All posts by Sidney Sprocket

Formula TKM: October, 2013 Formula TKM News

Written By: Grahame Butterworth

Wow what a Festival! Breathtakingly close racing, stunning overtaking, club drivers taking on the national champs, a massively spectacular crash and lots of smiling faces all round. An event to remember.

Despite the loss of the 4-stroke Senior class this year there were actually more entries than last underlining the continued growth of the TKM 2-stroke classes in both Juniors and Seniors.

Timed qualifying further reinforced the closeness of the classes with literally hundredths of a second separating the first few in each class and in all cases resulted in times within hundredths of a second of the qualifying times from last year. That’s also a good measure of the consistency of the Maxxis slicks of which more later.

The heats were close and the finals gave superb racing. The Junior Elite final produced an incredible race where a train of something like 10 karts swapped places and the lead almost corner by corner, and all without taking each other off. The best race I have seen for a very long time and full marks to Daniel Baybutt who managed to make his way to the front and then give it everything as the others battled behind.

Taking third in the race, and having been one of the front runners for the whole weekend, was Lewis Outten who is a club driver and currently leading the TKM Club Championship with two wins. His skilful drive against the top national names in the class won him the Bernie Turney award for an outstanding performance.

Among the Juniors were four 4-strokes over from the Isle of Man who had a great time racing in with the 2-strokes. Their equal performance really demonstrates how well the two different engine types can race together and I hope will encourage more of those engines back out onto the track.

In TKM Extreme two names appeared at the top of the sheets all weekend – Toby Sowery and Will Van Es. Sowery was fastest in quali and won every race including the final, but not until after the most monumental battle with Van Es. He also pulled the overtake of the century in the pre-final with a clever dummy and switch-back which won him a spontaneous round of applause around the track.

It was good to see a number of females taking part and doing well. Suzanne Gutzold from the Isle of Man came out tops among them with a third place in the Festival Juniors.

One of the other women drivers had a less happy finish to the weekend when one of the last heats for the Juniors saw a frightening crash. A kart spun going onto the TKM straight and a big pack following came out of Dan Wheldon corner unsighted to be faced with a backwards kart. It was like an explosion with karts, wheels, bodywork and bits flying everywhere.

Two karts were destroyed and in one of them was Jodene Newman who sat worrying still after the smash as the medical team raced to the scene. After lots of work she was taken to hospital and kept in overnight with back and neck concerns but released on Monday. Amazingly the rest were walking wounded. A lucky escape for everyone.

Now for anyone who has suggested that the TAG engine is not as fast as direct drive…think again. Shaun Abbott took delivery of a new Tal-Ko Veloce kart with his Extreme TAG engine and went straight out in qualifying to put in a time which put him on the front row for every heat. Partly due to lack of experience he had non finishes in two of his three heats. But…he still came through in the final from way down on the grid to take second place in the Festival. Those TAGs are the way to go and definitely not slow!

Sadly a couple of drivers who earned podium places were disqualified at scrutineering for having the top piston ring entirely coked in. It is one of those items which I hate to see and a good reminder that you must check that your rings are free when racing. It may seem picky – but the rule was introduced to stop the deliberate coking in of rings to give a performance benefit which some clever tuners were using to flaunt the regulations.

Sad too that several drivers were found to be underweight after qualifying and pre-finals. It is good to be as light as possible – but not under the limit of course. An extra kilo is a lot better to have than an exclusion from a race and waste of all that effort.

One other item which came up over the weekend was the engine fiche rule on the exhaust which can be miss-read as meaning the clever flex rings made by Tal-Ko are mandatory. They are not mandatory but are optional and there will be a slight tweak to paperwork to make this clearer.

Finally the Maxxis supported event really allowed the latest slicks used in the class to display their very best. In the Extremes for example after getting on for 100 laps of quali, heats, finals etc, the top drivers were all producing lap times within a hundredth or so of their quali times on new rubber. That’s an exceptional level of consistency.

And in Clubman, where they don’t have to use new control tyres but could if they wished, Daniel Mense who came second was on a set of old tyres discarded by a team from testing and bought for just £20 on Friday night. Oh and the winner started with second hand tyres too. A remarkable performance.

