So, @Terence_Dove, @NikG and I have been having some conversations about some karting content, and Terence brought up a Karting1 video that they did a few years ago, that’s basically ‘Pros vs Joes.’. So it got me thinking, what are some techniques that some of the top-level drivers do, that you would want to see on video?
We could go find some and then see if they wouldn’t mind help making a video for KP.
We always try and work with comparisons of your theoretical best lap vs. your actual best lap as a good quick check for consistency. It might be cool to show all the laps of Driver A over a run vs all the laps of Driver B, and see how much actual time the more consistent driver earns over a race distance by making less mistakes.
I also would like to see overtaking from a top driver vs. overtaking from an average driver. I know when I’m watching my drivers, I’m following along with the pass in my head… “go now, okay take the apex, watch the exit, defend and finish it off into the next corner…” Generally the average Joe will make a mistake somewhere in that train of thought and either lose the spot again or prolong the damage and require a few more cross-overs to make it stick.
Also, The workings of what he does in that initial first turn of this corner I find interesting. He really “Smoothly jerks” the wheel to initiate the turn. I"ve had A few track corners require this, even though it always goes against the way I prefer to drive(slowly entering the turn gradually…)
Comparing actual best vs. theoretical best I use to do a ‘progress report’ on a driver, but I would argue more for theoretical best pace. Essentially, this tells me how fast they can go, but usually at first it is unintentional, or just a total ‘hero’ effort lap. For this reason, I will look at this to judge how ‘good’ the driver can drive the track, setting aside whether they did it repeatedly or not. Basically, the larger the gap, the worse the grade.
Comparing consistency is far more impactful for me, however. I like a driver that gets on pace immediately, and can run laps within 0.05 for the whole session. That’s a pro-level driving effort.
One onboard I share a lot with my students is how to move their hands as they drive into a corner, basically how they should be doing more steering early in the corner and less through the rest of it, that’s a key (at least for me) in driving a kart fast.
I would also like to see the braking techniques of several different top drivers. A lot of drivers I see/work with are very lazy when it comes to how fast they roll onto the brakes, and off, etc. In particular, an onboard of Matt Johnson would be fascinating, as he is one of very few drivers that can make consistent trail braking work well all the time, a rare technique in karting, at least the way he does it.
There are many things that separate the ‘pro’ karter from the average joe. But, for me, here are some metrics:
Learning from mistakes. If I watch a driver, and they make the same mistake over and over in a corner, that means they don’t have a lot of experience on that track, but more importantly, don’t have a good sense of feeling the kart and knowing what ‘fast’ feels like. Top level drivers know what ‘fast’ feels like in a kart, usually in several different forms. That’s a whole other conversation.
I also like to look at body language. You can tell when a driver is ‘behind’ the kart, meaning the kart is driving them around the track (uncontrolled slides, poor use of the steering, awkward weight transfer, etc.), or truly driving it, meaning they know when it is going to grip up, how to move the kart over bumps, etc. The ‘pro’ drivers typically move their body in anticipation, not in reaction.
One thing I would love to see on video is a debrief from a top driver. I suspect it would blow some people’s minds how much info a top driver can give to a tuner or others compared to a new driver or average Joe. Some of this is a better, more nuanced understanding of the kart, but most of it is simply a work ethic and methodology to how the kart behaves. I think this is one area that a lot of people should focus more.
I’d like to know what a good debrief looks like as well. I piss off my tuner to no end by having no clue how to translate or even read what the kart is doing to the guy we pay a lot of money to help us. He can’t help if I don’t know what’s going on.
He needs to ask the right questions and help you more. Most good tuners don’t even really need to talk to driver, they can see what the kart is doing and the conversation is to confirm it. Its only when you are looking for a tenth that a drivers input is really necessary.
I deal with a lot of junior drivers who usually have no idea whats going on and often want to run away and play with their mates. The trick is to phrase the question correctly. You can’t say is it understeering/pushing. You have to pick a specific corner and ask a question like when you turn does it go where you expect it to go, does it go too fast, is it pointy and sensitive. You can then work through the corner with similar questions. The difficultly here is not to lead them to the answer you already know and to be able to see on track if they were the cause of the issue (like yanking at the steering wheel causing oversteer).
An overarching is it doing this or that never works because the kart almost always acts differently on each corner and its a case of setting the kart up for fast lap, not a fast single corner.