In general the fastest racing line is the straightest line basically. Now every corner has its own characteristic, its own optimal line based on whatever car you’re driving.
Overtaking or go kart passing is a very important part of go kart racing. There will be countless numbers of opportunities to pass and be passed every time you head out to the track. Whether it’s during a practice or during the final points race of the season, passing needs to be smooth and efficient. Even if you are not a serious kart racer and you are using family friendly indoor track…we will cover the most important moves you need for success.
In this article we will cover the two most important techniques used to overtake your opponents when cornering; out-braking in and out-accelerating out. Of course there are other times to pass, but these will be your best opportunities for a clean overtake.
Understand the Track
During a practice or qualifying session on the track, it is a good idea to consciously look for places on the track that you might be able to pass on. Consider the fastest racing line you would drive in a situation you might pass and practice it a few times. This way, when you start the race you already have a plan of how your going to get up to the front in the least time possible.
Wide parts of the track are the most ideal and the safest, but tight turns can offer the element of surprise although you need to be able to pass both clean and safe. The idea is to find spots of vulnerabilities where other drivers may go wide or take turns to tight.
How to Pass in a Go Kart Race
The most likely way you are going to be able to pass someone on the track is if you are able to out-brake or out-accelerate you opponent in a turn.
Out Braking Your Opponent Into a Corner
The title is pretty much self explanatory. You have to be able to out-brake your opponent into the corner so that you have the advantage on the inside. You will have a tighter line and will be able to pull away with your speed coming out of the corner. The move starts with getting parallel to your opponent and essentially you are preventing them from turning in.
In the diagram below, the green dot represents the proper passing move.
Here is the step by step approach to a proper out-brake pass:
- Get parallel to your opponent
- Brake slightly later than them on the turn in
- Ease off the throttle and maintain the inside line
- Visually check where your opponents kart is in relation to yours
- Accelerate on the turn exit and move onto your opponents line (if its safe)
Pro Tip: Avoid “Diving” into the corner to avoid an accident. As a general rule, make sure that the person you plan on overtaking has seen you and knows not to turn into you overtake them. If you are not at least level with the other go karter before they start turning in, back off. Other wise, you may cause an accident and be disqualified.
If you are trailing an opponent and not parallel, you can also look for an opportunity when the car ahead of you starts to drift wide into a corner and they leave a gap to the inside. You can accelerate into and out-brake them (risky move though, cause they still need to see you). If it’s not meant to be back off and wait for another corner.
Out braking is a good technique, but it is often the slowest way through a corner as it utilizes the early apex.
Out-Accelerating Out of the Corner
Your goal when using this method of overtaking is to use a wider line going into the corner so that you may start to accelerate before your opponent. The goal is to be heading straight forward on the throttle as your opponent is just coming out of the corner.
In the diagram below, the blue dot represents the proper passing move.
Here is the step by step approach to a proper out-brake pass:
- Take a wide approach on the corner (use threshold braking)
- At the end of the braking zone begin your acceleration
- Aim for the late Apex on the corner exit
- Look to be full throttle and straighten your wheels as fast as possible
Pro Tip: This best executed when your opponents have a tendency to turn in early. The key to pulling it off correctly is to time your throttle compression in a straight line, while your opponent is still cutting their wheel for their turn exit and can’t accelerate at the same rate you can because of the slip angle of their tires.
Out-accelerating using the late apex is the fastest way through the corner and is a pro passing move.
Go Kart Overtaking – Wrap up
Understanding these two techniques will carry you along way into winning more races and getting your season points. There is a certain art to it and it requires timing, patience, and practice. The diagrams above are for one turn type, but can generally be applied to most corner angles.
For other pro go kart racing tips you can checkout the top 10 cornering techniques which will also help you to pass like a pro kart racer.
Well, the easy answer is find the fastest line around the track and master your cornering techniques, but the truth is victory comes to those who are most prepared.
If you are prepared for the day at hand, there will be no surprises, you can be calm and collected, and overall have an excellent race day. Sometimes it’s not even about winning the race, it’s about finishing the race strong and knowing that you drove the fastest race you could have in the end.
Below are some steps you can take before every race weekend to ensure you put yourself in a position to win, before the race starts.
Preparing Like a Winner
Pre Race Checklist
Make sure that everything that needs to be done on the kart is completed before you get there. Change your oil, tighten up and double check all the nuts and bolts, get your spec gas all ready to go, etc. There is nothing worse than showing up on a race day and having to make drastic improvements to you go kart while you’re on the paddock.
Its most helpful if you write up a pre-race checklist on your smart phone the night before and literally check everything off to make sure its completed. Using the same checklist every race will ensure consistency of preparation.
Get a Good Nights Sleep & Eat a Full Breakfast
Get an excellent sleep the night before, and make sure you eat a great breakfast. A good night sleep will help improve your reaction time on the track and increase your ability to make good decisions.
I understand that we go kart lovers have to get up early to be where we need to be sometimes, but regardless you will perform much better on a full stomach than you would otherwise. And then there are those of use who need to eat to make weight either way! So eat a good meal before you get going!
Walk the Track
Before you get on the grid it’s a good idea to take a look at the track or even better walk it. This might seem weird but every go karter should try it at least once if they don’t already do it. After you walk it, try and just visualize the track in your mind so that once you get out there it will seem easy! Like you’ve done it one hundred times before. This is especially crucial if you are at a track you’ve never visited before. You should really take the time to study the track in this case.