To cap it all off the event used the new Tag-Heuer timing system with drivers all loaned transponders for the weekend. It proved very popular, especially the ability to compare times over the three different splits on the track. It looks like the way forward.

 

Formula TKM: September, 2013 Formula TKM News

Written By: Grahame Butterworth

Phew what a scorcher – just about the only way to sum up the British summer as I sit here in my Sprocket shorts tapping on the keys and putting all of this sunshine at risk by daring to suggest it might actually be here for more than a day or two.

[Drop cap] So damn it, let’s carry on down this risky route and remind you of what we all did when we actually had a summer, because for some of you it might easily be your first time of experiencing it on a race track.

It is no exaggeration to say that in the 30¡C temperatures we are currently enjoying, the way that you run your kart can change quite significantly from the way it would be run over the past series of dismally wet and dull summers we have experienced.

Engine, tyres, chassis, fuel, driver – they all need to be looked at in a different light when the gauge heads into the sizzling figures we have been enjoying in order to get the best from your TKM equipment.

So let’s start with the engine and to be more specific the carburation. The engine will quite naturally run much warmer and it is a fact that 2-stroke motors actually don’t like being too hot. The hotter air will give less power than you’d get on a cold, crisp, winter morning. To compensate for this you will need to run your air/fuel mixture richer – and that means winding the main high jet out further than normal. So if you normally run it at say a third of a turn open, when it is really hot then you will need to turn it out maybe to a half.

What I’d suggest is start at a half for a test session or practice and see if the engine pulls hard all the way down the straight. If it starts to 4-stroke (a feeling of roughness and loss of power in the higher rev range) then turn it in a tad and try again. If no 4-stroking then wind it out a little bit at a time until you do and then wind it back a tiny amount until the 4-stroking has vanished, which will pretty much give you perfect safe carburation!

If you are watching your youngster out on the track then a small puff of blue smoke from the exhaust when the power is applied after braking for a corner is a good sign that the engine is well set up. And remember the BT82, as a piston port engine, likes to run rich so going weaker does NOT give you extra power, it only overheats the engine after a few laps which then slows you down.

A word at this point on fuel. The colder petrol is, effectively the bigger bang it produces in the engine. So for the most basic advice don’t leave your fuel can or the kart petrol tank sitting in direct sun. It will lose a small amount of power. If you want to be really on top of the game than chill your fuel by putting a can in a cold box or even fridge. But leave room for some cold beer!

Let’s move next to the tyres, just as vital as the engine in the search for hot lap times in even hotter weather. Right now as I aim my gauge at the tarmac it reads 45¡C. That is seriously warm and it doesn’t take too much imagination to see that very quickly your tyres will be up at and exceeding the 65¡C recommended temperature for best results.

As I am pretty sure you will all be aware, the higher the pressure in your tyres the hotter they will get. So often in this country we are using higher pressure to get the tyres working. But in sizzling weather you will need to drop the pressures right down.

So with that sort of track temperature you will probably be running at about 8-9psi before you go on the track cold. And what you need to do is analyse how the tyres perform. If they work quickly and keep on working well then you know you have hit the sweet spot. If not, you may have to adjust a little to find the best compromise. Check the pressures right after they come off track. They should not have increased by more than 3psi. You can amend the cold pressures slightly to ensure they are all equal when hot.

On the subject of tyre pressures you must bear in mind that the weight of the driver makes a big difference to how much the tyres will heat up so don’t assume the same readings will apply for a light Junior compared to a tall and weighty Senior.

One other thing on tyres – a significant factor in their life is the number of heat cycles they go through. That’s going out on the track, getting them hot and then coming back in and cooling them down. That process gradually hardens the surface. So just remember that if you have your tyres sitting day after day in something like a van that becomes red hot, you are effectively putting them through heat cycles that will cause premature ageing.

On the chassis, the extra grip that really hot sticky tyres will give may well cause you to find the kart hopping on corners and probably bogging down out of them as the extra grip saps the power out of the engine. If so you need to move the rear and maybe the front wheels outward. But make sure you don’t go too wide and exceed the allowable limit of 140cm.

