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Looking at Karting Data: Approaching your information

Published By Davin Sturdivant     March 30, 2016    
So you've got data from your kart. So what?
Davin Sturdivant starts a series where he explains how to get more from karting data.


I’ve been looking at the data from my kart, on and off for the last few years. However just recently, I decided to take the time to practice using my datalogger and the analysis software more often. I decided to start a series on KartPulse which talks about what I’ve been learning with my analysis with karting.

Now, keep in mind that I’m not the most experienced person when it comes to handling data. I’d love to get your thoughts in the comments on how you look at your data, and have suggest different approaches on how to understand things better. In the future, I’ll be embedding some onboard footage using a SmartyCam, but for this post, there’ll be a lot of writing and screenshots.

So before I start going into the details of what I’m looking at with my own personal data, I wanted to take a post to talk about what my general approaches are when I’m analyzing karting information.

What tools should I bring to the track?

Before you get started, I’d recommend taking a look at the tools that you’re bringing with you to capture information at the track. Although your datalogger will be extremely helpful, it won’t be able to capture everything. I’d recommend bringing the following items with you for a practice day.

  • Your datalogger, using whatever system you prefer to use.
  • A track notebook, to take note of setup changes and other feedback from other people worth writing down. - Here is a link to a basic setup sheet for kart chassis setup.
  • A camera to take pictures of particular visuals that you may not remember later on (IE: A tire wear pattern.)
  • A laptop or tablet to be able to review your data trackside.

Provide yourself enough laps per session to have enough data to reference from

When you’re looking at session data, it’s important to provide yourself enough lap data to make your analysis useful. If you only go out and do one or two laps, you’ll have a very limited data set to compare with. For example, you may have done something unique on one lap, that won’t happen again. You could have encountered something abnormal like lap traffic, which can throw off that sectors data. The more laps that you can put into a session, the more information that you’ll have to reference from.

I recommend doing a race distance worth of laps which is typically 10 to 12 laps, if you’re sprint racing. That’ll give you enough information to see any trending in the data, and also weed out any obvious abnormalities.

Make only one change at a time, and feel comfortable running multiple sessions with that change.

If you’re trying to track the changes in laptime due to a setup change, try to only make one setup change a time. Log the change in your notebook, and then go and do your session run. That way you’re able to tell the specific effect that the specific change is making. Make sure to note whether that change has made the kart feel better or worse, along with any laptime differences.

You may not notice a difference right away when you make a setup change. Therefore, it can be useful to do multiple sessions with that change, in order to have more information to reference from before deciding whether it’s good or bad.


Define what I’m looking for before I start looking into the data

So you’ve downloaded your data. Now what do you do with it?

First of all, ask yourself ‘What am I trying to find?’ before you just start looking at the data. Throwing yourself into waves of squiggly lines, is the surest way to get yourself lost and frustrated. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you won’t be able to identify anything of use. Here are some examples of some easy things to ask yourself before you start looking at your data.

  • “I’m trying to find the section of the track where I’m the least consistent.”
  • “I’m trying to see if I’m braking in the same place, everytime.”
  •  “I’m trying to see if I’m using one pedal at a time, or overlapping inputs.”

These are just some examples, but the point is to define what you’re looking for, before you start reading into anything. I typically start with trying to find the sections of the track where I’m the least consistent, because that’s typically the place where I can find the most amount of time.


Understand the what, where and WHY of your data

The majority of what you’ll be doing when looking at data is making comparing a trace from one lap, to another. The goal is to understand three things:

  • 1) What happened on track?
  • 2) Where on the track did it happen?
  • 3) Why did it happen?

Once you understand why something is happening, you can start coming up with a practice approach to attempt to duplicate the effect.


Pick just one data channel and start from there.

Depending on your setup, many datalogging systems provide many input channels that they are capturing. Speed, Lateral G Force, Longitudinal G force, lamba, creating custom channels, etc. It will all depend on what hardware you have. Each channel will help you answer a specific question, depending on what it’s picking up.

When you start diving into your analysis software, I recommend starting looking at only one channel at a time, to get an understanding of what the information from that channel means to you and your kart. Once you understand what each channel represents, you'll have a better understanding of the impact of each trace.

Once you’re able to dig more deeply into your data, you can start combining the information you get from different channels to get a more complete picture. However when you’re getting started, just look at one channel at a time and understand what it’s telling you.

Look at all of your laps, not just the fastest ones.

When going through your session data, compare the traces from all of your laps, against your fastest one. Using a simple example, breaking the lap into three sectors, there will be some times where you first sector was much faster than the others, but the overall laptime was slower than your fastest overall time. It’s important to see why a sector was so much faster, in order to incorporate those elements into your driving behavior.


Pay attention to the laptimes, but don’t get too hung up on them when comparing data from different days.

Keep in mind, if you’re comparing data from different data that the track conditions will most likely be different from day to day. Air temperature, track temperature, the amount for rubber of the track and the freshness of your tires all can impact how fast your laptimes are.

Tracks evolve with the more rubber that’s put down on them from other karts. That’s typically why laptimes during a busy race weekend typically are faster than when the track has been empty. If it rains, all of the rubber that’s been on the track will get washed away, and the ultimate laptime on the track will be slower as well.

Although we get hung up on what our fastest lap ever is, it does take particular set of track conditions to achieve it. It’s more important to look at the consistency of your laps, to see if you can keep your driving within a particular window. When your driving is more consistent, it’s easier to notice a change in the data.

Get other driver’s data where possible. - See if you can find a friend

You can find a ton of information from your own lap data. However, at the end of the day, we're comparing our performance to others when we start racing. If you have the opportunity to find someone who will share his or her data with you, I would take advantage of it and share what you've learned. Regardless if they are faster or slower than you, you both can always gather information from it. 

(A good analogy a friend gave me, was that just always keeping to your own data would be like trying to learn a new spoken language by just talking to yourself. You'll pick it up much faster in a conversation with another person.)

  • It provides you a control reference, of how you are doing in comparison to another driver.
  • Another driver may provide data inputs that you were previously unaware of.
  • It can make your aware of what not to do, in cases where the other driver is much slower.

Let’s just say for example, your fastest lap time is a 1:00 flat around your local track. We can take all of your data and start to help to marginalize your laptimes closer to a 1:00 laptime. We can even get you under a minute when we look at sectors of laps where you’ve gone faster, and start to incorporate that into your practice approach.

However, let’s just say that the front runners are running 0:58 second laps. Granted, given time, we could find the time and get you closer, but if you have an immediate reference that tells you where that other driver is gaining two seconds on, I’d  take advantage of that information.

Would you want to leave two seconds on the table for free? I know I wouldn’t. Below is a video about how to compare multiple laps in Race Studio. We're working with AIMSports about doing several videos about how to do data analysis in Race Studio, specifically for karting!

So what's next?
Starting this month, I’ll start doing more posts data analyzing my session data, and what changes I’m implementing into my practice and race days. The hope is that with some real-world examples of using data, you’ll be able to understand how to look at your own information better.

This isn’t going to be perfect, so if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out and contact me.

Twitter- Relaxeddriver
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