All posts by Piers Prior

A taste of the golden era – F100 Review

As a 19 year old I missed out on what some refer to as the ‘golden era’ of karting in the late 80’s, and early 90’s. Screaming 100cc engines, rapid karts, amazing racing, no bumpers, and huge passion, its one of the things I envy not being a part of. However, there are a group of people recreating these amazing times, namely the ‘F100 – Spirit of the 90’s’ series, and I was lucky enough to be invited along to the recent F100 Festival at Fulbeck kart circuit to get a taste of the action.

F100 Festival

The F100 festival is an event put on by the organisers of series as a showcase of the championship and machinery, a chance for people to try out the karts, and to give something back to the current drivers in the series.

Jay Fairbrass, one of organisers of the series who instrumental in putting the F100 Festival together, had organised two ‘arrive and drive’ F100 karts for drivers to come and experience. There was a Pre95 class Tonykart, and Chris Trott’s very own British and Open championship winning Pre2000 Wright (pictured above); what a treat! It is very rare that anyone gets to drive a fully race prepared British championship machine, I felt truly privileged that they trusted me with their immaculately restored karts.

The event also held seminars on Carb stetup and tuning, chassis setup, and much more by some of the more experienced members of the F100 paddock, these were enjoyed by all and really set the tone of the event. One thing I noticed about the F100 paddock was how helpful and friendly everyone was, everyone was there as a team with a passion for these karts and the sport, this is something that is too rare nowadays.

F100 Championship

The championship runs in 3 classes, Pre89, Pre95, Pre2000, with the names being pretty self explanatory. The chassis and engines that run in each class were first homologated in during this period, and thus will run at the same pace. Small differences such as the tyres used, and other smaller specifications differ, more information on this can be found at http://www.f100.co.uk/regulations/

The races are a standard sprint format with qualifying, heats, and a final. The championship runs independently and thus does not require entrants to fork out for an MSA racing licence, medical etc, Simply prepare your karts, sign up, and race.

The 6 round championship over the year visits some of the county’s best circuits including Whilton mill, Buckmore, Lydd, Rowrah as well as circuits that were raced in period such as Fulbeck and Clay pigeon, giving the championship an authentic retro atmosphere.

The event and series coordinator Jay Fairbrass and myself as I climb excitedly from his kart

Its not just about nostalgia however, the racing is fast, furious, as competitive as any other championship out there especially at the front of the grid. The karts and the feeling are the main attraction for most backed up by British champion Chris Trott who said to me “The karts are the way a kart should be; they’re light and simple. The atmosphere in the paddock too, everybody’s here doing what they enjoy, thats something thats completely missing from modern karting. Its karting as it should be.”

This was seconded by Alex Cobb who has raced in a lot of different classes and series, he says “I wasn’t around when these were the modern karts. I’m not a big historic fan, I’m not here for that, they’re fun to drive, they just fly off the corners, they’re lively. The grids are in the 30’s with A and B finals, I’m just here for good fun racing.” Alex also touched on the cost of the series saying “The startup cost is much lower [than modern karting]. You can get a good motor for about £500, its just the more frequent rebuilds, but they’re also cheaper to rebuild than a modern sealed engine.” There are also no new parts, all the chassis are preowned, all the engines are the way they are, no new updates to keep adding to the costs.

Driving the karts

After watching the screaming 100cc motors flying round, sounding and smelling great it was my chance to try them for myself.

Pre95

Up first was a pre95 tonykart. I must admit it was slightly strange initially for me to go out on circuit without a front bumper, my feet dangling out exposed in front of me, however the kart was very natural to drive.

Before the festival the last kart I had driven was the CompKart X30 at Whilton mill. I didn’t really know what to expect, I had heard they were pretty quick but other than that everyone just described them as ‘mega!’.

After some laps acclimatising to the kart, which was far different to what I had expected, I got a feel and started to push, this is when the kart really came alive. The kart didn’t actually feel stupidly quick due to the linear power output despite the high speeds they reach. Moreover, the fairly hard Mitas control tyres that are run in the Pre95 class didn’t provide excessive of grip on the Fulbeck tarmac, however this was part of the beauty.

The limited grip and super light chassis meant the kart floated around the circuit effortlessly. Braking was done with the touch of the pedal, the steering is very light thanks to the lack of weight and hard tyres meaning the whole experience felt as if I were thinking my way around the circuit; the kart was an extension of my body.