And so finally to the driver. They need special attention too by way of lots of cool liquid and keeping out of the direct sun when kitted up ready to go on track. I have seen plenty of kart drivers collapse after races in high temperatures so it is important to take it seriously and cool down after each race.

Oh and of course the most important thing is that the driver and pit crew will of course all need a really cold beer at the end of the day!

Formula TKM: September, 2013 Formula TKM News

Written By: Grahame Butterworth

Phew what a scorcher…just about the only way to sum up the British summer as I sit here in my Sprocket shorts tapping on the keys and putting all of this sunshine at risk by daring to suggest it might actually be here for more than a day or two.

So damn it let’s carry on down this risky route and remind you of what we all did when we actually had a summer, because for some of you it might easily be your first time of experiencing it on a race track.

It is no exaggeration to say that in the 30c temperatures we are currently enjoying the way that you run your kart can change quite significantly from the way it would be run over the past series of dismally wet and dull summers we have experienced.

Engine, tyres, chassis, fuel, driver…they all need to be looked at in a different light when the gauge heads into the sizzling figures we have been enjoying in order to get the best from your TKM equipment.

So let’s start with the engine and to be more specific the carburation. The engine will quite naturally run much warmer and it is a fact that 2-stroke motors actually don’t like being too hot. The hotter air will give less power than you’d get on a cold crisp winter morning.

To compensate for this you will need to run your air/fuel mixture richer – and that means winding the main high jet out further than normal. So if you normally run it at say a third of a turn open, when it is really hot then you will need to turn it out maybe to a half.

What I’d suggest is start at a half for a test session or practice and see if the engine pulls hard all the way down the straight. If it starts to 4-stroke (a feeling of roughness and loss of power in the higher rev range) then turn it in a tad and try again. If no 4-stroke then wind it out a little bit at a time until you do and then wind it back a tiny amount until the 4-stroking has vanished, which will pretty much give you perfect safe carburation!

If you are watching your youngster out on the track then a small puff of blue smoke from the exhaust when the power is applied after braking for a corner is a good sign that the engine is well set up. And remember the BT82, as a piston port engine, likes to run rich so going weaker does NOT give you extra power it only overheats the engine after a few laps which then slows you down.

A word at this point on fuel. The colder petrol is effectively the bigger bang it produces in the engine. So for the most basic advice don’t leave your fuel can or the kart petrol tank sitting in direct sun. It will lose a small amount of power.

If you want to be really on top of the game than chill your fuel by putting a can in a cold box or even fridge. But leave room for some cold beer!

Let’s move next to the tyres, just as vital as the engine in the search for hot lap times in even hotter weather. Right now as I aim my gauge at the tarmac it reads 45c. That is seriously warm and it doesn’t take too much imagination to see that very quickly your tyres will be up at and exceeding the 65c recommended temperature for best results.

As I am pretty sure you will all be aware, the higher the pressure in your tyres the hotter they will get. So often in this country we are using higher pressure to get the tyres working. But in sizzling weather than you will need to drop the pressures right down.

So with that sort of track temperature you will probably be running at about 8-9psi before you go on the track cold. And what you need to do is analyse how the tyres perform. If they work quickly and keep on working well then you know you have hit the sweet spot. If not you may have to adjust a little to find the best compromise. Check the pressures right after they come off track. They should not have increased by more than 3psi. You can amend the cold pressures slightly to ensure they are all equal when hot.

On the subject of tyre pressures you must bear in mind that the weight of the driver makes a big difference to how much the tyres will heat up so don’t assume the same readings will apply for a light Junior compared to a tall and weighty Senior.

One other thing on tyres…a significant factor in their life is the number of heat cycles they go through. That’s going out on the track, getting them hot and then coming back in and cooling them down. That process gradually hardens the surface. So just remember that if you have your tyres sitting day after day in something like a van that becomes red hot, you are effectively putting them through heat cycles that will cause premature ageing on them.

On the chassis, the extra grip that really hot sticky tyres will give may well cause you to find the kart hopping on corners and probably bogging down out of them as the extra grip saps the power out of the engine. If so you need to move the rear and maybe front wheels outward. But make sure you don’t go too wide and exceed the allowable limit of 140cm.

