By James Wong

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Two weeks ago I had a go at Kartright Speedway after a hiatus of at least two years. I’ve never really liked paying so much to kart there, as much as a challenging track it may be, which is a great effort considering the small amount of space they’ve had to work with. However, with the kindness of a loved one I managed to get a generous track time of approximately 30 minutes, split into 10-minute stints.

It could have been just another karting session, but what was staggering about this revealing experience was that in each of the three karts I tried, every single one of them felt distinctly different!

Yes, we’re told that differences are to be expected, and every kart can never be identical. That is fine, but the breadth of disparity between them was really, really difficult to pass off as simply something to accept. Brake feel, for instance, ranged from a sensation likened to pressing a sponge to a razor sharp response that can rival the finest of WMF knives. Some steering was heavy and slow-witted, while others – probably due to camber/toe/castor settings I speculate – had such darty steering that I unsettled the rear every time I took a corner. Some engines had a shed-load of low-end power and died off at the top, while some had its sweet spot being revved to its limit. In essence, every kart felt like they were totally different. Yet you would never be able to tell from just looking at them, and the track chaps will say otherwise…

I suppose it is OK because these are arrive-and-drive karts, but the next time I talk to someone who’s just finished a fun kart session with me, I’d haste to be cautious about comparing notes about the experience because one could have been driving, for the sake of comparison, a BMW and another a Lada and neither would be none the wiser about it…

Moral of the story? I still had immense fun and had my body in a painful (but satisfying) ache after. However, the only way to properly kart competitively is in a race where weight, setup, tyre pressures, and all other details are benchmarked methodically. Forget about being peeved losing to your mate with fun karts at Kartright – it’s purely recreational! Aye, maybe that’s why they don’t provide track times for these sessions…

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