Pushing the OK karts: a word from the Pros

Columns: Close Up
We asked drivers of different generations, trainers and coach drivers what do they think of pushing the OK karts back on track. The common denominator is training, an aspect that perhaps takes second place in the new generations of drivers, also because they are very young. Some interesting considerations on the importance of the pre-race briefing also came up (fm)

«It must be said that when I was pushing the Formula Super A, the pinnacle of karting at the time, we were talking about 135 kg as per regulation, today we travel at other weights, moreover with much younger drivers who often don't have the necessary strength. Then you took the kart by the iron bumper, held it up and then slammed it down and it almost always started. Today with the plastic bumper it's difficult to even handle it right. It also depends on how you turn it, if you empty the carburettor, etc. Without intervening on the vehicles, the work must be done with the drivers. The driver I follow in OK knows how to start, but because I taught him, because we train to start and also why we use the lever. Maybe I’m repeating myself, but these drivers are still very young and the kart is really heavy: this is the key factor..." (Alessandro Manetti – Driver and Engines Tuner)

«Once upon a time it was probably easier to re-start again, but in my opinion we go back to the same discussion that we often had about the single-speed gearbox of today and that of back then: we were 20-22 year old people with more strength in our arms and legs and trained, real athletes. What kind of body can you have at 14? At a muscular level, muscle is what it is. When I was young we spent time learning how to push it, now we don't. Every now and then the mechanic makes them do it, but they don't always succeed, so a targeted program to learn on the track like it used to be is no longer possible. I once trained all day simulating a spin every 3-5 laps: I got out, turned it on and started again. And I still do it every now and then! » (Davide Forè - Driver and Driver Coach)

«I'm sorry to say this, but the Turney accident is an unfortunate case in itself. The driver restarted the kart on the outside of the curve, which should never be done because it is too dangerous, and in any case in our sport there is always an element of danger. If you do the maneuver on the correct side, inside the curve, the problem doesn't arise. Then it is true that the kids, especially in the Junior category, are still too frail to restart the kart on their own. A first way to make the kids responsible is to make the drivers more involved in the briefings: kids, the briefing is not a simple review of the colors of the flags. Specific issues should be addressed, first of all on safety also depending on the track on which one races or in the face of certain critical issues, trying to prevent unconsciously dangerous behaviour. Nowadays the briefing is a part of the races that is often taken for granted and there is not enough attention. In addition I would propose something similar to what happens in motorcycling, where marshals are allowed to help the rider get the bike started again. If you think about it, the driver's attempt - often in vain - ultimately lasts about 20/25 seconds and in that period of time, the group is already catching up in speed on the following lap. This also delays the removal of the kart which takes place just when the group is now close to the kart stopped on the track, and at that moment we often see the marshals remove the vehicles in a clumsy and dangerous manner. Much gratitude must be given to them, because they are often on the track out of passion, but it is right that they are trained correctly by the race organizers so that every eventuality, even those in which the driver has to restart, is managed safely.» (Lorenzo Travisanutto – Driver and Driver Coach)

«It's a question of experience, pushing the kart is possible, even if you are young and racing in the Junior. To gain experience, however, you have to train, at least a whole day every now and then should be dedicated to this aspect. You can also see it from how the drivers behave in the pre-grid: there are those who 'help' the mechanic to push and jump on top of the kart, there are those who sit and wait for the push. It is very important that the driver wants to learn: once you have practiced pushing together with the mechanic you learn to coordinate your movements, given that it is not an easy gesture athletically anyway. Then you can start on your own, you can't improvise during the race, it becomes dangerous. The drivers that I follow like Bondarev and Dubnitsky are absolutely autonomous in their restarts because we took the time to learn and then try and try again until we did it without any problems.» (Andriy Honta – Founder of the VIRA Racing Team school)

Read also: https://www.vroomkart.com/news/42724/push-starting-in-the-ok-an-athletic-feat

Created by: fmarangon2 - 07/11/23

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