And so finally to the driver. They need special attention too by way of lots of cool liquid and keeping out of the direct sun when kitted up ready to go on track. I have seen plenty of kart drivers collapse after races in high temperatures so it is important to take it seriously and cool down after each race.

Oh and of course the most important thing is that the driver and pit crew will of course all need a really cold beer at the end of the day!

 

 

Formula TKM: August, 2013 Formula TKM News

Written By: Grahame Butterworth

So at Croft in the BTCC, former Irish TKM driver Colin Turkington won two races in masterly style with Tom Onslow Cole on the podium in a third and Phil Smith in there battling too. Both Tom and Phil front-runners at the TKM Festival just a few years back.

 

In support races Nathan Freke has his own team in Ginettas and takes the odd win or two. And Kieron Vernon, ex-champion of TKM 4-stroke, proved so good that Tim Harvey resigned on the spot from Porsche racing to hand over his car.

 

Switch channels and at Le Mans there is Anthony Davidson, a TKM peddler in the days of Jenson Button, taking 2nd place for Toyota and Oliver Jarvis, a Junior at the TKM Festival just a few years ago, 3rd place for Audi.

 

On to YouTube, and there is Robbie Kerr, another ex-TKM star, setting a new record time in a Radical to take yet another victory. And of course there are so many others including Katherine Legge racing at Indianapolis a week or two back.

 

At the end of the day what motor racing talent scouts are looking for are not winners who have bought their success by having spent a packet on the very best equipment known to man, but those who can jump in just about anything and go super fast.

 

And that’s why those guys looking for stars of the future always take a lot of interest in the TKM classes and especially the TKM Festival to chalk up potentials for years to come. This year they will have plenty to look at!

 

Regulations for the Festival together with entry forms and tyre order forms are now available on the TKM website at www.tal-ko.com and the club site, www.hkrc.co.uk.

 

All the classes are provided for including the Clubman guys who exceptionally are given the choice (at their request) of using new or secondhand tyres and using the old style wets. Everyone racing gets new Maxxis slicks at a discounted price.

 

Once again the weekend will feature Friday optional testing, Saturday practice and then Qualifying, followed by two heats. On Sunday a further heat and then a Prefinal and Final. So loads of racing for your money.

 

Motors TV will be featuring the event, there’s a disco and BBQ Saturday night – oh and demonstrations of historic Tal-Ko related karts and engines which will add to the events on Sunday.

 

With 107 TKMs racing at Shenington a week or so ago it is clear this will be a very popular event with a bumper entry expected so don’t miss the entry closing date of July 27 or you might miss out.

 

Now reverting back to my opening comments on the importance of finding raw talent rather than ‘bought’ talent, let’s just turn our thoughts for a moment to what has happened to karting over the past years.

 

The classes that have been so successful in this country – Comer Cadet, TKM and Rotax, have all been hugely popular and while they are all different in their approach, each have the advantage of commercial backing and offer what should be equal racing in terms of equipment.

 

TKM was a British creation to overcome the problem of engine costs racing out of control in classes like 100 Britain. In those days buy an engine today and it was outdated within a month – the 100 Britain class was crazy!

 

Then look at the progress by the CIK. They created the KF series classes internationally which for a variety of reasons, including spiralling costs, have simply destroyed a vast sector of karting across many countries including the UK to the point where even the MSA had to scrap their own KF championship.

 

The same kind of thing has happened in car racing where quite rightly competitors vote with their feet and money. This has left things like the British F3 championship almost at the point of collapse and underlines the need for governing bodies like the MSA and CIK to take a realistic view of what they are proposing and legislating.

 

So with the MSA now in some ways quite rightly taking the helm to control implementation of new classes, it is also vital that they look very carefully, commercially and wisely at what will be permitted because the crystal clear and simple fact is that you cannot force a class on drivers.

 

The Super Cadet class was a perfect example of how not to do it. Multi engines meant mega costs and guess what it all crashed and burned very quickly. And who created that? The MSA. And who predicted the crash? TKM!

