10 Karting Tips from Former British Champion Mike Simpson

Mike Simpson has done almost everything there is do in the world of go karting. He’s a former eight-time British Grand Prix champion, four-time British champion and vice world champion.

Mike now works for Ginetta, one of Europe’s biggest race car manufacturers. He’s head of Ginetta’s commercial team and their factory driver, so he travels the world helping customers on and off the track.

When it comes to go karting, Mike really knows his stuff. Looking to improve your average lap time? Read his top 10 go karting tips for budding racers.

1. Time on the Track

“Practice as often as you can. Even if it’s just you and your dad, rather than an organised race, just get as much time in the kart as possible.”

2. Visualise Success

“Visualisation is important in karting. It builds your confidence and helps you get ready for big races. You need to be mentally prepared, so walk the circuit in the morning before the race and imagine how you’re going to handle each bend.”

3. Hit the Gym

“Go karting has changed. You can’t just try your luck on the day and see if you can get a result. You need to act like a professional and this means keeping fit. If you’re going to do well, your arms and neck need to be in good physical condition.”

4. Look After Your Tyres in Qualifying

“A lot of people start weaving around the track straight away in qualifying, to get the tyres up to temperature. I prefer to build them in really slowly to avoid damaging them.

“Take two laps nice and slowly, then give it two hard laps. Do few more gentle laps to cool the tyres off, wait for the track to clear and go again. It’s not all about flying out of the pits straight away.”

5. Be Alert on the Starting Grid

“When you’re on the starting grid you need to look for the gaps. Sometimes the outside might be the way to go, other times it might be the inside. You can’t just focus immediately in front of your bumper – you need look way ahead.

“You can try to come up with a plan before the green lights flash, but it won’t always work out. It’s more about instinct. You need to be very aware and alert at all times in case someone spins in front of you.”

6. Handling the First Corner

“When things are tight at the start of the race, a general rule is not to leave a gap between you and the kart in front.

“If there is a big space and you get hit from behind, you’ll go forward and hit the racer in front. This could result in a crash or get you in trouble with the marshals. If your hit when you’re right on the other guy’s bumper, you’ll all get shoved along, but you should get round the first corner unscathed.”

7. Keep Hydrated

“Make sure you’re well hydrated before you get in the kart. Drink lots several days before the race because it takes a long time for your body to store water. Start well in advance and you’ll be fine, and whatever you do don’t use energy drinks.”

8. Healthy Eating

“Nutrition is really important. Having a bacon sandwich and a coffee when you arrive at the track won’t cut it. You need to start thinking about your food three or four days before your race. Healthy eating is the way to go.”

9. Pace Yourself for Endurance Races

“In endurance races you’re part of a team and you’ll be handing the kart over to another driver, so you need to look after it. Be quick, consistent and clean, so the kart is in good shape for your teammates.

“Find a comfortable pace and stick with it. It’s very difficult to do an hour flat out without hurting the kart or yourself, so try running at 95% and manage the race as well as you can.”

10. Enjoy Yourself

“Enjoying go karting is the most important thing. You should end every session with a smile on your face.”