How to be quick in Bayford Meadows hire karts

Bayford Meadows is a nice technical track in Sittingbourne. They have 3 different classes of hire Karts – this track guide shares my experiences of driving the SuperPro Karts. In my first year of Karting I finished 7th in the championship and am now a regular finisher in the top 3 of races. Depending on the Kart and the conditions I can lap consistently between the 59.5 and 1:00.5.

The braking points for each of these corners will be different to what you would drive in an owner driver Kart where the times will be much quicker.

Basics

Before you try and get any speed out of a hire kart, you have to try and understand how it handles. Although they might have all started the day off identical they will have been driven since then and will change slightly. You’ll need to understand how your Kart handles. On your first lap out of the pits, get some heat in to the tires.

When you get to turn 2, stand on the brakes to see what they’re like as well as getting some heat and confidence.

The full circuit at Bayford Meadows

Turn 1

At the start of your lap, exiting Turn 10 you’ll be on the right hand side of the track. Stay there and start to gradually move to the left as you cross the start line. You want to be on the far left of the track as you approach the owner driver pit entry.

Some drivers will tell you Turn 1 can be taken flat and others say a slight lift is needed. I’m an advocate for a lift – my data tells me this is the quickest way through the corner for me. As you get to the owner driver pit entrance and the track starts to turn right, lift off briefly and start to turn in. The track tightens up and your apex isn’t visible until you get well in to the corner.

You can use some of the kerb on the outside but to much and you’ll scrub speed off the Kart and you want as much as possible for the long straight coming up.

The run down to Turn 1. The cutouts show the view on turn in and also the kerbs.

Turn 2

Stay on the left hand side of the track for Turn 2. When you get to the change in tarmac, turn the Kart towards the apex of Turn 2 and power straight through without lifting. There’s a small dip in the tarmac on the left hand side of the track before the corner entry – make sure you don’t drive over it as it will unbalance the Kart – as will using the kerb. As soon as you pass the apex brake hard in a straight line and then turn the Kart to take a late apex through the second half of the curve and straight line it across the kerb on the left, running all the way out to the right hand side of the track on the straight on the way to Turn 3.

Turn 3

Stay on the right hand side of the straight and brake hard in a straight line when the tarmac changes. Turn the Kart, taking the geometric line in, applying the power smoothly and using all the kerb on exit. If you do it right, when you come off the kerb you’ll be pointing directly at the turn in point for Turn 4. Cross the track in a straight line and get ready to brake.

The rather brutal kerbs on the inside of Turn 3….. stay off them!

Turn 4

This is the slowest part of the track and sets you up for Turn 5 which in turn sets up the whole second half of the lap. Brake hard, again where the tarmac changes. I like to take a tight line here and stay with the kerb (but not on it) and stick to the right hand side of the track on exit.

Turn 5

From the right hand side of the exit of Turn 4, get on the power smoothly and look for the apex of Turn 5. With practice, you can do this corner flat out and carry a lot of speed into Turn 6. There’s a lot of flat kerb on the exit so use as much of it as you can – if you abuse it you’ll get a warning but the kerb itself won’t slow you down.

There’s a lot of kerb on the exit of Turn 5 – as long as you keep 2 wheels inside the white line you can use as much as you need

Turn 6

Approach Turn 6 in the middle of the track and brake as late as you can. I like to brake progressively and balance the Kart on the turn in. There’s some markings on the tarmac that I use for my turn in point. Take a late apex and run out to the centre line of the track for Turn 7. You need to take Turns 6, 7 and 8 in a single motion – they flow from one to the other and messing up one will affect the other 2.

Turns 7 & 8

These 2 turns are taken flat out with one movement of the steering wheel. Keep your foot down and the Kart will accelerate all the way to Turn 9. If you get a bad exit from Turn 6 or aren’t smooth applying the power then it’s possible the Kart will oversteer out from you between the two corners and you’ll get a wheel on the grass. In the dry you can quickly recover but you’ll lose a lot of time. In the wet you’ll be in the tires so try not to do it!

The grass on the outside of Turns 7 and 8. You don’t want to use it.

Turn 9

As you approach Turn 9 you’ll be on the left hand side of the track on full throttle. Turn the Kart aiming to brush past the apex without using the kerb and run as wide as you can. Again, the kerb on the exit won’t slow you down if you use it but abuse it and you’ll get a track limits warning. Don’t brake at all for this corner – keep your right foot on the floor.

Apex on the tarmac, level with the tires and keep your foot on the floor.

Turn 10

This is the most thrilling part of the track. Approaching the corner, brake hard and in a straight line between the line in the tarmac and the tire with 3 white markings (it’s on the left hand side of the track). Turn the Kart aiming to get as close to the tires on the inside as you dare. Once you’re at the apex, aim to be as close to the tires on the left at exit as you dare. You can use the kerb at the crest of the rise if you’re brave enough but avoid using the kerb at the bottom – there’s a lot of dirt there and the ground is very uneven. It will destroy your lap time if you use it too much. In the wet the rain pools there too and you’ll get soaked. On exit, run out to the right hand side of the track and keep your foot down for the long straight.

Turn 10 viewed from the top of the rise. The cutouts show the mess on the left at the bottom and the sharp kerbs. Avoid them both.

Overtaking

I’ve found Turns 1 and 6 to be the best places to overtake. At turn 1, if you get a good exit from Turn 10 you can pass on either the inside or if the other driver defends you can take the normal racing line and pass them on the exit.

At Turn 6 you can pass on the inside on entry if you have enough speed down the straight. A lot of drivers run wide on the exit so this is also a good place to pick up a position or two.

If you’re feeling brave or confident you can pass on the insides of Turns 2 and. 3 but you’ll need to be close to the other driver and 100% sure you can still turn the Kart. You also run the risk of losing the place at the next corner where the other driver will have the inside line. In a race, if you have another driver behind you then you might want to take a very tight line in Turn 4 to stop them from passing you on the inside.

Summary

These are just my recommendations – the exact braking and turning in points will depend on your weight and your Kart so practice in qualifying to find the right places for you.

A 59.92 I set in July 2020

Let me know how you get on!