 

So the message is very clear, while some greater control on the birth of classes is needed, huge up-front costs to the trade, badly conceived ideas and too many ‘homologated’ parts might just kill karting as we know it and send everyone to the expanding world of non-MSA racing. [End bullet]

 

[Pullquote if required]

(Consists of 8 lines – 1 x line of space above, 6 x lines of text ranged right, 1 x line of space below. To be in the third row of 8 lines up from bottom of page. Coloured opening quote mark in 11pt LFT Etica Display Heavy ranged left. Text and closing quote mark in 11/10pt LFT Etica SemiBold)

 

“TKM was a British creation to overcome the problem of engine costs racing out of control in classes like 100 Britain.”

Formula TKM: August, 2013 Formula TKM News

Written By: Grahame Butterworth

The great thing about a closely controlled single engine kart formula like TKM is that it really helps drivers refine their skills to find the last fraction of performance. And that brings the very best to the top as the weekend’s TV proved.

Ok I was a couch potato and over the last weekend there were ex TKM drivers all over just about every race I watched on the TV underlining the fact that while money helps, pure talent always rises.

So at Croft in the BTCC, ex Irish TKM driver Colin Turkington won two races in masterly style with Tom Onslow Cole on the podium in a third and Phil Smith in there battling too. Both Tom and Phil front-runners at the TKM Festival just a few years back.

In support races Nathan Freke has his own team in Ginetta’s and takes the odd win or two. And Kieron Vernon, ex champion of TKM 4-stroke, proved so good Tim Harvey resigned on the spot from Porsche racing to hand over his car.

Switch channels and at Le Mans there is Anthony Davidson, a TKM peddler in the days of Jenson Button, taking a second place for Toyota and Oliver Jarvis, a Junior at the TKM Festival just a few years ago, third place for Audi.

On to You Tube, and there is Robbie Kerr, another ex TKM star, setting a new record time in a Radical to take yet another victory. And of course there are so many others including Katherine Legge racing at Indianapolis a week or two back.

At the end of the day what motor racing talent scouts are looking for are not winners who have bought their success by having spent a packet on the very best equipment known to man, but those who can jump in just about anything and go super fast.

And that’s why those guys looking for stars of the future always take a lot of interest in the TKM classes and especially the TKM Festival to chalk up potentials for years to come. This year they will have plenty to look!

Regulations for the Festival together with entry forms and tyre order forms are now available on the TKM website at www.tal-ko.com and the club site, www.hkrc.co.uk

All the classes are provided for including the Clubman guys who exceptionally are given the choice (at their request) of using new or second hand tyres and using the old style wets. Everyone racing gets new Maxxis slicks at discounted price.

Once again the weekend will feature Friday optional testing, Saturday practice and then qualifying, followed by two heats. On Sunday a further heat and then a pre-final and final. So loads of racing for your money.

Motors TV will be featuring the event, there’s a disco and BBQ Saturday night – oh and demonstrations of historic Tal-Ko related karts and engines which will add to the events on Sunday.

With 107 TKMs racing at Shenington a week or so ago it is clear this will be a very popular event with a bumper entry expected so don’t miss the entry closing date of July 27 or you might miss out.

Now reverting back to my opening comments on the importance of finding raw talent rather than ‘bought’ talent, let’s just turn our thoughts for a moment to what has happened to karting over the past years.

The classes that have been so successful in this country – Comer Cadet, TKM and Rotax have all been hugely popular and while they are all different in their approach, each have the advantage of commercial backing and offer what should be equal racing in terms of equipment.

TKM was a British creation to overcome the problem of engine costs racing out of control in classes like 100 Britain. In those days buy an engine today and it was outdated within a month – the 100 Britain class was crazy!

Then look at the progress by the CIK…they created the new KF series classes internationally which for a variety of reasons including spiralling costs, have simply destroyed a vast sector of karting across many countries including the UK to the point where even the MSA had to scrap their own KF championship.

The same kind of thing has happened in car racing where quite rightly competitors vote with their feet and money. This has left things like the British F3 championship almost at the point of collapse and underlines the need for governing bodies like the MSA and CIK to take a realistic view of what they are proposing and legislating.

So with the MSA now in some ways quite rightly taking the helm to control implementation of new classes, it is also vital that they look very carefully, commercially and wisely at what will be permitted because the crystal clear and simple fact is that you cannot force a class on drivers.

The Super Cadet class was a perfect example of how not to do it. Multi engines meant mega costs and guess what it all crashed and burned very quickly. And who created that…the MSA. And who predicted the crash…TKM!

