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Does it really help to put your head down on the straights?

I'd like to start a discussion about the various factors at work in "ducking" on the straights. 

 

Superficially, it seems like a no-brainer: Less wind resistance = good idea. But I vaguely recall one discussion (on karting1.co.uk perhaps?) that claimed the time gained is negligible, and it's better to look at and concentrate on the race. Also, my son reported that on a damp track, ducking made him noticeably slower -- because he was pulling on the steering wheel to get lower, and thus removing weight from the rear wheels!   That could also be a factor on a dry track. 

What do you think? 

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Ever ridden a pushbike at less than 20 kmh into the wind? Difference in a kart may be minimal, but ignore at your peril.

Pete,

Aerodynamic forces are at work at all speeds (according to the laws of physics). Perhaps what you were referring to is that 'aero' cars are designed to achieve maximum efficiency above certain speeds. This is why we see differences on F1 cars at different tracks, as they 'tune' the aero to suit different speed tracks.

 

As for ducking......

 

If you honestly believe it makes you faster (and you are not breaking the relevant rule), then go ahead. But if you prefer to develop your skill, style and technique based on hard data, you should perhaps be looking as far ahead up the track as possible, as this is the REAL key to faster lap times.

Aero does work at all speeds but as it is not linear and I think is the square (maybe the cube) to speed. The time difference in a kart will be negligable (talking around 1 hundreth or less). When im in a slipstream I like too do it to try to get any gain possible but its not much of a difference.

My uni FSAE team (low speed <160kmh) experimented with an aero dyanamic undertray one year and got a phd student to optimise it. They tested it in the wind tunnel and at 160kmh it developed 10kg of downforce and thats about it.

Duck your head if you like but there are much larger gains to be found.

If aero didn't work below 160km/h an hour, then drafting wouldn't work either. But everybody knows you should try to get a tow in qualifying!

 

That said, watch Wall-E, J Sera, Hrynuik, etc... none of them duck, but they still seem to win! That said, D. Sera is known to duck on occasion, and he wins a lot more than occasionally!

I'm glad I got a discussion going! Keep it up. And before I go to bed (12:11 am in Germany), I want to thank Col for that unequivocal answer. :-)

whether it works or not if you think it does then do it, BUT always look ahead NOT at the ground as I believe there IS a rule in the book relating to ducking of heads. Saw a horrendous accident occur because the driver was looking down not ahead, ran up the abck of a kart just ahead BIG rollover.

 

I have heard it can upset kart handling as it changes the centre of gravity as you lean forward from your normal sitting position.

You should only be doing it along straights so the handling shouldnt matter too much.

Yes the rule states your vision in not to be impeaded. I dont know how people can drive when they cant see... scares the crap out of me.
Paul Hewitt said:

whether it works or not if you think it does then do it, BUT always look ahead NOT at the ground as I believe there IS a rule in the book relating to ducking of heads. Saw a horrendous accident occur because the driver was looking down not ahead, ran up the abck of a kart just ahead BIG rollover.

 

I have heard it can upset kart handling as it changes the centre of gravity as you lean forward from your normal sitting position.

I think it's more placebo effect than anything, so if you think it helps then go for it.

I use to duck before I saw a photo of myself doing it and decided there was no point, as I was just bringing my shoulders up square to the steering wheel and making a bigger frontal area.

 

f it makes you think your going to go quicker then you are the decider !!

 

.

Theres a vid on youtube of M . Schumacher in a large karting field coming from the rear to beat them all. he ducked then & smashed them. That said it was twice up the straight, and was still blisteringly fast when he wasnt

 

There is drag on the back of the seat, I don't know to what scale. There would be benefit in channelling air down behind the seat but in front of the axle & at the higher speed tracks there would be a noticeable advantage (albeit small) I know this as I've done some impromptu testing on it & think there is something that could be gained by having a diffuser setup behind the seat. however this is 100% banned under all AKA rules & therefore can't be done.

 

As for ducking the head. probably stuff all really. I don't bother with it

Col Fink said:

That said, watch Wall-E, J Sera, Hrynuik, etc... none of them duck, but they still seem to win! That said, D. Sera is known to duck on occasion, and he wins a lot more than occasionally

During qualifying when hundredths or even thousandths of a second are at play I'll give it a go!
Just as easy / difficult to prove that it doesn't work as it is that it does work.  It has been shown in wind tunnel testing that a dirty car has more drag than a clean car!  Has anyone put a full size kart and driver in a wind tunnel? 

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