Dr. Phillip J. De Prez

More haste less speed!

In racing tips 2, we looked at the importance of starts and how a good start can set up the race. However once racing, it is not always about going the fastest you can all the time. I always remember my Scottish Grandmother saying ‘more haste less speed’ and it took me a long time to understand that and especially how it related to racing.

It seems to go against what racing is all about; to go fast and win! But if we stand back and look at it, it does make sense (to me anyway). If you try too hard and push beyond the limits of yourself and the kart, times will be slower than if driving a controlled race, sometimes trying to do something too quickly results in making mistakes and taking longer and losing time in the end.

In my races we use a straight line eight car grid with a speedway style bungee start and many times I have been in races where coming into the first corner no one has made a clean break and all the cars are still together. In those instances, I have gone against the temptation to keep my foot down but I have braked hard and slowed the car right down, let the others power on and I cut to the inside, while running a lot slower into the bend it gave me track advantage coming into the straight.

To be fast and consistent you need to be in harmony with track and kart, driving within your limits and being able to get the best from the kart in different track conditions. An ideal situation is where the kart almost feels like it is a part of you, when it seems to move and react without you thinking about it, the braking, steering and accelerator are used smoothly and everything seems to be effortless. If we try too hard sometimes the braking is harsh, there is too much or little input into the steering and use the accelerate either all on or all off which unsettles the handling of the kart.

Racing is sometimes as much about patience as it is about speed, it is about planning and decision making – where and when to overtake or defend. This takes time and experience to develop and even racers who have been around a long time like me don’t get it right every time. Sometimes taking some good points is better than making a poor decision and not finishing, especially when aiming for championships where consistent points soon add up…. More haste less speed is sometimes the best way!

As we go into the last round of the championship, I want to wish everyone the best of luck and hope you have safe races and enjoy the weekend. While there will be those at the weekend who will deservedly pick up trophies for the weekend and season, for me winning is not always about trophies it is about the experiences and knowledge you gain throughout the year, the new friends you make and the fun and enjoyable times, in that sense everyone in the Championship is a winner including the TKZ team.

Best wishes, Phill.

(Oh the picture! A few of the trophies I have won over the years (and broken race parts) I forget where most came from, but the friends I made at racing are always with me).

Phillip specialises in the Psychology of Human Performance with motorsport teams and individuals focusing on minimising error based behaviours, decision making and developing consistent successful behaviours. Along with his strong academic background, he has over 30 years experience of racing himself which he can use to help others reach their racing potential.