So the message is very clear, while some greater control on the birth of classes is needed, huge up-front costs to the trade, badly conceived ideas and too many ‘homologated’ parts might just kill karting as we know it and send everyone to the expanding world of non MSA racing.

Sidney Sprocket

 

 

 

Formula TKM: July, 2013 Formula TKM News

Written By: Grahame Butterworth

Suddenly there is so much going on in TKM with two championships just bursting into life, a special test day at Whilton Mill, and the Festival at Kimbolton just around the corner.

Let’s start with the S1 champs which started unusually late this year with the first round at Rowrah and inevitably in this country, in quickly changing weather conditions. Some excellent driving in both Junior and Senior categories saw double wins for Matt Davies and Will Van Es.

In the club champs more than 50 turned up to Kimbolton for the first round meaning double grids for both Junior and Senior TKM classes. Again some excellent racing in tricky conditions underlines the fact that this is going to be another very closely contested series.

By the time you read this they should all be at Shenington for their two day Superprix meeting and I am sure some more packed grids.

On the TKM Festival front the good news is that Maxxis are once again supporting the event which takes place over the usual weekend of August 9-11. Added to the traditional great racing, disco, BBQ, Motors TV coverage, etc there will also be an on track demonstration of TKM & Hewland Arrow engine powered historic karts this year.

The class categories includes a special one for the Clubman class pioneered at Shenington which will run to its usual regulations subject to a couple of amendments requested by drivers in that they can use free gearing and can use either new control slicks or used tyres. For wets (which we hope no-one need!) they will use the old style red label wets.

Entry details, regs etc should be available as this mag hits the streets from the www.tal-ko.com and www.hkrc.co.uk websites. Oh and there is a very firm closing date of July 27 for entries so don’t be late or you might not get in because it looks like being a bonanza year for entries.

So let’s move on to some techy stuff and bearing in mind the incredibly changeable weather we are having let’s look carefully at the question of what to do on tyres and set up on those all too often days when it rains and dries and rains and…well you know the feeling!

Of course the simple answer is that you should always be on the correct tyres for the conditions, but the reality is that sometimes that is simply impossible and made all the more difficult by the time it takes to change four wheels – not quite an F1 three seconds.

The latest Maxxis slick tyres work wonderfully well on a dry track and if you are brave they are pretty good on a damp track too, particularly if you can get some heat into them. But – they will not work through puddles which will just lift them straight off the track and put you off the circuit.

So first rule is obviously don’t use slicks if there are puddles and standing water on the track surface. No amount of tweaks will make them work.

But what is good is to deliberately try driving on slicks when the track is in damp condition on a test day. There is no substitute for learning the art of getting the kart to turn in and then using power and rear wheel spin to effectively control the steering. Mastering that will certainly help your ability.

Clearly when the track is fully wet then wet tyres are the right and obvious choice. The deep grooves in the tread pattern are designed to throw the water off the surface and provide you with some grip. The fact that you are driving on less surface area of tyre means it applies more pressure on the track surface and gives extra grip.

Tyre pressures will vary but in truly wet conditions then you are likely to be using about 15 psi, less in hot conditions and more in cold conditions up to even 35psi. And the rim widths probably 120mm front and 150mm rear.

But then we come to that middle ground when the track is not that wet but equally not dry enough for slicks. That is the time when if you are able you should have a set of ‘intermediates’.

OK you can’t buy them as such but effectively they are wets that have had the best of their grooved treads worn away with use. So effectively what you get is a tyre with less tread depth but enough to clear the smaller amount of water. And because the tread has been worn it will have got wider so there is more contact area on the track and more importantly will not overheat as much.

Mount them on wider 130mm and 180mm rims and you have tyres with enough grooves to move water but more patch to give you grip and still work on a drying track. Again pressures will depend on ambient temperature. On a hot day when it is going to dry quickly maybe just 10psi. In colder conditions maybe 18psi.

And remember the clever trick on hedging your bets on which to use as you sit on the dummy grid. Set up one side with slicks and the other with wets. That way when you make your final decision you only have two wheels to change.

