The Best Kart Sims to Keep You Sharp

Many professional race car drivers use karting to keep race-ready. Karting is the bedrock of countless motorsport careers, including those of Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher. 

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The Best Kart Sims to Keep You Sharp
Written by the teams at & Driver61

Ayrton Senna, the near-mythical three-time Formula 1 World Champion, always proclaimed his love for karting, describing his early-career exploits as “pure racing, pure driving. There was no politics, no money involved. I have fond memories of that time”.

That purity makes sense: a small engine attached to a simple chassis means it’s the driver that makes the difference, with current F1 stars using karting to keep their reactions and racecraft sharp during the off-season.

If you don’t have the opportunity or means to do this, however, then virtual karting is a viable alternative, especially with the range of high-quality, specialised kart software available to us today.

Below, we’ll run through the main karting simulators on the market and discuss their good and bad points to help you decide which kart sim is best for you.

Kart Racing Pro

Kart Racing Pro is developed by one-man development team PiBoSo. Released in 2017 for PC, it is a full-on karting simulator with uncompromising attention to detail. However, its dated looks and lack of computer-controlled opponents betray its low-budget roots.

There are only seven tracks - including an officially licenced version of Karting Genk - and a scarcity of in-game content. Menus look like they belong in the previous century too, and although there is wet weather it can’t be customised freely in the same way as it can in KartSim for rFactor 2.

However, KRP is compatible with VR headsets - something that makes the virtual karting experience especially immersive - with fluid frame rates possible even using modest PCs. 

Crucially, the driving physics are also massively engaging: throwing a kart around is fun and forgiving, with the chassis feeling alive to your inputs. Your kart visibly flexes under cornering load (maybe a tad too much?), helping you feel the limit of grip in a progressive manner. It’s fun.

KRP also has a small but active online community, with regular races and championships featuring high-quality modded tracks and karts (check out Sim Kart Modding for high-quality KRP resources). Public lobbies are often very quiet, however.

KRP also features neat touches not found in rival sims; from being able to cover the radiator to help optimise engine temperatures, to tucking your virtual karter’s head to improve airflow. These are the kind of flourishes that mark KRP out as a serious karting contender despite its low-budget aesthetic.

Kart Racing Pro, PC (Steam), £29.99.

KartSim for rFactor 2

KartSim is an optional piece of DLC for Studio 397’s rFactor 2 simulator. So, before purchasing the Kart Sim Esports Pack you’ll also need to own rFactor 2. KartSim’s track and kart content can be purchased individually too, but the Kart Sim Esports Pack represents the best value for money. 

KartSim is a British-based company that sells bespoke simulator software and hardware aimed directly at up-and-coming karters, including specialised simulators featuring widescreen monitors and kart-like chassis.

In terms of software, if you really want to push the boat out you can buy the KartSim Pro UK 2024 Software for £499, which includes a stack of karts and numerous British kart circuits to drive them on.

For £899, you can also purchase the KartSim Ultimate UK & EU 2024 Software, which includes all the UK content plus more European tracks and karts. It’s pricey, but the Kart Sim Esports Pack for rF2 represents much better value at £35.39.

So what are the benefits of using KartSim? Well, the big draw for many sim racers is that the software is integrated into rF2 and uses its tried and tested physics to simulate karting.

This also means dynamic weather and AI opponents can be used in-game, enhancing realism when it comes to race practice. Although rF2 has its bugs and is difficult to set up occasionally, it’s still an extremely capable sim with satisfying handling, something that translates well to KartSim.

With ten tracks (including popular venues like Whilton Mill, Paul Fletcher International and Buckmore Park) and five karts (rental karts and Senior x30 classes being highlights), all bases are covered, with more circuits available to download via the Steam Workshop (check out Atlanta Motorsports Park for an unbelievably engaging kart circuit).

Getting to grips with the karts is a simple process. Handling is approachable, with extremely forgiving kerb behaviour, but nailing that final one per cent of performance is still tricky without feeling frustrating.

Graphics are slightly too saturated (a general rF2 criticism) but feature pretty depth-of-field effects. Some sounds are a little ropey, however, especially the irritatingly loud crunching sound when driving off-track.

