Defending your position in go-karting

Diagram of the racing line on complexes

How to Defend Your Position in Karting

16 May 2024

Have you ever been in the thick of an intense indoor go karting race, and just as you think you’ve secured a lead, someone suddenly zips past you? 

This is always frustrating - even if you’re great at overtaking, it takes a totally different set of skills to stop others from overtaking you. 

In this blog, you’ll learn how to defend your position in karting. We will answer questions like:

  • When is it worth using defensive tactics?
  • How can you block overtakers?
  • Are there instances where you shouldn’t defend your position?

Let’s get into it!

The Basics of Overtaking

To start, let’s make sure you know the absolute basics of how to overtake - knowing this will not only help you get ahead, but help you recognise when your competitors are trying to pass you. 

Here is how you can overtake perfectly in just four steps:

  1. Drive directly behind the car in front for as long as possible - this will ensure you’re in the slipstream, where there is less wind resistance and you can drive faster.
  2. It’s easiest to overtake around corners, on the inside of the lane, so keep your eye out for the best opportunities.
  3. Brake as late as possible - whichever of you brakes the latest around this corner has the best chance of getting ahead.
  4. Slip past them on the inside; slow in, fast out.

Of course, there are more scenarios and techniques to consider after you feel confident with this - for a more detailed guide, read our blog on How to Overtake in Go Karting

Awareness is key

We’ve taught you how to overtake - now you need to stop others from overtaking. The key to perfecting your defence strategy is awareness.

Firstly, be aware of your competitors’ patterns. At TeamSport, you’ll get a practice lap before the race starts in earnest - use this chance to observe the other drivers. You might be able to spot patterns in how they drive. For example, do they tend to stick to the inside of the lane? Do they slow down quite a lot before they go around corners? Noticing little things like this might give you an edge once the real competition starts!

Secondly, be aware of what’s going on behind you. A couple of glances over your shoulder (when it’s safe to do so) will go a long way in a go karting race. Periodically check to see if there’s anyone close behind you, and if so, are they looking for an opportunity to overtake you?

Thirdly, and most crucially for defending your position in go karting, be aware of what’s going on in front of you. Be on the lookout for what’s coming up on the track. Looking ahead to the next braking point, corner apex or exit is crucial to maintaining your spot in the race because these are all opportunities for someone to overtake you (or for you to overtake someone else).

When should you defend your position in karting?

At what point do you start defending your position instead of actively trying to push forward? Some may say that the only position worth defending is the first place, but that’s not true - we would say that once you’re in one of the top three positions, that’s when you start protecting your place. 

Of course, if you’re happy with 4th or 6th or 13th place, that’s fine too! But if you think you have a chance to get ahead, it makes sense to prioritise overtaking instead of defending. 

Stay in the Racing Line

Once you’re aware of everything happening around you, and who you’re up against, your job is simple: Stay in the Racing Line. As we explain in our blog on Understanding the Racing Line, there is an ideal path to take through a racing track to drive around it as quickly as possible. 

Think of a hairpin, for instance - if you stuck to the outside of the lane, you’d be taking a much longer pathway around that corner than people on the inside. But you don’t want to stick too closely to the inside either. The turn would be much tighter, which would make steering difficult and probably slow you down. 

For cornering in a go-kart, you want to approach the corner from the outside, hit the apex in the middle of the lane, and exit on the outside again. For more information, read our guide on How to Improve Cornering.

So what does this mean when you’re defending your position in go karting?

Don’t be bullied out of the racing line. Every time you leave the inside of a corner open, or let a pushy driver nudge you away from it, it’s an opportunity for someone on your tail to slip past you. Defend yourself by forcing them outside the racing line and ensuring that the fastest course around the track belongs to you.

When should you not defend your position?

When it comes to indoor go karting, the lanes are quite narrow. This makes it more of a challenge to overtake sometimes, but also makes it difficult for others to overtake you. 

Eager or aggressive drivers might try to overtake you when there isn’t enough room, causing them to bump into you. This can be dangerous, so these situations, ask yourself whether it makes more sense to just let them pass. 

We all go go karting to have fun, and drivers should be respectful and leave each other enough space. If someone isn’t leaving you enough space - whether that’s because they’re misjudging the width of the gap beside you, or bumping into you on purpose -  you may need to be the bigger person and move for everyone’s safety. 

Build Essential Go Karting Skills at TeamSport

Let’s wrap everything up! In summary, if you want to block others from overtaking you and defend your position in karting, you need to have a keen awareness of what’s going on around you and a good understanding of the racing line. 

Ready to put your new knowledge into practice? Why not head down to TeamSport! We have over 40 locations across the UK and a host of other activities to enjoy after your Grand Prix, including (depending on location) crazy golf, laser combat and VR! Most importantly, our staff are always on hand to support you and provide tips and pointers to take your karting to the next level.

Visit your local TeamSport venue to see what we have in store for you, find your nearest track here!