When Should I start Focusing on Tuning the kart?

So, was hoping to get some thoughts on tuning from folks who have been piloting karts for a while.
My approach up to now has been that the biggest variable, in terms of performance, is me. Given my relatively low level of experience and seat time I have actively avoided set up noodling about with kart adjustments because I am likely the proverbial loose nut, not my caster or camber.
At what point in ones driving abilities do you feel that messing about with the kart becomes actually useful in terms of chasing down better lap times?

  1. Consistency. Can you run multiple laps every time you go out within 1 or 2 tenths?
  2. Your lap times compared to “fast” times. Are you 5+ seconds off pace or just 1 or 2 seconds?

If you’re running consistent and reasonable lap times, it’s time to start tuning that kart up!

So I’d agree with the first point on consistency, but I’d slightly disagree on the fast times comment.
Sometimes, tuning the kart is what helps the driver to get more comfortable to push in different areas than they might otherwise.

My philosophy is that as long as the driver is consistent, even if they are three seconds off the pace, we can do some tuning knowing that the driver will remain the same.

Just telling them to go faster until they hit a ‘tuning laptime’, doesn’t make any sense to me, in my opinion.

What I would recommend is having a driver’s notebook with you, so that you can take notes on your driving. (I’ve written an article about what things you can include in there here: https://startinggrid.org/2011/07/30/want-to-track-your-improvement-get-a-drivers-log/

I’d also have a tuners book for your kart, so that you can get used to making small changes, and seeing what handling differences you notice. If you don’t get any experience with it, it won’t matter if you start tuning once you “reach the fast times”, because you won’t know what the kart does. Get experience with it now, and like seat time, put those files in your mental folder.

Here is a link to some examples of some setup guides: Let's Build the Ultimate Kart Setup Sheet

Finally, here is an article about how to better plan test days, so you get more out of practice: https://startinggrid.org/2016/01/12/kart-tip-how-to-have-a-more-effective-practice-day-theartofkart/

I’m going to more agree with Morgan than Davin.

As soon as you can lap consistently with a few tenths, you can start playing with setup. I agree with Morgan in the idea that you need to be running decent lap times. Running 3 seconds off the pace likely means you aren’t even close to the ideal line or braking points, so the kart isn’t going to handle as expected anyway, because you’re not driving the kart at it’s limit. You really need to be getting the kart somewhere near the limit before it really starts working the way it’s supposed to.

A kart frame is like a spring. It needs to be stretched before it starts serving it’s purpose.

1 Like

Thanks. To answer I am apparently about a half to one second off the fast(ish) lap pace. I think quick for etown in races is 41ish and I’m at low 42. I frequently run laps within a tenth but not as consistently as I’d like. I’ll watch closely this weekend and get a better idea of consistency.

What I’m hearing is if you don’t experiment you won’t acquire the knowledge which you will eventually need. So it can wait, but why not start?

With that in mind, what one variable would you mess about with on a test day to start getting a feel for how things change? Preferably something that doesn’t require major disassembly.

Caster, camber, height, width? Bear in mind I run x30 in leCont whites which I think qualify as medium tires.


Exactly, you’re on the right track. Make one change at a time, but make it a really big change. Start with neutral caster and then go to max caster. Go back to the neutral setup and put positive camber in it. Next time out, negative camber. Wide vs narrow front width. High vs low tire pressures.

You want to feel how each adjustment affects the kart. Eventually you’ll get to the point where, depending on track condition, weather, ect, you can really feel what the kart is doing (lifting too much or not enough) and make an educated guess on what the kart needs to go faster.

I tune primarily with the front end and tire pressures. Changing axles is a pain in the ass so I leave that as a last resort. With X30 you’ll probably always be at max rear width. I don’t like how short and long rear hubs make the kart feel so I rarely change from mediums.

1 Like

I guess 3 seconds is a bit on an exaggeration. My main point is to get consistent, and then focus on tuning for education’s sake.

Once you start to understand how the kart is working, you can start tuning for laptime.