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4 Go-Kart Racing Cornering Tips To Help You Go Faster

Cornering properly in a go-kart takes a lot of practice. It doesn’t matter whether you turn up at a karting track every so often with friends, or find yourself at tracks every weekend for races, as following some basic go-kart racing cornering tips will help you go faster round the track.

Our 4 go-kart racing cornering tips are:

  1. Learn to pick braking points
  2. Take a wide corner entry
  3. Have smooth, controlled steering inputs
  4. Always look where you want to go

Below, we will go into more detail about each of these go-kart cornering tips so that you can become a faster racer on the track. Read on for things that I have learned through hard practice, and hopefully see your lap times improve!

A person driving a red CRG racing go-kart around a track in Germany with grass and tire walls in the background, Go-Kart Racing Cornering Tips

4 Go-Kart Racing Cornering Tips

1. Learn To Pick Braking Points

The proper place to start braking and where best to enter the corner are the most important things to know when you’re approaching it. Now, both of these points will differ depending on the track, but there are a few things to remember as a general rule that you can practice until it becomes second nature.

To ensure that you get a good idea of this before a race or anything of the sort, make the most of some preliminary laps around the circuit so you can experiment and find some visible markers you can use as prompts for when to brake specifically.

It Sets Up The Rest Of The Corner

The importance of braking at the right point isn’t simply a matter of shedding speed, as it is instead essential to remember that where you brake will set up the rest of the corner.

If you brake too soon before the corner, you will not have enough speed to carry you through and you will have to get back on the gas. This can disrupt the smoothness of motion you should be aiming for and can unbalance the kart.

And if you brake too late, you’ll have far too much speed, which will likely carry you past the corner’s apex and lead to a spin and otherwise loss of control. Both of these extremes will also make it difficult for you to remain on the correct racing line, resulting in even more lost speed.

2. Take A Wide Corner Entry

When entering a corner, you should always be on the far side of where the corner actually is (i.e. away from the apex), and you will steer towards the corner to hit the apex. This line will lessen the amount of steering angle you need and how much you need to slow down, effectively allowing you to corner faster. This is also how F1 drivers take corners, along with those in other branches of motorsport.

Once you hit the apex, you should always gradually release the steering on the kart and allow it to drift back out to the far side of the track. This way, if you were to trace a line on the corner including entry and exit, you should see a slightly curved line as opposed to something that sharply follows the bend all the way around.

Shifter Karts

If you’re driving a shifter kart then you have an extra piece of the puzzle to worry about when approaching the corner, and that involves which gear you should take to perform the corner. This will depend on the type of corner you’re dealing with, as S-bends are often completed with higher speed and hairpins need a great reduction in power.

3. Have Smooth, Controlled Steering Inputs

Throughout the entire corner, from entry to exit, you need to have smooth and controlled steering inputs. This will allow to take the fastest line through the corner with maximum grip, as jerky steering movements will unsettle the kart and make you lose traction.

This is an important aspect of cornering in all branches of motorsport, and it’s vital to maintain predictable weight transfer across the body of the vehicle as you approach, enter, and exit the corner. This will come with practice, but if you can smoothen out your steering inputs, you’ll be able to corner much faster and with more confidence.

4. Always Look Where You Want To Go

Just like you need to be looking and planning ahead for the best way to enter a corner, you always need to be looking ahead upon taking the corner itself. You shouldn’t ever really look at the corner’s apex after you’ve taken the line of entry and should instead be looking beyond that, to where you’ll be exiting across the track.

Look at where you want to go, not at what you want to avoid! Your eyes are powerful tools that will influence your body into tunnel-vision, so you have to make a conscious effort to keep looking ahead even when taking a tricky corner.

You Need To Be Aware

This is not only an essential point to keep a smooth, consistent drive, but it will train you to be aware of other drivers on the track as well. If you fixate on the corner’s apex, you’ll likely be unaware of other people in karts around you taking the same corner.

Watching the lines and techniques of other drivers is also a vital part of learning, so looking ahead can be useful in other ways too. You always need to be thinking of what is coming up next so you can best prepare!

How The Conditions Affect Go-Kart Cornering

When karting outdoors, you always have to be aware of the elements as being something to contend with. Driving a go-kart in the rain can be miserable if you don’t have the proper waterproofed gear, but it also changes braking and entry points if the track is appropriately soaked.

Braking Earlier

The grip you would normally have while the track is dry is lost when it rains, so you need to start braking for corners earlier than you normally would to properly reduce your speed and minimize the risk of any aquaplaning that may happen if there is standing water around.

Your entry line and racing lines are still important, but you might have to change them to avoid puddles. Often the rubber that’s been laid down on the racing line in the dry can become exceptionally slippery in the wet, meaning you might actually want to avoid the normal racing line. This won’t always be the case, but I’ve been in many a water-logged race where the racing line was more treacherous than anywhere else.

Changing Your Camber

Another aspect of cornering that can greatly affect your performance is the kart’s camber. This is simply changed by moving the kingpin bolt or stub axle inward or outward, and this small adjustment will create negative or positive camber.

Shifting the bolt inward makes negative camber and this helps with achieving better straight-line speed due to the reduced roll resistance, but it can compromise your ability to corner as reactively as positive camber allows you to.

Moving the bolt outwards creates more tire patch on the track, leading to better grip albeit wearing tires out a little quicker and in some cases reducing your top speeds. Each camber alignment has its benefits and will differ dependent on the chassis type, but it’s recommended to keep a neutral camber for the best all-round performance of your kart.

If you arrive at the track when it’s pouring rain, however, a positive camber will help with keeping the rig grounded when taking corners.

Final Thoughts

Cornering in a racing go-kart is all about smooth steering inputs and picking your entry and braking points effectively. When you consciously think of where you need to be braking and where your entry point is going to be, you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll start do this instinctively even if you go to a track you’ve never seen before.