So this weekend was pretty huge for me. The racing was on a new track, so nobody knew what was going on at first, and the track was brand new, so my chassis was pretty okay with no grip on the ground. I qualified 8th on Saturday, and I dropped 6 spots mostly because the other drivers knew how to run in traffic. So what are some tips or things to keep in mind while in a big pack?
At regional and national level racing, the golden rule is basically “if you aren’t going forward, you’re going backward”. This applies somewhat less to Yamaha, where karts can legitimately work together and the racing isn’t as aggressive. Situational awareness is also a big thing. So you should be looking ahead at what the front of the pack is doing to make sure you can capitalize on mistakes or know when you’re going to get bottled up and need to defend.
I remember when I first started running in the mid-pack and my brain was just sort of in panic mode all the time. Didn’t know when to make a move, didn’t know what was coming from behind me, couldn’t tell what was happening in front… Keeping tabs on what’s going around you and developing plans lap-to-lap to get to the front of the pack help a lot.
And also, good work this weekend.
That’s a phrase I haven’t heard before but it definitely makes sense. I saw how it pays to be aggressive sometimes at the last weekend, and getting used to it was an interesting process. However, be the end of the weekend I think I was figuring it out somewhat.
Anything else you can think of?
Practice passing. If you have a friend that is about the same pace at you, go practice with them, and just go ‘race’ on a practice day. Be smart, don’t crash, etc. But that will give you more comfort when it comes to running in a pack. There really is no substitute except to keep racing and moving forward in the pack! Congrats on beginning to mix it up.
So this really is one of those experience is the best teacher type situations. So now I just hope I can pull an okay result out of our last race of the series and learn from it.
I think it’s much down to your mental state, like TJ is referring to. But there are ways to train it. For instance, when you practice, also practice the braking zones off line. Same goes for your ‘ideal’ line when you are on the inside or the outside of someone. So when you are running in a pack, at least you know your braking lines and the grip levels off line. So you can scrap that uncertainty. If you practice all the things you can be uncertain or excited about beforehand, your confidence level will rise massively once you are running in a pack! Eric Gunderson’s advise is also gold (and so is TJ’s, as always).
Do you play racing games/sims at all? That could be a cheap way to exercise that state of mind of being in a pack, having a plan and just being more comfortable.