Long post. Get a coffee.
It had been overcast all day, but as the last group went out for race one, it started to rain. These karts run on slick tyres. In the dry the tyres give a lot of grip, but in the wet they’re hopeless.
Group B (mine) was waiting between the pit lane and the track while Group A went out for their second race. Cars were sliding all over the place. I wanted to make up some places in this race, but I don’t consider myself good in the wet – or at least I didn’t before the second race.
It was slippery. Brake too hard and you spin, accelerate too hard and you spin. Turn the wheels into the corner, and nothing happens, you just understeer (push) straight on.
Heading into a corner in a road car under braking, if your front wheels start to skid (assuming you don’t have ABS), you cadence brake. In a kart this has no effect; since the brakes are on the rear wheels only, cadence braking doesn’t increase grip at the front.
To overcome loss of grip on the front (steering) wheels you put the car in oversteer; accelerate so the rear wheels step out to try to overtake the front, spinning the car slightly. Catch the spin at the right point and the car is pointing into the corner.
It’s an odd feeling going into a corner, turning the wheel to no effect, heading towards the barrier, and then giving it some gas to get the back end to slide.
This is where I made some progress. Cars were spinning or just plain skidding off. Car control is paramount in the wet. Using your brakes or accelerator as on-off switches won’t work; you need smooth application of both.
I took advantage of out-of-control cars. I was also just out-driving some of the drivers who were in control. It was quite rewarding.
That’s not to say I didn’t lose control myself. I had a 3/4 spin on turn 3. I had to let at least four cars through before I could recover. Despite that, I knew I had done well over the (approximately) nine-lap race.
As the chequered flag fell, we filed into the pits in order. All I had to do was count the cars ahead of me to see my position. Again, some of those cars could have been lapped by the leaders but not me so would have been behind me, but there was no way to tell for sure. Counting the cars I was 13th or higher. Starting from 20th, I had gained at least seven places.
Regardless of the position, I had had a very enjoyable race. I had passed at least 11 cars (seven places plus four that had passed me when I spun).
There would be a long wait before knowing which drivers would go through to Round Four, but I knew I would go home satisfied with my performance in that second, wet race.