If you ask nearly any professional racecar driver what they think the most important thing is for a driver to master to be fast, nearly all of them will say the brake zone.
You can even find out from two-time IndyCar Champion, Josef Newgarden on why he thinks the brake zone is the most important part of a corner and how you can improve your braking today in his Champion’s Course presented by Blayze by clicking here.
In this video we join Blayze pro-karting coach and 4 time Pro-Tour Champion, Ryan Norberg as he discusses how karters can improve their braking technique and consistency on any race track in any type of kart.
The first thing to know is that as drivers we always need to be able to adapt. While there are general guidelines we should follow we have to know that sometimes we may need a different technique for a specific corner or condition, so study the following guidelines from Ryan but be willing to adjust your driving at needed.
The Start Of The Brake Zone
We want our peak brake pressure to come right away as we attack the brakes.
Our tires have a limit to how much grip they can give us. If we are turning in, we are asking for a certain amount of grip of the tire while turning. That means we can’t ask for 100% braking grip and pressure at that same moment.
In most brake zones on a race track when we attack the brakes our hands are straight which means the tires can dedicate 100% of their grip to slowing the kart down.
We want to attack the brakes hard enough to where the rear tires just ever so slightly start to lock and then release off just a little bit of brake pressure. We don’t want to fully lock up the rear tires as the kart can become uncontrolable and as the tire drags over the pavement we can overheat our rear tires as well.
We want to ensure our feet and hands are working together. So, as our hands turn more and more our foot should be releasing off the brakes more and more.
In most corners we don’t want a long coast period (when we are not on the brakes or throttle), ideally we are braking almost all the way down to the apex.
The reason for this is that when we brake we are affecting the weight transfer on the kart and transferring the weight to the front. This increases front grip and allows us to get more rotation and a better exit out of the corner.
While this video on weight transfer was made by Blayze pro-racecar coach Dion von Moltke, it is still a great video for karters to watch to understand weight transfer. Click here to view
The best way to think about trail braking is that the brakes after turn in is less about slowing the kart down and more about increasing front grip. To trail brake effectively we want just a small amount of brake pressure engaged after the turn in point.
The Coast Period
This is the shortest period of the brake zone. As we release off the last bit of brake pressure we want a short hesitation where we aren’t on throttle or brakes to let the kart settle.
Once you feel that kart settle and we can start to open our hands at corner exit that’s when we want to aggressiely get back to initial throttle.
One of the most important things to know about a correct brake zone is where we pick up the throttle and we typically don’t want to be getting to throttle before the apex.