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How to Stop Getting Stuck behind slower drivers, and how to Overtake Any Driver you want

by Terence Dove

Are you finding that you don't get the results that your lap times say you deserve? Do you find you catch drivers easily and get stuck behind them way too long? Would you like to blast past drivers first chance?

I get so many emails from drivers who find it hard to overtake and even more from parents who are going nuts watching their driver sit behind slower karts, and the problem is that everybody thinks that they should be more aggressive, more courageous, and if they can't break through this overtaking problem then they may as well pack in Karting.

Well I'm here to say this:-

1) For God's sake don't give up racing, because you will always regret it and this problem isn't so difficult to solve
2) Learning to overtake is a step-by-step process, you don't need to be more aggressive or change your personality

You just need to know the secrets of overtaking and braking and to practice them. Then you can order a nice new cabinet for all the trophies you're going to win!

What is it that Stops Drivers Overtaking?

Well it's quite simple….fear takes up all the concentration you have. Fear of what will happen, will I collide? Will I spin? Will I go wide? etc. When you go to overtake another driver, there is extra pressure, you are on a part of the track which you wouldn't normally be on so your visual perspective is different. So, your brain kicks in with basic survival reactions and goes into self-preservation mode. Perfectly normal and logical behaviour too! So, you decide not to take the risk, since diving into the unknown simply isn't worth the trouble, and you let yourself off and decide to try again later.

Now, most people would assume that it's a good idea to beat fear by force, for example force yourself or your driver to be brave…just close your eyes and do it etc. Well, all this achieves is to frighten the driver even more, to the point where they dread driving and will avoid getting close to other drivers, to avoid feeling scared in the first place. It also causes a lot of arguments and bad feeling, which turns Karting from the most fun you can have, to quite a tedious activity.

So, that's enough of how not to do things, let's get on to answer the problem.

How to Fix a Driver's Overtaking and Braking Problems…Step-by-Step

If you want to make overtaking easy you need to remove the fear factor as much as possible. When you are worried about spinning or crashing, all your concentration is taken up trying to avoid crashing, and you have none left over to drive a Kart fast and make overtaking manoeuvres.

To get rid of the fear that you will spin or crash, you just need to learn the how to brake and overtake step-by-step- once you do this you won't remember even having a problem in the first place!

Superstar Braking

OK, the most obvious overtaking move is to out-brake the opposition into a tight corner after a straight. So, step one of the overtaking master class is to become an expert on the brakes.

When you brake in a Kart you have to hit the pedal hard and fast, not gently and gradually like in a car. You have to hit the pedal in a flash, so that the tyres almost lock up, and give you a sweet chirpy sound when they bite. Be ready for the Kart to kick sideways, and release the pressure slightly to control the rear as you start to turn in. You will find yourself trail braking into the corner and believe me, the grin factor in mastering this is fantastic!

Now, you will need to brake too hard and lock up to find the limit, and then brake a tiny bit less hard than that. So instead of scaring yourself, brake earlier than normal to get a feel for how hard you can brake without feeling like you are in danger. Then once you have mastered braking real hard, try braking from your original braking point, then brake even later once you are confident in your control. And do use a braking point, find marks on or beside the track, this is essential because otherwise you won't be able to tell whether it's working!

Now you are braking as late as anyone can, and you are able to control the Kart on its braking limit…you will feel loads more confidence in yourself and your Kart, and people will really notice the difference.

Out-Braking Other Drivers - A Step into the Unknown

When you are on the inside of another driver ready to overtake, you might not be able to see your braking point….or you might think because you are on a tight line it's too risky to brake so late. So what you need to do is practice using an overtaking line. It's simple - approach the corner as if you are overtaking and find new marks on the track as braking points. Do this over and over until you can slide the Kart into the corner, all crossed up and in all sorts of trouble….slide wide, spin, hit the kerb or whatever.

Eventually you will learn where you can brake when on the inside line and be able to get round the corner. That way, you will know exactly what you are doing in the real situation. When you are on the inside of another kart you will know how late you can brake, how much grip there will be, and how wide your exit line will be. There will be nothing to be afraid of because you will have seen it all before.

Don't Focus on the Other Driver….Focus on the Gap

This is the key to pulling off wild looking overtaking manoeuvres, which other drivers will marvel at, and it is relatively simple. When you are driving you will drive where you look. This can work to help you, or can really mess you up. Have you ever watched another Kart spin and find yourself watching it until you almost hit it!

I have, and in fact I did hit it…a few times! That is an example of me driving where I was looking. So in an overtaking situation, you will notice that your brain will want you to look at the other kart so you won't hit it. This makes you jump into self-preservation mode and usually you will back off, or turn in way too early.

Now, to take advantage of this phenomenon you have to look, yes physically look with your eyes, to where you want the Kart to go.

So next time you want to overtake, look into the gap between the kerb and the driver you want to pass. Force yourself to stare into that gap, and if you are braking into a hairpin say, actually drive the Kart into that gap, even let off the brake a little extra and keep looking into the gap. I promise you that you will get past the driver if you do this, maybe he will get back past on exit, but you can fine tune your line next time to stop that.

So, don't forget….look into the gap, choose a point on the kerb to focus on and aim for it, look for it and leave the other driver to worry about avoiding you….because when you come steaming through you can bet he will be watching you, and loosing his concentration!

That's it, overtaking feels very natural when you follow these steps and driving a Kart becomes even more exciting and fun. So give it a try and get hold of me if you have any questions. My contact details are at the end of this article.

Terence Dove
EvenFlow Kart Driver Coaching

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