Pre2000

Having had a taste of F100 action I would next be sampling the crème de la crème of the series, the no.1 plate Pre2000 kart owned and prepared to the highest standard by Chris Trott. I asked Jay Fairbrass how it might differ from the Pre95, his reply was one word, “More”.

More?! More what?

The phrase ‘a picture tells a thousand words’ has never been more apt, however in this case a picture just tells one… ‘More!’

More: More power, more grip, more speed, more flair, just so much more.

For the first laps I was under instruction to take it easy and warm myself and the kart up, I was being teased, as I felt everything coming on song I just wanted to unleash the beast. The wave from Mr Trott himself signalled the moment I had been waiting for.

The kart sings to you, out the corners a slight slide (pictured) is encouraged, the direct drive engine picks up without hesitation, and it revs until you think its going to stop but just keeps going. The power is very manageable, the smaller 100cc engine provides less torque than a modern 125cc but delivers its power over a wider rev band meaning less of a ‘kick’ in the mid range. You have power bottom, middle and top which means the kart is more controllable and driver friendly.

Don’t get me wrong I love driving modern day karts, but there’s something so pure, so tactile and refined about driving one of these machines. Its the simplicity, just and engine, a kart, a driver, and a circuit. It really is the purest form of karting, man and machine in perfect harmony. If you ever get the chance to drive one of these, take it!

How to race in F100

The next round of the championship is on the 27th/28th My at the stunning Rowrah where the racing is set to be awesome. Entries close this Friday (19th May) so get yourself in quick before it fills up!

Other events to look out for this year include the ‘Open Championship’ fight for the O plate. This is a one off race weekend not part of the championship and includes the novel two flying lap qualifying making things even more interesting.

All the information you need about entering is available on the brilliantly helpful F100 – Spirit of the 90’s website

Ride onboard with Nick Holland in the Pre95 class at Rowrah

A massive thanks must go to Jay, and all of the organisers who put on a truly stunning event for the benefit of their series and all of it’s members. I must also thank James Meanwell for taking time from his day testing to get all of the great photos above when we were in a bit of a sticky situation last minute, again showing how helpful everyone is.

I truly hope I get to drive one of these karts again one day, hopefully in a full race environment as that would only make the experience better.

Until then don’t hesitate to contact the F100 team at http://www.f100.co.uk/contact/ for more information, & how to get involved, you won’t regret it.

Written by Piers Prior

Images courtesy of James Meanwell

 

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F100 onboard at Lonato

Arrive and Drive to MSA – Whilton Weekend

Arrive and Drive to MSA – Whilton Weekend

You may have been reading my monthly A&D roundup articles, I’m a huge fan of the British A&D scene and it’s where I have been primarily racing for the last 5 years. Arrive and drive karting is very popular with large grids in many club and national championships such as Club100, DMAX, Covkartsport, NKL, Buckmore, the list is goes on.

Recently I was given a golden opportunity by Enzo Motorsport and Crown Windows to enter the Whilton mill MSA club championships in their premier class, Senior X30, here’s what I made of it.

The Class – IAME X30

Senior X30 is the main senior category raced at Whilton Mill. Since its introduction a few years ago it has quickly risen to become one of, if not the most popular class in Britain, overtaking the monopoly Rotax has had on the UK market.

The class runs an IAME 2-stroke, 125cc engine revving to 16,000rpm, produces approximately 30hp, and weighs in at just 164kg with kart and driver. The control tyre is the Komet K1H slick which provides massive grip. All this means lap times around Whilton in one of these rockets are approximately 7-8 seconds a lap faster than the fastest A&D karts, and they definitely feel it!

Testing

Enzo motorsport had organised for me to partake in testing on both the Friday and Saturday before the Sunday races. We had high hopes for the weekend and wanted to give ourselves the best chance of a good result.

The Friday test was a chance to find our feet as the team hadn’t had much experience at Whilton mill or on the Compkart chassis. Moreover, this would be my first race weekend in an MSA karting event since spring 2012.

My main focus for the day was to learn how to use and make the most of the adjustable Tillotson carburettor which changes the fuel/air mixture to the engine with the screws on the carb. Adjusting the settings correctly is critical to being on the pace. Luckily Enzo motorsport’s resident engine guru Brian Lawrence was on hand to help me learn how the engine should feel, when to adjust the mixture.

Saturday is when most other drivers would be testing, and the first chance we would have to see how we stacked up against our competition. We were struggling to perfect the balance of the kart’s handling in the first couple of sessions, however in the last we made a change to widen the rear width which settled the kart down and made it much more drivable. Things were looking good ahead of the races on Sunday.

