A lot of kart drivers will try to avoid wet weather at all costs due to how tricky the conditions can be. However, karting in the rain can be incredibly fun and rewarding when you know how to come out on top. But to do that, you need to know some handy tips for go-kart wet driving.
6 tips & techniques for driving a go-kart in the wet are:
- Seek the new racing line
- Steer with confidence
- Use some throttle in the corners
- Avoid wheelspin
- Be careful with your braking
- Use the kerbs
Below, we’ll go through each of these tips in more detail, and provide some additional advice to help you get the most out of your go-kart when you’re driving in the wet. But first, we’ll talk about some things to bear in mind before your kart hits the wet track in the first place.
How To Prepare For Go-Karting In The Rain
Above any tip or technique I can give about the actual driving of the kart, the way you prepare yourself and your kart for a wet weather race is of paramount importance.
I’ve been part of many wet weather races, whether they were predicted or spontaneous developments. Every race I was part of meant that I could improve my preparation, and now I wouldn’t go to any track without all of my wet weather gear! Even if the forecast is for blue skies, you never know when you’ll need to drop everything and get set for a downpour on track.
So that you don’t have to suffer as I have over the years for being woefully underprepared, here’s a checklist of everything you’ll need to prepare for wet weather races.
Slick tires that we use for dry races don’t get any traction on a wet track, so wet tires with their tread and ability to displace water are the only option for achieving grip. Without them, you’ll be spinning in place or crashing on most corners. Always carry a set or two with you when going to races.
Have you ever been soaking wet in a go-kart race suit without the ability to get dry? I have, and it’s neither fun nor comfortable! In wet weather races, you won’t just have to compete with the rain, as you’ll be encountering spray from the backs of your opponents’ karts too!
In short, if you don’t have a set of wet weather overalls to put on, you’ll be soaked to the skin in no time. It’s uncomfortable and miserable and you just won’t be racing at your best, so don’t chance it, and invest in a good wet weather karting suit.
Alright, so you’ve got a pair of kart racing boots. Chances are, they aren’t exactly waterproof, and you’ll soon end up with sodden socks complemented by freezing cold feet. I’d really urge you to splash out an extra $50 or so for wet weather racing shoes.
You can get them from almost any kart gear brand and they might be called ‘cold weather boots’ or ‘all-weather boots,’ but the purpose is the same. They’re waterproofed for maximum comfort and have grippy soles to make sure your feet aren’t slipping around on the pedals.
Wet Weather Visor
Most SNELL-approved helmets have to meet pretty rigorous standards when it comes to how their visors de-mist. The last thing you need in already-poor visibility is a visor that gets clouded over from condensation!
Make sure to fully open the vents on your helmet, and invest in a special wet weather visor too. Its main advantage is how quickly it disperses water from the surface, and it makes a huge improvement to your visibility.
6 Tips & Techniques For Driving A Go-Kart In The Wet
1. Seek The New Racing Line
The most important difference between karting in the rain and karting in the wet is how your tires interact with the track surface. Go-kart tires are made out of rubber compounds due to the grip they can provide on asphalt surfaces. And with the tires actually acting as part of the ‘suspension’ mechanisms of the kart, they have to be pretty sturdy.
However, when water meets rubber, most of that grip disappears. A go-kart track, and any racing track for that matter, has rubber laid on it where the racing line is located, thanks to the countless laps put in by many drivers. While this provides lots of grip in the dry, the rubbered-in surface becomes an ice rink when it’s wet.
When rain pours down, the previous racing line with its rubber-laid visibility will be more harm than good to follow. I can’t give you a definitive answer for where the new racing line will be when the track is wet, so that falls down to practice and some trial and error! Try to follow faster drivers to learn the new line, and otherwise stay off the rubbered-in line.
2. Steer With Confidence
A lot of people assume that strong steering inputs will be a detriment in the rain, what with how easily skids can happen. However, once you’ve found traction in your kart, don’t hesitate and take your turns with positive steering inputs. All that means is to keep your steering smooth and consistent, not snatching or incrementally adding/reducing lock.
3. Use Some Throttle In The Corners
Another strange-sounding technique, but this actually applies to normal kart driving too. Wet weather takes away all normal traction and the rear axle will want to lock, so some feathering on the gas will help direct your kart where you want it to go in tight corners.
4. Avoid Wheelspin
Once you’ve found your new racing line and start to gain confidence in the wet, it’s easy to fall back into dry track habits. This’ll cause wheelspin and you’ll lose a lot of race time. You won’t be using flat-out throttle in the wet, simply because you’ll risk losing traction if there’s standing water on the track surface.
5. Be Careful With Your Braking
As with the racing line, all of the regular braking points/zones will be different when there’s water on the track. Steer clear of the rubbered-in track areas and brake with slow, purposeful pressure. Lift slowly, and use a feathering of the throttle to help direct the kart while you steer. Too much or too little braking is extra catastrophic in wet weather, so get plenty of practice!
6. Use The Kerbs
More so than in the dry, using kerbs in the wet is a valuable technique to steady the kart and guarantee a steady line through corners. The best technique using kerbs is called hooking, and it involves dropping your inside wheels overtop of the kerb and using this anchor point to pull the kart around. This is best for tight corners like hairpins where grip is harder to come by.
Go-karting in the wet isn’t something you should dread, and the tips above will help ensure you’re ready to race when the rain starts falling. Above all, the best tool in your kit to combat wet weather on the track is practice. Diving in too deep to begin with will only end in disaster, and it’s always best to be on the cautious side while you build confidence in rainy weather.
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