An Introduction to Race Strategy
A sense of race strategy comes quickly and naturally to some go kart drivers. For others, however, it is a skill that requires constant, conscious improvement. Many drivers find mocking up racing scenarios with other go karting friends particularly useful when seeking to work on their strategy. Imaging and visualising various racing situations can also be helpful. But what do you need to consider when it comes to devising a race strategy? When should you listen to your head and when should you allow instinct to kick in?
Consider important skills and race stagesPart of the difficulty of getting to grips with racing strategy is the fact that it requires the driver to multitask, keeping several things in mind at once. In the course of one race, you will need to think about how to prepare for and carry out an effective start, how to tackle and time the track’s corners, which points to break at and how hard and who to overtake, when and how. You will also have to think about how to modify your driving style and strategy to suit the track’s surface and to make allowance for the current weather conditions.
Devise and practise a strategic race planRace strategy is not simply a matter of tackling each hurdle as you come to it. For this reason, it can be particularly helpful to create and note down a strategic race plan. How can you best achieve an effective start? At which points on a track are you most skilled at overtaking others? These are the sorts of questions that can help you to formulate a successful plan. This generic plan should be relatively flexible, enabling you to modify it for a variety of race scenarios. Be sure to practise your strategic plan as frequently as possible. This is a sure-fire way to minimise race day stress. If you arrive at the track in the pouring rain, for example, it need not spell disaster for your nerves. Simply adapt your plan to accommodate the wet track surface. You will also be able to fine tune your strategic plan on race day, when it comes to assessing the track. Have your plan clearly in mind when analysing the track map and tailor it to your needs.
Get a feel for itWhilst a well-practiced race plan can prove invaluable, it is important to use your intuition too. Visualisation can be a go kart driver’s best friend. Before hitting the tarmac, it is important to have a critical overview of the track in question and to imagine and feel yourself racing it, deciding on and carrying out all necessary manoeuvres. Take every opportunity to drive or race in different conditions and to experience a variety of race situations. Familiarise yourself with the process of thinking ahead, making decisions and implementing them. For example, learn what it feels like to drive on a wet surface, until wet driving becomes almost instinctive.
Those who achieve the most success as a result of race strategy usually call upon their brain and their gut in equal measure. Always be prepared to race and have a clear idea of how to tackle the track but do not be afraid to deviate from your plans now and then.