Race Day

The time had come, judgement day, if you will.

After a quick practise session the kart felt dialled in which made Heat 1 a dream start. Starting 15th I made my way to 5th with a move to take 3 karts on the last lap.

Heat 2 & 3 were more of a struggle as the track evolved changing the handling of the kart. I was spun by another driver from 2nd in heat 2 but salvaged 11th place. Heat 3 went much better and we made a gain of 8 places from going from 18th to 10th. Despite my spin in heat 2 I qualified in 5th for the final out of 24 entries, better than we had anticipated.

Picture thanks to Slawek Piskorz

Over the lunch break a group photo on the start finish straight was taken of everyone with their #BillyWhizz stickers showing support for a well know face amongst the Karting community, Billy Monger who sadly lost his lower legs in an incident in his F4 race at Donington park just a week before. Get well soon Billy.

The final race of the day and the main event. Starting 5th gave me a great opportunity to make up places and fight for a win, or at the very least achieve a good result.

After a good start I found myself in 4th place, but I was struggling a little for pace. The lead group of 3 were just edging away and I was gradually being pulled in by the pack behind. As the race progressed I gradually fell back and was briefly knocked down to 7th. One of the leaders succumbed to a mechanical issue which meant I finally finished where I started in 5th place, which was a good result for myself and the team in our debut MSA event.

How different is MSA racing?

Having raced in almost every category of A&D karting I’ve experienced lots of different types of racing, from out and out sprints, all the way to 24 hour races. In general, the racing in every category is very respectful at the front end of the field, and the longer the races the more patient the racing is, with less aggressive moves and contact. Sprint racing such as in Club100 and Dmax has more cut and thrust intense racing, but considering the large bumpers the racing is overall quite clean. My experience from this weekend has suggested that everything is very much the same, while aggressive and ruthless the racing is very clean, which isn’t something I expected from the reputation I have through the grape vine, and think this is largely thanks to the drop-down nose cones.

A rule introduced in early 2016 enforced the addition of a drop down nose cone mount means when the nose is pressed with enough force (a tap on the back of another kart is enough) it will slip back and drop down which is then noted at the end of the race by scrutineers and 10 seconds is added to your race time, this is on a no blame and no appeal basis. This basically means if you touch another kart with your bumper you get a 10s penalty. This has eradicated the problem of loading at the start of a race which took victims in most races, and stops any deliberate ‘push to pass’ manoeuvres.

The professionalism and competition was the main difference I noticed while at the circuit. A lot of people are spending lots of money to do well in these series, with teams being fully fledged businesses. The size of some of the awnings demonstrates that this is more than a hobby to many people. To get a good result is much harder as the spread of ability amongst the drivers is far smaller, and any marginal gain in time will push you further up the field due to how close the racing is. To win even at this club level requires you, your team, and the equipment to be performing to the max, this is what has people coming back week after week.

Driving the kart

Obviously, the karts are much faster than any A&D kart and with that adds thrill factor. The G-forces are considerably higher due to the softer tyres, and thus the karts are much more physical to drive, but interestingly in a very different way to A&D karts. I am used to driving long stints, up to and over an hour and half in hire karts, and I rarely struggle physically, the only thing that usually gets fatigued are my hands from holding onto the steering wheel. In these karts after a 12-minute final I feel the same as if I’ve done over an hour in an A&D kart. My fore arms get pumped up with blood and lactic acid, the muscles in my upper back really feel it too, and just to prove how much force goes through your body in a kart like this, I broke one of my ribs in the final; three days in a row in one of these is machines is killer, I am fit and active 19-year-old, and it literally broke me! If you’re making the step across to try it out from A&D karting I would strongly recommend training hard for at least a few months beforehand, and maybe ease into it with a few test days.

The technique to achieving a fast lap time is also slightly different. The chassis is a lot softer and with the extra grip from the tyres the chassis flexes much more, however there is a far smaller margin for error. Your body is a fundamental part of the chassis which is a major contributing factor to why they require so much effort to drive. If your body isn’t rigid and strong in the corners the kart won’t work as it’s supposed to, but all this makes it so much more satisfying when you hook up a lap.

Racing with a team

While it isn’t necessary to race in a team there are many advantages, and in my opinion one the best things about being in team is the atmosphere. When you do well everyone around you is there to share the feeling, and when you have a hard race you’ve got a group of people there to raise your spirits. I had so much fun over the weekend and a large part of this was the enjoyment I got as being part of the Enzo Motorsport and Crown Windows team, having such a good group of people around you makes a huge difference, and something you can’t replicate in solo A&D karting. Not only did I have lot of fun in the paddock but thanks to their hard work the kart was rapid and we were able to achieve a good result in our first meeting at a team.

