One of the advantages of karting, is the copious access to practice time that you can get compared to other motorsports. Most kart tracks are owned by clubs, so the entry fees are affordable enough for racers to get more seat time.
You’re going to need to have a plan of how to best maximize your time, if you’re going to take advantage of that extra seat time . Below are some quick tips about how to have a more effective practice day the next time that you’re out at the track karting.
- Get a setup book for your kart…and use it often. – Having a log book is one of the most useful things that you can do in karting, period. A good setup book will allow you to track the changes and notes that you capture about your kart during practice days and races. Over time, you’ll start to notice trends in your notes, which will help you dictate what type of setup choices to make. (“At this track, when it was hot out, we ran the tire pressures at 12psi and the kart handles great!”)
- Take note of everything that you find to be useful during the practice day. From alignment changes and tire pressures, to what your mental state has been throughout the day. Use your setup book to take notes early and often. Get used to having it at your side at the track at all times.
- Pro Tip- If you have a friend/partner/girlfriend/wife, etc who would like to join you at the track while you’re driving and wants something to do, they can be in charge of taking the setup notes for the kart! It’s easy, and lets them learn more about your sport.
- Here is a link to a very basic setup guide to get started Personally, I think that it’s great for people to create a setup sheet that works best for them, but this will get you started.
- Set a simple agenda for your practice day… and always follow it – Just driving around all day isn’t going to really help you. The best practice days are when the driver has a focused objective of what they are planning to work on for that day, or group of days.
- Limit yourself to a maximum of three things that you’re planning to work on that day, in order to keep things organized. Keep the objectives simple, so that it’s easy to remember what you should be working on. (IE: “I’m going to focus on my braking into turn nine.” Or “ I’m only going to make notes on front alignment changes today.”, etc)
- Focus on the process of what you’re doing, not just the lap times you’re running. – A good lap is the result of quality techniques that have been practiced repeatedly. Just focusing on lap time, can be a very mis-leading objective for a practice day.
- Laptime can vary each day, by various number of factors- The state of the track, how worn your tires are, etc. Focus on being consistent with your technique, and doing something correctly first. Be able to hit the same laptime within half a second per lap, no matter what the time is. Then after you feel like you’re doing it right, then start looking at reducing the laptimes.
- It’s important to focus on doing something properly first, so that you don’t practice learning a poor technique.
- Feel comfortable with trying new things with the kart setup, even if it makes the laptime slower. –Sometimes it’s important to know what’s not working, as much as what is working well.
- When making setup changes, feel comfortable by testing the extremes of a setup, so you know how the kart wants to handle. Make sure to use your setup book to log those changes, especially when they make a ‘negative’ change. You never know when that information will come in handy. What might not work well making your kart fast for one track, may be useful for another one.
Practice days are the most useful if you’re prepared to get the maximum out of them. Come up with a simple plan, execute it and take notes. If you follow these steps, you’ll be on your way.
If you’re interested about getting good setup note templates and etc, just email or reach out to me on Twitter and I can help you.