After the last post about Go Karting on a Stag Do in Leeds I’ve wanted to get back into the mix and get karting again. It’s not actually happened until last weekend, when myself and several others were invited to attend a Go Karting event for a friends birthday. I instantly said yes and booked on!
The venue was Birmingham’s Grand Prix Go-Karting. With only a week or so to go, banter was reaching a high point and so I hastily researched the circuit and Go Karting in general, to see if I could challenge for the win. With ten drivers in total, I felt I’d have a good chance although it was revealed that another driver had already been to the circuit before, another had some race experience and the rest were also competitive and had something to prove…
During the safety briefing we were told we’d get 3 minutes practice followed by 5 mins qualification and then according to the qualification times, we’d be placed on the grid and start the race!
We were also advised that the circuit was tough in damp conditions and many of the corners featured negative camber (the opposite of a banked corner) and this makes it difficult to make the kart do anything but understeer. Jamming on the brakes will easily get the rear into play on corners, and with the camber and grip being so against the kart, this was a decent tactic when running out of space or talent.
At the end of qualification, I was placed in fourth on the grid and once everyone had shuffled into position we waited for the green lights…
The racing line
Once off I focussed on trying to find grip by staying off the slippy racing line which is standard karting practice. I managed to stay in fourth until I slipped around a corner on the very first lap, not a good start!
I had to trust the kart to find grip at times. This made for some nervy moments as the kart struggled for grip until the last moment. I have since read up on leaning over the outside wheels as the kart corners. As karts don’t have a normal differential on the driven axle, karts rely on the inside rear tyre being off the ground in order to corner. You can influence this by leaning, sadly I didn’t do this. I did try to focus on keeping momentum going and not letting the engine get bogged down too much. This helped me get away from certain slow corners where others would have stamped on the brakes too much and end up waiting for the kart to accelerate again.
The other main tactic I used was to be patient. There are times to overtake and times to sit back and wait for others to make mistakes and in the wet, it was only a matter of time before there was a crash and I could just dodge around the karts involved.
The race was judged by how many laps you’d completed, so doing a few slightly slower laps behind someone is better than going to overtake and spinning out. There were a couple of occasions where I was impatient and span out and lost time, other than that I was fairly consistent with lap times. Other than turn 6, I managed to get around the other corners well at some point.
I finished in fourth position around 3 laps off the leader with an average lap of 75 seconds and a best of 70 seconds. My best lap was 3 seconds off the winners average time, so it was pretty obvious I was never going to challenge for the win… Even so, it was a great day with various little battles and duels going on.
Grand Prix Karting in Birmingham: Review
I’d definitely recommend Grand Prix Karting. Racing against 10 mates was brilliant. The last time I went karting, I was mixed up with others. Keeping us all together made for a far better race with personal battles throughout the race.
The circuit itself was fantastic, with some really challenging corners, especially in the wet. The hairpin and double apex corners will keep things interesting and there are a pair of quick “S” bends to keep you on your toes too.
The automated lap timing and qualification was an excellent feature too. This allowed a grid start, the best way to start a kart race. Once the race was finished we were all emailed our lap times.
The staff at Grand Prix all seemed really helpful for safety advice, beverages and the presentation ceremony too!
- £50 per driver (We had ten drivers, so £500 in total)
- 3 min practice
- 5 min timed qualification
- 30 min race with grid start (Fastest qualification time started in pole)
- SodiKart GT3 Go Kart, Boiler suits, hair nets, helmets were all provided
- I’d recommend taking a pair of trainers with you as they’re better for driving in