Enzo motorsport team Enzo Buscaglia, Scott Lambert, and Brian Lawrence

Conclusion

Returning to MSA racing after a few years out has made me appreciate how good the A&D scene is in this country. For most the amount and variety of series out there will be more than enough to be content with, however for those seeking that extra thrill and intensity of racing, or even wishing to take their career further the MSA side of karting is a great experience. The decision to move over should not be taken lightly as success requires a large amount of commitment, financially, physically, and emotionally, but at the end of the day the rewards can be great.

Enzo motorsport were a great team and are a perfect place to start your MSA experience. They have karts for hire for tests or races, or bring your own kart and learn from the team. Having run with them for the race weekend at Whilton I highly recommend them for their philosophy, atmosphere, and expertise, so much so I will be racing with them for the rest of the season.

For more info get in touch with Enzo Buscaglia on 07599054298 or via email at enzo@enzomotorsport.co.uk. They have packages available for a variety of budgets and scenarios.

Many thanks to Stu Stretton for the mega photographs.

Arrive and Drive column – March

March has been and gone, and it was a cracker for A&D racing. We’ve got DMAX, Club100, two BUKC rounds and the NKL for you here, as well as A&D driver of the month.

BUKC Rounds 5&6 – GYG

Rounds 5 and 6 of the BUKC championship were held at the beautiful GYG in Wales. The circuit was a hit with all the drivers, the undulation and fast slowing corners made for some great racing. The picturesque Welsh countryside and beautiful spring weather made for some beautiful photos from Mr Karting, Stu Stretton.

In the sprints the were wins for Sheffield A, Cambridge A, UWS, Exeter A, Oxford Brookes A&C.

Sheffield A took the sprints round 1 victory from championship contenders Oxford Brookes A and Loughborough A.

The round 6 enduros where won by Loughborough A, Liverpool A, and Exeter A.

Leeds Beckett A, Liverpool A, and Coventry B were the Inter Enduro winners.

Overall Loughborough A took the points win ahead of Huddersfield A and Oxford Brookes B.

Dmax – Sandown Park

Full reports and results can be found on the DMAX website.

Light Heats

The light heats of the second round of the championship was something to behold. Max O’Shaughnessy was jumped by a brilliant start from Axel Slijepcevic who quickly built a lead. However the chasing pack caught him in the middle of the race with William Thomas applying the pressure. Axel backed him into the pack and caused a seven kart fight for the lead at one stage. In the end Axel held off Max O’Shaughnessy by just under 2 tenths, with Sam Lovelace rounding out the podium.

Catch all the coverage from the heats and enduros on the Daytona YouTube Channel

That leaves Axel Slijepcevic leading the championship by just 7 points over Max O’Shaughnessy, with the rest of the field a little way back.

Inter Heats

Bobby Trundey maintained his round 1 form by taking a very convincing lights to flag victory extending his lead to up to 10 seconds as the battles between Mike Coppin and Tor Ryan ensued. After some great racing a controversial move by Tor Ryan on Mike Coppin left Mike in the pits (unintentionally) and Tor with a black flag, thus handing podium places to Chris Hackworth and Jordan Taylor.

Bobby Trundley is charging away in the championship standings now with a very healthy lead.

Heavy Heats

Tomek Zaustowicz took Rob Bennet very early in the race and managed the gap with very consistent fast times to take victory. Adrian Wisniewski took third after a tough battle.

Tomek is in a very commanding position at the head of the championship and Rob Bennet is in a comfortable 2nd place.

Heavy Enduro

In the heavy enduro Tomek confirmed himself as the heavy owner of Sandown Park by taking victory. He was however pushed very hard by Adam Nakar who finished just three tenths of a second down after an hour of racing.

Inter Enduro 

The early part of the race saw a battle between Bobby Trundley and multiple former champion Chris Hackworth, they were then caught by James Perry who eventually found his way to the front being chased by Hackworth.

James was able to protect and extend his lead to 2.5 seconds by the end of the race, followed by Hackworth and Allan Curtis. Bobby Trundley fell away towards the end of the race eventually being caught and passed by Xander Mahony.

