Beginning a go karting race in the right way is vital. Sometimes all the overtaking in the world won’t be enough to make up for a really terrible start. A good first lap can be the key to a podium finish, so here’s some advice on making this happen.
Firstly, you need to adopt a positive frame of mind. Starting a race can be nerve racking for new drivers who might not know what to expect, but also for experience racers who understand the importance of getting away quickly. You need to learn to use nerves to your advantage; getting your adrenaline pumping can help you make the decisions that can mean the difference between a good start and getting stuck in the middle of the field.
Imagining how your first lap might unfold is a useful tactic. Your position on the starting grid will probably be determined by qualifying times taken on practice laps prior to the main race. This will give you an indication of the challenge you’ll be facing. If you’re stuck near the back you might want to make a plan to get into the middle of the field by the end of lap one, whereas if you’re starting in first place you’ll want to safely maintain this position without taking any risks.
It might sound like a cliche, but practice makes perfect. If you’ve been putting plenty of time into training, you’ll notice a marked improvement in your average lap times. However, replicating the conditions of a real race in practice is quite difficult. A solution to this is to invite some friends down to your local indoor race track and have a series of short races to get used to the sort of quick decisions you need to make when the green lights flash. This will also help you get used to feeling comfortable and relaxed in your go kart despite the stress of the frantic starting grid.
Often karting races begin with a rolling lap, where drivers complete an averagely paced lap before the proper contest begins. You can’t overtake your competitors on a rolling lap, but it’s important to stick as close as you can to the kart in front. Don’t worry about exchanging a few bumps, just focus on being ready to put your plan into action. This will also put you in a great position to push on and accelerate as soon as the full race gets underway. Stepping on the gas straight away is really important and as long as you’re already close to the kart in front you won’t be in any danger of causing a collision.