And Rule 8: Stay on the track!
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7 mistakes that all novice karters make (and how to avoid them)

Learning the ropes in karting? Here's your definitive guide to swerve the most common pitfalls and nail those lap times.
Written by Piers Prior
4 min readPublished on
Whether you’ve been karting once or a hundred times, part of the thrill is being encouraged to go as fast as you possibly can.
Driving a kart, however, is very different to driving your everyday car, and there are some common mistakes which will hinder your speed. Avoid these traps and you’ll be sure to beat your fellow karters – or even create a solid base on which to build your motor-racing career.

Hold the wheel the right way

Unlike in a car, karts have sensitive steering, so it’s important to keep your hands at the ‘quarter to three’ position. This will give you more precise control over the kart and you’ll be able to react to slides much quicker.
Keep your hands at 'quarter to three' at all times

Keep your hands at 'quarter to three' at all times

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Brake hard – not softly!

Kart brakes act on the rear wheels only. The best way to brake in a kart is by hitting the brakes hard initially so they almost lock, then as you get closer to the apex, gradually and smoothly release your brakes. More advanced drivers might want to try ‘trail braking’, a method to help you find an extra few tenths.

Wait for the turn

Turning into corners too early is a mistake that novices and even experienced drivers can often make. If you find yourself going wide on a corner exit or you’re losing speed out of the corners, try slowing the kart down a little more before you turn and aim for a later apex. If you get the entry right, you should be able to accelerate at the apex of the corner without running wide at the exit.

Use all of the track

You can use as much of the track as you like and utilising every centimetre of the tarmac will increase your speed. The wider you take each corner – by being at the circuit’s edge on entry and exit – and the closer you take the exit, the easier it will be to carry more speed.
Use as much of the track as you legally can

Use as much of the track as you legally can

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Don't steer too aggressively

In a kart, precision is the key to being fast; being smooth across the track will make this much easier. Many inexperienced drivers will turn the steering wheel sharply, causing the front to slide. Known as understeer, this is when the kart will feel as if it wants to move in a straight line. When turning a kart, apply the steering smoothly and gradually to keep your lap times up.

Keep looking a few metres ahead

Climbing into the kart for the first time can be nerve-wracking for some. Karts are extremely low to the ground and this makes everything feel twice as fast. Make this easier by looking only a few metres ahead at any time. Try looking one stage ahead of where you are. When braking, look at the apex; then, at the apex, look at the exit; at the exit, spot the next corner. It makes a big difference.

Concentrate on your own performance

Even if an F1 driver's behind you, don't panic!

Even if an F1 driver's behind you, don't panic!

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A karting track can be an intimidating place for new drivers and seeing experienced drivers race past you at what may seem like impossibly high speeds might make you nervous. Firstly, remember they’ve been doing it longer than you and that, one day, with practise, you can be as fast as they are. Until then, focus on your own driving and let them pass you. You will be much more predictable and easier to pass if you’re doing your own thing. This will also help you work out where you are losing time to the faster drivers and improve your own driving even quicker.

Remember these tips if you want to be quick on the kart track…

  1. Keep your hands securely in the ‘quarter-to-three’ position
  2. Brake hard to the point where the wheels are almost locking, then smoothly release them
  3. Don't turn in too early
  4. Use every available centimetre of the track
  5. Steer smoothly
  6. Look one stage ahead of you at all times – if you’re at the apex, look at the exit
  7. Don’t worry about faster drivers – stick to your line and try to see where and why they’re faster than you.