Tuesday 18 June 2013

Bring on the rain

PF at the weekend - nobody knew what track conditions would be for any session.

This is the new norm for summer karting - dry track with blue sky, and a huge rain storm closing in fast!

In conditions like this you are never on the right tyres, and you never have the right set up.  If you are on wets the track is drying too fast, if you are on slicks have you got the pressures right etc.  A nightmare for the mechanic, and a dream scenario for drivers who are confident they excel in difficult track conditions.

This is exactly the type of situation that highlights what your state of mind is.  Do your pre-race nerves create a feeling of anxiety and doubt, or do you feel psyched up?

If you want to feel psyched up with a 'bring it on' attitude, here's some help.

Get off the rubber
Heavy braking areas are coated with rubber, when you approach a braking zone put your kart on a different part of the track when braking.  Usually down the inside is good enough.

Minimise time that lateral grip is needed
Drive lines that minimise the time spent actually driving the kart in an arc.  For any given corner you need to maximise the time spent driving a straight line, especially when braking or accelerating.

Maximise straight line braking
For hairpins you can brake in a straight line, turning and braking will be treacherous.  For medium speed approach corners, (eg the esses at PF or oblivion at Whilton Mill) you can brake gently in a straight line and make the apex by aiming the kart straight at the apex very early.  

Maximise time in traction
Plot your corner exits in order to maximise the time spent getting maximum exit traction.  Extreme cut back lines apply, where you straight line the exit as much as possible.

Use herbs
Some kerbs that you wouldn't dream of using in the dry are essential in the wet.  When you are trying to drive in straight lines you will need to cut a lot of corners.  Be prepared to scrape the bottom of your kart and upset the mechanic!

Be prepared to use maximum steering lock
Karts are awful when the track doesn't supply the required grip to make the chassis lift the inside rear wheel. You may need to force the kart to work by using the maximum steering lock. Some guys will never have turned the wheel so far, so in the wet dont be afraid to turn the steering as far as it will go when needed.

Eliminate wheelspin
Wheelspin is the ultimate enemy of the karter facing slippery conditions.  Each wheelspin incident costs you about half a second.  So, your meaning of life is to exit corners without letting the rear wheels break traction.

Minimise rear sliding
When you allow the rear wheels to slide mid corner, you then have a much harder time exiting the corner without wheelspin.  Plan all your cornering in a way that allows you to exit without wheelspin.

Example approach wet  PF 'esses'. Beware, track conditions are organic - nothing is set in stone!

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