A Breakdown and analysis of the 6hp fast lap running 29.0s through turn 1
Turn 1 is a decreasing radius turn, which can be deceiving and complex. It is hard to establish an arrow straight line for a straight line brake, so trail braking is the norm.
As a coach at Sykart I find the most common problem for turn 1 is that people just come in too Hot and Too fast. Newcomers to training are usually shocked to find out just how early I actually brake and to discover just how soft I actually brake. My thinking is that you want to gently transition the weight to the front of the kart, and you can’t afford to unsettle the kart, this gives you greater traction and control in the middle of the turn. Getting on earlier, softer and gradually is key.
The biggest mistake on turn 1 is to try and come charging in like a boss, as hot and deep as you can and try to pull off a super late brake. You might seem fast and catch people on the entry, but you will surely lose them by turn 2. Drivers that do this, also overshoot turn 2, 3, 4, 7 and 8. If you are a new driver, just slow down more on the entry, get stability in the middle, and you can power out on the next straight.
Most drivers tend to enter turn 1 way too wide, thinking they need a wide entry for a corner, but the close proximity of turn 2 and the low horsepower and high traction of the corner means that the fast line is actually to come in mid track or tighter, because there is no benefit to sacrificing the entry for a fast exit into turn 2. What are you going to do with all that extra exit speed? Just make a hot entry into a tight right hander?
The driver on the tighter line actually travels a shorter circumference about 5 meters shorter distance at a speed of about 5 meters per second, meanwhile because turn 1 is off camber and bumpy any driver who tries to take it wide finds themselves unable to hold the back end down, so any potential gain of speed is lost anyway, and they end up losing as much as 0.500 to a full second to the driver on the tighter line.
You can over do this idea, so you don’t want to come in too tight or come in too flat so there is a sweet spot for sure, in the the video below I run over turn 1, and give commentary in slow motion and stop frame, from my Go Pro practice sessions during a fast lap, using the same technique and thinking that gets me into the low 29’s @ 210lb during races in the 6.5hp karts.
Also rather than use brake pressures to adjust speed for the turn, I try to brake at a consistent pressure and use distance to control the speed of entry. In this way if you want to travel faster through the turn, THEN you brake later, or if you think you need to slow down more, then you brake earlier.
After training sessions I like to leave cones on all the corners to mark brake and turn in points, so look for those when you go to the track. The idea is to brake when your front wheels line up with the cones.
In a low powered indoor kart, when racing against the pros, tighter lines are usually faster, but how do you get a kart that might be sliding already, even with no gas at all, to stick and hold steady through an even tighter line? it can be done.
My goal is to teach you how this works, and how you can develop your own sensitivity to it, so you can apply it.
It is one thing to be reasonably fast and above average, but my goal is to help you become ridiculously fast, anywhere, on any track, under any conditions.
So why the blip on the gas just before the apex you may wonder?
This is an advanced concept, but it has to do with weight transfer.
Because we have come in on the brakes with some steering input, we are actually in a trail brake. This has put a lot of weight onto the front wheels, which is great for getting front bite, and for lifting the inside rear, which are all things we want to do to rotate a go kart, but now we are in a situation where we cant immediately accelerate because we have too much weight to the front and not enough on the back.
If we just blast the gas here, then with no weight yet in the rear end, the back will just fly out and we will slide. Which creates a new set of problems, now the back end is planted flat and we will be in a ‘bind’ situation which causes the kart to behave in the exit of the turn like it has the brake stuck on. It’s very slow.
Most advanced drivers solve this problem by …