If You Want to Win Karting Events....You Need to Know How to Brake
How to Earn Your Title as the Karting 'Last of the Late Brakers
How do I learn to brake like those flash Super 1 karters?
This is where you're going to get the answers you need. And in my usual tradition I'm going to give you nice'n'easy step-by-step instructions.
Braking like a Karting Superstar
One thing I used to marvel at as a young kart racer was the way top class drivers used to drift into corners like they were effortlessly floating around the circuit. Then I would try it out myself and completely mess it up. I had no idea why they were doing it or how to do it, just that it looked cool.
Trail Braking- It Looks Cool but What's the Point?
The reason why drivers have the rear of the kart sliding into corners is because they are using a technique called trail braking, which allows you to brake a bit later and deeper into a corner. So, the point is that you can get around a track faster by braking later without losing exit speed.
Here's how to do it:-
First you need to understand a bit about how kart tyres work. If you imagine that a tyre can only provide so much grip, let's call that 100% grip, then you would want to use 100% grip for maximum braking, then 100% grip for maximum cornering speed. Normally you will brake for a corner, come off the brake, turn in and then accelerate away. Generally people will tell you that braking and turning together will cause you to spin, because if you are using 100% grip for braking, there isn't any left for cornering, sounds like good advice right? Well it's not as simple as that because there are parts of a corner between hitting the brakes and the apex when you can be turning and braking at the same time. If you visualise this situation then you will understand how it works.
Imagine you are belting down the straight into a tight corner, you brake a bit later than usual and you still need to slow down more as you reach your turn in point. You know you will spin if you are still hard on the brakes when you turn in, BUT you still have to turn in!
Here's what you do, you come off the brakes a little and turn in, the cornering grip required of the tyre isn't maximum yet because you aren't turning very sharply at the early stages of the corner, let's say you are using 60% of your grip- That leaves 40% of your grip to use on braking.
So you can carry on braking into the corner, gradually easing off the brake as you turn more sharply. What you will find is that you will be blending your braking into the corner with your cornering and then blending in the throttle as you exit. If you are looking ahead as described in a previous lesson your mind will be way ahead and you probably won't even notice how cool you look to spectators!
This technique does require practice, and you will probably spin a few times, but it is definitely worth the trouble because it means you will become a genuine 'Last of the Late Brakers'. And doesn't every racer want that title?