And KartSim also takes advantage of rF2’s much-improved VR functionality, so it plays well on most headsets. You may need to turn down details like shadows, however.

Kart Sim Esports Pack, PC (Steam), £35.39

rFactor 2, PC (Steam), £24.99


Originally developed by Black Delta, KartKraft has been around since 2018. Originally devised as a work-in-progress ode to all things karting, KartKraft and its developer were acquired by Motorsport Games in 2021, with a full release arriving in January 2022.

However, it lacked several key features on release, including properly implemented online PVP multiplayer and a functional career mode.

In terms of visuals, KartKraft is the prettiest and most ‘grown-up’ of all the kart sims on this list, using Unreal Engine to provide a grittier and more detailed aesthetic. Sadly, its looks can result in performance issues for those with mid-range PCs, which isn’t ideal when trying to nail an apex at 80mph. 

Driving in VR requires players to heavily compromise their graphics settings too, but it’s worth the effort as KartKraft is easily the most detailed kart sim  - despite frequent frame drops.

KartKraft’s driving experience can be just as raw too, with karts requiring snappy inputs to keep them on the racing line. The incidental sounds - screeching tyres, the put-put-put of a kart engine - bring a level of immersion absent in other kart titles but the experience is let down somewhat by your kart’s erratic reactions to kerbs. It feels unfinished.

There’s a solid, if scant, lineup of tracks to choose from, with UK favourites like Whilton Mill and Paul Fletcher International interspersed with Australian circuits such as the Go Kart Club of Victoria and The Geelong Kart Club. 

10 tracks are available in total, with an impressive array of licensed kart manufacturers in the X30, KZ2 and KA100 classes. There’s also an oddball Praga Monster Kart and a slightly incongruous KartKross off-roader to tame. However, there is no modding support, so the track and kart rosters can’t be supplemented as they can in KartSim and Kart Racing Pro.

There’s licensed apparel from the likes of Bell and Alpinestars, with a broken career mode economy resulting in infinite funds and zero progression.

Sadly, this is indicative of the developmental limbo KartKraft finds itself in since its creators were made redundant in late 2023. It’s a real shame, as KartKraft has the potential to cement itself as the best karting sim around. In its current state, however, it lacks content, a competitive online mode and its future development prospects look uncertain.

KartKraft, PC (Steam), £20.99

Honourable Mentions

As far as other virtual karting alternatives go, the likes of Gran Turismo 7 (GT7) and Automobilista 2 (AMS 2) offer various options. GT7 is fairly limited as it only offers one kart with no specialist kart tracks, while AMS 2 has a plethora of chassis and circuits.

However, the feel of the karts in AMS 2 is rather skittish, so despite having dynamic weather effects and a few bespoke kart tracks it’s arguably no match for the kart sims detailed above. 

Which is where its predecessor - Automobilista - comes in. Automobilista also has a few karts and tracks, with mods adding to this number (check out Niels Heusinkveld’s epic kart mod and reworked version of the Karting Genk track as seriously viable alternatives). Assetto Corsa also has numerous free kart mods available, so could be a good option for those seeking virtual karting thrills on a budget.

Which Kart Sim Should I Buy?

With three main options to choose from, as well as capable outliers like Automobilista and Assetto Corsa, virtual karters are well catered for.

For those seeking an all-encompassing experience including dynamic weather, AI, mods and convincing physics, KartSim for rFactor 2 may be the least-compromised option. KartKraft is entertaining and pretty to look at, but its lack of development support and online functionality makes it a risky choice for now. 

Kart Racing Pro bridges the gap between the two thanks to its ongoing support, active communities and drivability, but it lacks the visual bells and whistles of the more modern karting software.

The best option is to try all the kart sims yourself and see which suits you best, they all do a good job of simulating the purity and fun of karting, each with their individual idiosyncrasies. The main takeaway is that any of these will help keep your driving skills sharp - in the real or virtual worlds.

To brush up on your sim racing skills try our AI-driven coaching tool here.

Last Updated
May 1, 2024
Sim Racing

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