing progress soon.

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I think this is key. Give yourself some time. Seat-time will help iron out some of these concerns. Making these mistakes is how we learn, and all drivers make a lot of them. :wink:


Biggest thing at starts is, Look ahead, think ahead. Look for people going 2 or 3 wide into a turn, or someone who is going hurt someone else’s line. Think about whats going to happen to them, and do your best to get a clean line and capitalize. Think about where people aren’t gonna get the ideal line. And the biggest thing is seat time.

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I agree, I am not being inpatient or rush the process just looking to learn from my mistakes. I have been very happy with my progress and need to work on being less critical of myself.

Well said. I am sure I will be looking back at these races next year.

The line choice part actually has been ok, I started to learn early on you need to be aggressive but respectful. Its the actual start of getting going. Right now I have been playing with revving at different RPMs but starting to think better to just stomp the gas when the flag drops.

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Get on the gas quickly, but dont stomp it, you risk bogging the engine. (at least thats what I think your supposed to do) If you start thinking ahead youll pick up places

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Absolutely there’s no substitute for practice. It builds confidence more than anything. I’m thankful to CRG for running training days through the off season concentrating on starts. Every week 3 or 4 practice starts, really built confidence to get stuck into the pack during the first corners. Only différence come raceday is the pack aren’t all team mates that you know are not gonna do something stoopid, but it really helped.

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I should add our practice start grids were mixed up. Quali/random/reverse quali. We all got a crack at front/mid pack/back of grid starts. Really was invaluable.

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Grab 3 additional class mates during a practice day and replicate starts. Try a 5 lap mock race

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There are a few things you can do during practice sessions. When going out on cold tires, you can push things a little to get a feel for where the edge of your grip is. The more you try this, the better your sense of grip will be.

Secondly, if the track is not busy, you can do some practice starts. Assuming you have a data logger, go back and see at what point on the track you are when the green flag drops. Note what your rolling speed/rpm is and then use that information to try to recreate a race start. You can play with throttle application, timing for applying throttle and the like. Pick two distance points to gauge which approach yields the best results.

Lastly, at the club I have been running most consistently of late they have had one of two flaggers. One is prone to wave you off if the pack gets too out of shape, but the other is less strict. Knowing who your flagger is could mean a slight jump on the start, but it takes timing and practice. Most tracks have a line at which you cannot accelerate before, but its up to the Pole Sitter to start the pack. Sometimes allowing a slight gap between you and the driver in front of you, then accelerating a split second before them can give you a slight edge. However, beware of a driver in another lane seeing that as a hole and trying to take the spot away from you. You have to close the gap quickly and hopefully hole-shot around them.

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Yah so there’s a sort of dirty trick at starts which involves backing the field up a bit in the final corner of the out lap and accelerating off the corner.

This is for rental karts only as we do a flying start where the race employee who is pace setter peels off into pits and we accelerate to start/finish.

Excellent advice. I have already been chatting with some friends about practicing this.

Oh I know this one, having people brake or take different lines which than causes them to drop back

Speaking of dirty tricks…

Here’s my pal Tanguy being an absolute asshole but brilliantly so:

Bear in mind he was young then and the world champ in formula 2.0 Renault in Sim. Also, Hyper-competitive Euro karter at top level. I love him dearly but I think I would have punched him.

The frustration of the announcer is palpable. But it’s legit. Tanguy is reformed now and doesn’t pull these stunts anymore.

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I should caution that if you go too soon, you can also get a penalty for “Jumping the Start”. Key is to be mindful of the Pole Sitter and the Green Flag dropping. As long as you go with them or the flag and not before, you are in the clear. Its tricky, but worth learning. I am still working on it myself.

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so if your tires are taking a wile to come in you should go up on the tire pressure also an the warm up lap you have o scrub your tires in a lot

Seat time, seat time, seat time, and more seat time. The only way to know where the limit of the tires are at in the beginning of the run is through practice.


One thought I had today while trying to manage the car in the cold with cold tires. When I start to slide I generally let off throttle.

Would I be better trying to just reduce throttle but stay on it to keep the kart loaded?

That is a good question. Let me think on it. I think is yes mostly. It’s probably analogous to feeding in throttle more slowly to avoid wasting grip.

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