In addition to walking the track you should also review the flags to make sure you are familiar with what the circuit uses.
Get to the Race Grid On Time
Pay attention to the race officials. It sucks to be last on the grid or have people waiting for you because you missed the call while you were having a conversation with that cute girl from the next pit over. So try to resist and pay attention! The day will go much smoother overall if you’re on time.
It will benefit you to sit in your kart and meditate for a few minutes on your strategy, while you wait for other drivers to take the grid.
Getting a Good Start
Once you’re on the track, your focus has now switched to the green flag. As soon as that flags falls you need to be ready to step on it! Getting a good start is a crucial part of any race. Be ready for it.
Think 2 Steps Ahead
Once you’re actually racing, try and stay calm, cool and focused on the kart in front of you. Always be thinking ahead about how you might overcome or hold off an opposing go kart. Also, always be ready for them to make a mistake. Every time they slip up, you are given an opportunity to make a move and overtake. Take advantage of this factor and stay focused so you aren’t the one slipping up! This will be your key to winning the race or finishing ahead of those you have been racing with all year.
5 Beginner Tips for Winning Go Kart Races
- Sit With Your back flush Against the Seat – Posture plays a role in how your karts handles and accelerates. Sit with your back up against the seat and do not lean forward. Leaning forward will slow you down.
- Grip the Wheel at 10 and 2 – 10 and 2 is preferred but any symmetrical grip is fine. Grab the wheel sturdy so that your have good control while you turn. If you don’t grip tight enough you will waste time and inertia correcting your kart’s racing line.
- Keep the Wheels Straight as Much as Possible – The straighter you can point the front wheels with your foot on the throttle the faster you will be. Ever time you turn and/or swerve you reduce your speed and negatively affect your lap time.
- Threshold Brake – Braking with your front tires straight is more effective than braking while turning. Try to complete all your braking before the corner and then accelerate through the corner.
- Follow the Fats Drivers – If you are not winning thats fine, but pay attention to the fast racers. See what line they are taking on the track and try to mimick it.
Ready to Win
Of course we aren’t saying that by doing these things you are sure to win your next go karting race, however, these steps should help you to stay calm, cool and confident. These three things are crucial for a racer! If you are looking for information about how to race your kart to the absolute edge for faster lap times, check out our Advanced Driving Techniques for the Fast Racing Line and 10 Tips for Faster Corners.
ASN is Canada’s National Motorsports Sanctioning Authority and creates karting regulations every year for kart sport that tell you and I how to do things right… here are regs that we find most useful to new and experienced go karters. We use Canada’s Regs, it is recommended that you check with your club what rules you should follow.
Pre technical inspection is what happens every morning before the big race. Every go karter is required to complete their own pre-tech inspection self declaration. This can be confusing at first for new karters. Just place your race sticker on the assigned spot and get ready to race! Make sure you don’t forget to pre-tech! If you do, you’re liable to receive a penalty or be disqualified all together.
Pro Tip: All you need to know is that as long as your go kart is up to spec according to the pre tech form you are given at registration, and the inspector gives you the ok, you’re all good!
Post technical inspection is what happens every day after the final race. Usually, the top five go karts are chosen for post tech; however a technical inspector may chose to inspect any kart that was in competition. The tech inspectors may choose, however, to open up the engine and make sure everything is to spec. After they do this, you my friend, are responsible for putting it all back together… so if this is your first time, you might want to pay attention to what they are doing!
Pro Tip: As long as none of the bolts that were painted before qualifying are tampered with, and the tires that were painted before qualifying were used, you are pretty safe.
This is pretty fool proof; but unless you were wondering, it’s against ASN regulations to use modified, grooved or altered dry tires.
Pro Tip: When racing in the rain move in your rear tires. There is a minimum width that ASN states it must be for dry racing, but this is waived for wet racing as long as the axle doesn’t stick out the end, which would most definitely be a pretty dangerous situation!
Wheels and Hubs
There are some pretty specific things you need to remember for your wheels though, so maybe you should double check next time you go out racing.
Basically, the maximum width of your front tires should be 135 mm. Your rear dry tires can be between 175 and 185 mm. The end!
If you’re light like me, you may have a bunch of lead stuck to your seat to help you weigh in. Here are some seat regulations you might want to check out so that you don’t break any rules. Make sure that the seat is only one piece with no added on sections. The seat has to be in good condition in order to use it. So if you’ve got a few cracks or holes in that old seat of yours you might want to consider a replacement some time soon. Finally, make sure your seat is no less than 14 mm from the top of the seat to the ground when you mount it.
Mounting Your Lead / Weights
This is the part of the regulations I’ve become most familiar with over the years. The most important thing you need to know is that your lead must be securely attached to either your seat or the main frame of the kart. So, no lead in your shoes, no lead in your pockets, even when you’ve run out of room to put it all!
You are also required in the regulations to use large washers when mounting your led to your seat. It’s not just safe, it’s sensible, because it will help your seat last longer in the long run.
Pro Tip: You’re also not allowed to attach any lead or ballast weight to any of your body work, as tempting as it may be sometimes when you are tight for space.
Most of the regulations included in ASN Canada’s regulations are commons sense. However, there are some things you might want to know if you are ever in the situation where you need a quick fix but don’t know if you will pass post tech after the final race. Basically, if your nose cone breaks off during a race, you can only reattach it with the suitable clamps. You are not allowed to attach your nose cone with any other types of clamps, wires or tape. Sorry, duct tape cannot fix this one.