Up Your Game With These Four Go-Kart Cornering Tips
Go-kart racing is a competitive and fun activity. Still, no matter how you approach it, winning is a great feeling when you’re on the track. Proper go-kart cornering techniques are an essential skill in your quest for first place.
For beginners, we’ll cover everything from steering wheel control to entering and exiting different types of curves. So buckle up — class is in session!
Holding and Turning the Wheel
Conventional driving wisdom says you should hold your hands at 10 and 2 (like the numbers on a round clock), but this isn’t necessarily true in a go-kart. Some people prefer the 9 and 3 positions while others prefer 4 and 8. So whatever is the most comfortable position for you, go for it. However, no matter what you do, keep a firm grip with both hands on either side of the steering wheel.
Again, try out different grip positions to find out what’s most comfortable with your driving style.
With your hands in a comfortable position, it’s time to focus on actually turning the steering wheel. The golden rule of go-kart cornering is to be precise and smooth while steering.
Try to avoid jerking the wheel around with sudden movements. Instead, the best thing to do is to look ahead and mentally prepare for the turn, then, with smooth and gradual motions, take the corner. This rule also applies when straightening the wheel coming out of a turn. Proper go-kart cornering prevents spin-outs, just like any other type of vehicle.
Braking and Entering Turns
Speed control is everything in go-kart cornering. Brake before you hit the curve to go into a turn as smoothly as possible. When you’re zooming around the track, a corner will probably come up earlier than you expect, so it’s best to mentally prepare for it.
It’s essential to enter at the right speed, so you don’t have to make any last-second adjustments, which will slow you down and change how you make the turn. Even F1 racing enthusiasts and drivers say it’s better to brake too early than too late.
Aim to get all your braking done before turning the wheel to maintain traction; this also gives you a second to get ready to press the gas. Braking or accelerating as you turn can be unpredictable, causing too much friction, skidding and loss of momentum.
With those braking tips in mind, focus on where your go-kart is in relation to the turn. You’ll want to approach most turns from the outside of the track so you won’t waste precious speed taking the corner too sharply or accidentally skidding.
This sets you up for exiting the turn on the inside. From there, you can drive towards the outside of the track again.
Exiting a Turn
The main goals of exiting a turn are gaining speed, straightening your wheels and using the whole track. As we mentioned, you’ll want to leave a turn from the inside. Then, when you’re through the turn, straighten your steering wheel gradually and head back to the outside of the track.
This is where you can really make record time! Heading from the inside of a corner gives you the most space and time to speed up and get ready for the next curve.
Steering Through Different Types of Corners
Those are general go-kart turning tips, but not every turn is created equal. Each requires a slight modification to your cornering strategy. But that’s what makes go-kart racing so thrilling!
Let’s focus on the types of turns we have at K1 Speed go-kart track in Toronto.
Right Angle Turns
This is the most basic go-kart track corner. Brake lightly while entering the turn from the outside. Release the brake and turn the wheel slightly towards the inside of the curve and keep it steady.
Your go-kart should be closest to the inside corner when in the turn. If there’s not another corner immediately after it, straighten your wheel, accelerate and exit the corner by going back towards the outside of the track.
Sometimes, two right-angle corners follow one another, forming what looks like a hairpin turn with a straight bit of track in the middle. You can tackle this turn in one fluid motion by following the above steps and aiming your cart closer to the outside of the track.
Your path will look like a rainbow. Your momentum will carry you through the second turn without any additional braking or steering adjustments if you enter it just right.
This type of turn looks like an arch. However, unlike two right-angle turns in a row, a hairpin turn is one long, continuous curve without a straight bit of track in the middle.
Approach the hairpin from the outside of the track. Brake slightly before the curve, then release the brake as you turn the wheel smoothly yet sharply.
If you hold the wheel in this position, you should hit the actual turn on the inside of the curve and exit heading towards the outside of the track.
This type of turn looks like an “S” or serpentine curve. Enter this turn like you would a right angle turn, but when you exit the first part of the S, aim your go-kart towards the inside part of the second curve. This way, you can drive in a straight line, accelerate and pick up some valuable speed.
In this type of turn, it’s essential to keep looking ahead. If you can get through the curve in a straight line, you’ll be able to set yourself up for the next corner easily.
Put Your Go-kart Cornering Skills to the Test at K1 Speed
If reading about go-kart cornering techniques got you itching for some action, book a race online at Toronto’s K1 Speed go-kart track! Check back often to see when our karting academy is available! K1 Speed Karting Academy is for both beginners and advanced racers and is a great way to learn more about karting and motorsport. You’ll be driving like a pro in no time. See you on the track!