Oh and finally, do remember you should always take to the grid a set of appropriate alternative tyres, pressured so you can take air out to get them right, and the tools to change them if needed as well as a pressure gauge.

And the ideal one tweak to give maximum advantage if it suddenly starts to rain, spanners to give the tie rods a quick twist and give a good chunk of toe out.

Just don’t forget to do up the wheel nuts!

Sidney Sprocket

Formula TKM: July, 2013 Formula TKM News

Written By: Grahame Butterworth

In the club champs more than 50 turned up to Kimbolton for the first round meaning double grids for both Junior and Senior TKM classes. Again some excellent racing in tricky conditions underlines the fact that this is going to be another very closely contested series. By the time you read this they should all be at Shenington for their two day SuperPrix meeting and I am sure some more packed grids.

 

On the TKM Festival front the good news is that Maxxis are once again supporting the event which takes place over the usual weekend of August 9-11. Added to the traditional great racing, disco, BBQ, Motors TV coverage etc there will also be an on track demonstration of TKM and Hewland Arrow engine powered historic karts.

 

The class categories include a special one for the Clubman class pioneered at Shenington which will run to its usual regulations subject to a couple of amendments requested by drivers in that they can use free gearing and can use either new control slicks or used tyres. For wets (which we hope no-one will need!) they will use the old style red label wets.

 

Entry details, regs etc should be available as this mag hits the streets from the www.tal-ko.com and www.hkrc.co.uk websites. Oh and there is a very firm closing date of July 27 for entries so don’t be late or you might not get in because it looks like being a bonanza year for entries.

 

Let’s now move on to some techy stuff and bearing in mind the incredibly changeable weather we are having let’s look carefully at the question of what to do on tyres and set-up on those all too often days when it rains and dries and rains and – well you know the feeling!

 

Of course the simple answer is that you should always be on the correct tyres for the conditions, but the reality is that sometimes that is simply impossible and made all the more difficult by the time it takes to change four wheels – not quite an F1 three seconds.

 

The latest Maxxis slicks work really well on a dry track and if you are brave they are pretty good on a damp track too, particularly if you can get some heat into them. But, they will not work through puddles which will just lift them straight off the track and put you off the circuit.

 

So the first rule is obviously don’t use slicks if there are puddles and standing water on the track surface. No amount of tweaks will make them work.

 

But what is good is to deliberately try driving on slicks when the track is in a damp condition on a test day. There is no substitute for learning the art of getting the kart to turn in and then using power and rear wheel spin to effectively control the steering. Mastering that will certainly help your ability.

 

Clearly when the track is fully wet then wet tyres are the right and obvious choice. The deep grooves in the tread pattern are designed to throw the water off the surface and provide you with some grip. The fact that you are driving on less surface area of tyre means it applies more pressure on the track surface and gives extra grip. Tyre pressures will vary but in truly wet conditions then you are likely to be using about 15psi, less in hot conditions and more in cold conditions up to even 35psi. And the rim widths probably 120mm front and 150mm rear.

 

But then we come to that middle ground when the track is not that wet but equally not dry enough for slicks. That is the time when if you are able you should have a set of ‘intermediates’.

 

OK you can’t buy them as such but effectively they are wets that have had the best of their grooved treads worn away with use. So effectively what you get is a tyre with less tread depth but enough to clear the smaller amount of water. And because the tread has been worn it will have got wider so there is more contact area on the track and more importantly will not overheat as much.

 

Mount them on wider 130mm and 180mm rims and you have tyres with enough grooves to move water but more patch to give you grip and still work on a drying track. Again pressures will depend on ambient temperature. On a hot day when it is going to dry quickly maybe just 10psi. In colder conditions maybe 18psi.

 

And remember the clever trick on hedging your bets on which to use as you sit on the dummy grid. Set up one side with slicks and the other with wets. That way when you make your final decision you only have two wheels to change.

 

Oh, and finally, do remember you should always take to the grid a set of appropriate alternative tyres, pressured so you can take air out to get them right, and the tools to change them if needed as well as a pressure gauge.

 

And the ideal one tweak to give maximum advantage if it suddenly starts to rain, spanners to give the tie rods a quick twist and give a good chunk of toe out.

 

Just don’t forget to do up the wheel nuts! [