Get By With A little Help From My Friends - Possibly the best karting tips ever!

Daytona TW Steel DMAX Championships  - Round 4

So it has been a little while since I took my place on the grid at the Daytona DMAX champs at Ellough Park. The timing of this slightly belated post is intentional. Due to holiday commitments Round 5 eluded me so this round 4 post is to get myself in the mood for the coming race at Rye House.

As I continue on this journey into my first ever competitive racing I am starting to see a different side of the DMAX Championships. I don’t think I had any preconceived ideas about how the other drivers would behave. I was focused on my own performance, but now I am seeing an amazing level of comradery and support. Of course, when it comes to the racing people are not taking any prisoners and everyone wants to win. But in the paddock, and online, everyone is always happy to have a chat and offer advice. The DMAX facebook group is certainly testament to this it is full of videos, chat and help for fellow drivers.

To test this apparent willingness to aid other drivers I thought I would put a request out to the entire DMAX 2015 group and ask for help and advice. I suggested they based any advice on the videos from my Round 4 races and e mail it over to me. I must say the results were very interesting and very useful. So, in the spirit of this racing altruism I am passing on some of this new found wisdom to all those willing to read it.

Round 4

I think it is prudent to first highlight a few things about Round 4 and make my videos public. As the season goes on there is somewhat of a battle developing between 2 other racers and myself. This has been covered in previous posts but I must say Shane Carrington and Faris Malik are really making the season exciting, and providing some great racing.

 It is a sad fact that I am basically the slowest driver on the grid, but I am getting quicker and I am getting more confident. However, I still make mistakes as the videos show. In some situations I simply get left behind. Ellough Park is new to the DMAX calendar and is a challenging track. There is very little room to overtake, and this played to my favour as I was able to hang on to the odd position a little more easily than usual. Most drivers enjoyed the challenge of a new track, but some felt it was not ideally suited to the DMAX races. I also found traction generally wasn’t forthcoming, certainly in the practice session the day before I simply could not find any grip. It was better on race day but I was still suffering some crushing understeer, especially on turn 2 and 3.

Top Tips

The advice I was so graciously offered came mainly via e mail. I was bowled over by how nice the other drivers were. Some tips came in the form of technical advice other were more motivational, all were useful!

Ben Chapman – This one deserves to be viewed in its entirety, what a lovely message!

I don't profess to be an expert at this karting lark, but here's a couple of thoughts:

1. Your pace looks reasonably good, but you lose a lot of time with small mistakes. Try pushing to 95% of your ability and being consistent, even if it means being a tenth or two slower each lap - it's better than making a mistake every other lap and losing a second....

For me this is the biggest thing as you seem to be able to get corners right one lap then make mistakes next time around. Believe me - I've been there too!!

2. I personally think you miss the apexes in turns two and three a lot, I think a bit if time went missing here. Thus probably relates back to point 1 though, just be a bit calmer and the lap time will come.

3. I think sometimes you could get on the throttle a bit harder / earlier out of slower turns, or keep the revs a bit higher to help pull out of the turns. Believe me that takes a lot of learning and is very much a "feel" thing you'll acquire over'll know when it's right and when it's bogging down a bit!

4. Either defend more or really attack the karts ahead on lap 1!

Finally don't underestimate how good some of these guys are; but equally use that the learn from from them and improve. There are a lot of guys I've seen turn up expecting to win who have gone away disappointed so just aim to do a little better each time and I'm sure you'll get there.

That's coming from someone in their 4th season of DMax who has finally finished on the podium for the first time at Ellough! Just keep pushing and take all the advice people offer; there are a lot of friendly guys in DMax willing to help so use that to your advantage :o)

All the best.
Ben Chapman

Mike Headington – Great advice and from a very experienced racer. What sticks with me here is point 3…

1. The gap to the kart in front was too big at the start. You want and need to be an awful lot closer to him (MSA racing you'll be gently pushing him over the line!)

2. Plan your start and first lap in your head on the dummy grid, think of what you want to do and where you will overtake

3. Be confident. You are entitled to be on the track and you are in control of yourself and the kart

4. Regularly hit those apexes!

5. Don't move your body weight about mid corner. it unsettles the kart and weight distribution

6. Be harder on the brakes. Initially hit them so hard the back begins to try and brake away, forcing you to counter steer. As it begins to do that release pressure on the pedal a small amount

7. Don't be afraid of a 'little' bodywork contact either!

You do appear slightly timid in your driving style, and need to be more aggressive in your mind and defend your right to race and that chosen piece of tarmac. Give a little space but no more. You can't normally win a race at the first corner but many are lost there.

Ben Leslie – Ben is the photographer for Daytona and is in his 4th DMAX season. Regularly gets podiums and offered a great deal of advice. Here are some snippets;

Judging driving style and lines is quite difficult from the video but the most obvious thing is the lack of tyre noise so you're simply not pushing the kart hard enough.  When the tyres do give a bit of a squeak it tends to be at the apex, this means you're working the kart its hardest at the apex when, by that time you should be thinking about the straight, starting to unwind the steering and unloading the tyres.

In heat 2 it seems you have no grip for approx 3 laps but after that it starts to look pretty good - watching heat 3 you seem to do very little tyre warming - some drivers weave quite aggressively on the straights; I use the straights for braking and accelerating to hopefully get heat in the rears, I've spun a couple of times in the past weaving on the straights - I use the corners to try and get some understeer to warm up the fronts. Driving more aggressively in general should also get the tyres warmer, faster and help you go faster.

At the start know where you want to be through the first corners - it's almost always best to be on the inside but you seem pretty content in each heat to be on the outside.  Of course the outside can work but if someone else makes a mistake they'll be heading towards the outside, if you're on the inside it's easier to move to the outside, the grip is usually on the inside, the inside is shorter, it stops people making an easy pass etc.

I was swamped with advice and offer from other drivers like David Vincent and others. This new found support has made the TW Steel Daytona DMAX Championships even more fun. It has taken something I enjoyed massively and turned into something I absolutely love.

Lessons Learned

What is the overall take home points? Well firstly it seems I need to man up! I have a right to sit on that grid as much as anyone else and I need to be confident in that. The same goes for going into turn 1, I must hold my ground. Generally it seems I need to push the kart harder, brake later and heavier, get on the throttle earlier and turn in harder, I’m sure there is a theme here!

Since I started the DMAX Championships I have certainly learnt a lot and I have become a much better driver. I am braver, faster and stronger but I have so much further to go and with the support and help that surrounds everyone on the DMAX circuit I have no doubt I will get there. Thanks everyone!

Oh….where did I finish? Well last but not in the overall points and there is still lots more races to come!

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At Motor Heads we appreciate every opinion! except SPAM! Comments are moderated, so if you want to link to your motoring site please ensure its relevant to the conversation, otherwise your comment will be removed.

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