How To Win (Nearly) Every Race
In motorsport, there can only be one winner…
So, whilst there’s always an element of luck (even for the most talented drivers), it pays to know some useful tips to get yourself on top of that podium!
We’ve put together the top 5 traits all race winners have in common:
Being ‘one of’ the fastest.
There’s no getting around this one – it almost always helps to have some speed behind the wheel if you want to win.
When you’re karting on an indoor circuit (where overtaking is more difficult) qualifying performance is key, as starting near the front gives you a much higher chance of finishing on top.
However, you don’t need to be ‘the’ fastest driver. If you can overtake and defend a position well, you can keep yourself at the front without needing to set record breaking times.
Ever watched the Monaco GP? F1 teams go all-out to get their driver to the front of the grid in qualifying (often sacrificing some race pace), knowing that defending a high position in the race is going to be a little easier on a tighter track.
Getting fast is usually a matter of practice – we offer open Timed Practice sessions for drivers to hone their skills, and our Members events are a great way to pit your skills and learn from more experienced drivers.
Timing your overtakes – and knowing when to defend.
Overtaking is simple, right? Just get past as soon as you can, and keep trying if your first move doesn’t work.
That’s not always the best strategy. Overtaking usually means following a less-than-optimal line, so a good overtake will cost a little time, whilst a botched overtake can cost a lot of time. This may allow your opponents to gain an advantage.
You need to plan carefully for the cleanest possible overtake – sometimes that might mean following for a few laps to get a little breathing space from any drivers who may be behind you.
Defending follows a similar logic. If you defend too much, you’ll sacrifice laptimes and allow the rest of the field to catch up, putting yourself under more pressure.
A good driver will know when to get their head down, set those faster times and pull away – and when to vigorously defend their position to the end.
Playing the ‘long’ game is important when overtaking and defending to be able to win consistently.
If you’ve got the first two nailed, then it’s time to talk repetition.
It may be great to boast you’re the fastest person on the track, but that will mean nothing to your ability to win if you can only string together one fast lap in ten.
You need to be consistent (not necessarily the fastest) in producing decent times, lap-after-lap to stay near/at the front and put pressure on your opponents.
This takes a lot of focus and discipline. If you’re a fan of F1, you’ll notice in recent years how ex-champ Sebastian Vettel is often outperformed by current champ Lewis Hamilton by sheer consistency and focus – even in times where Seb had arguably faster equipment and better luck.
Knowing the rules.
It should go without saying, but the best drivers should know the rules inside out.
This not only means you’ll stay out of trouble (nobody ever won a race from the sin bin), but it also means you’re in a position to take advantage of rules that work in your favour.
We often find race leaders putting themselves out of contention by forgetting something simple.
For example, if you’re approaching a backmarker who is about receive a blue flag (an instruction to move right and let the race leader pass), overtaking on the wrong side would likely put you in the wall and cost you the win.
In an endurance race, understanding the pitstop procedure thoroughly can gain your team several seconds if you pit at the right point (i.e. not behind another team), and choose a winning strategy that keeps your team out of traffic and prioritises your fastest drivers.
We’ve highlighted mental focus, but physical fitness also plays a huge part.
You might have the very best racing driver instincts, but if your body isn’t willing to carry out instructions from your brain, it’s hard to stay at the front.
Serious racers nearly always have a fitness regime in place to keep them in top shape for racing. This enables them to replicate fast laps over an extended period.
Karting is a physically demanding sport, and your core strength, neck, shoulders and arms will all be pushed to the max. If you’re in good shape, the exertion required to keep you at the front won’t be something that will hold you back – even if your rivals are struggling.
That’s not to say you can’t be a winner if you’re not an athlete, but it certainly helps!