Light Enduro

Drama early on as Axel Slijepcevic crashed out of the race as drizzle fell. This left a commanding victory for Max O’Shaughnessy ahead of Tom Kempynck and the hard charging Dante Dhillon who couldn’t quite catch Kempynck despite setting some of the fastest laps toward the end of the race.

Kameron Khan and Max O’Shaughnessy are now tied for the lead of the championship after a difficult weekend for Khan, with Cameron Noble in third.

@kartPFi twitter

Next stop for the DMAX contingent is the mega PFi circuit, one of the best circuits and facilities in the country. It’s the first visit for a couple of years so some with varied experience amongst the drivers it may cause for some mixed up races.

Club100 Round 2 – Whilton Mill International 

The second round of the Club100 championship visited the fast Whilton Mill International circuit. Full reports can be found on the Club100 website. With results and standings available on Alpha timing here.

Catch all the race again on the Club100 Youtube channel.

Clubman

Early in the heats James Taylor looked the pick of the bunch having taken 2 heat wins, however Jack Bolton’s consistency bagged him pole for the final.

Justin Buck rose from third to take the win from Jack bolton and Stuart Gough, but with Gough getting a penalty this promoted James Taylor to 3rd place.

Elite

Ian Blake took pole position after very commanding drives in the heats. However in the final both Joe Holmes and Steve Brown found a way past to come over the line first and second. However Holmes received a penalty promoting Jack harding to the podium.

This leaves Steve Brown with a large early championship lead of 38 points after winning both round 1 and 2. Jack Harding is in second after his second 3rd place in as many meetings.

Lightweight

Dominic Green was in fine form, taking pole and winning the pre final by six seconds, only to be demoted to second after knocking a cone over. He the put it right in the final by taking victory leading every lap. Sam Nash was his only close competition, with BRDC rising star Jordan Albert rounding out the podium after F3 racer Thomas Maxwell was penalised for contact and dropped down the order.

Freddie Fincham is now in the championship lead after consistent top 6 finishes. Darri Simms is 2nd after hitting trouble in Final 2, with Sam Nash 3rd.

Heavyweight

Wins for Mark Ridout and Steve Bodley in finals 1 and 2 respectively leaves these two separtaed by just 3 points at the top of the championship standings, Ridout currently has the advantage.

BUKC Round 7&8 – Whilton Mill International

The culmination of the 2017 BUKC was held at a cool but dry Whilton mill where in the Prems it would be a fight between Oxford Brookes A and Loughborough A who entered separated by just a couple of points.

The sprints for round 7 were as frantic as ever with wins for Reading A, Loughborough C, Sheffield A, Brunel A, Nottingham A, and Oxford Brookes C.

Overall that left Brunel A, Loughborough A, and Oxford Brookes C on the podium.

The Enduros that would decide the prem title came down to the wire. Loughborough and Oxford Brookes were separated by just a point or two.

In the last race of the season Oxford Brookes A got caught up in an incident loosing them precious laps, and thus handing the title to loughborough A, who didn’t know they were champions until the podium ceremony.

Therefore the overall season sees Loughborough A take the championship in what must be one of the closest championship tie breakers ever. Tied on points, and with the same number of wins, seconds, thirds, fourths, and fifths. The championship was decided by most points at round 1 which was won by Loughborough A. Bookes A take 2nd from Brookes C.

                               Oxford Brooks A                        Loughborough A                       Oxford Brookes C

The inters were won by Nottingham trent ahead of Warwick B and Birmingham B. This is where the celebrations began…

…and they carried on way into the night at the famous BUKC party

Until next year BUKC.

A lot of banditry in one picture… and a dog

NKL Round 2 – Whilton Mill

All the action from the second round of the NKL championship at Whilton mill was live streamed on the NKL Facebook page, if you missed it you’ll find it here.

This month James Saunders triumphed ahead of Brandon Williams, and Karl Spencer.

James found the front early on in the A final before Louis Dymond made his way from fourth to replace James briefly before fading away slightly to 4th, where he would finish. Brandon Williams made a poor start but used his experience to calve his way back to second place. Karl Spencer rounded out the podium after trading places with Dymond numerous times.

A&D driver of the month

This months nominations were:

Axel Slijepcevic – DMAX sprint win

Jessica Alexander – BUKC Lightweight drivers championship winner, 2nd in superfinal

James Perry – Debut winner in DMAX Inter enduro

James Taylor – Consistent front running in Club100 Clubman championship

Robert Newman – BUKC 2nd in Lightweight drivers championship, 1st in superfinal.

And the winner voted for by you is…

Robert Newman

A well deserved driver having been one of the dominant drivers in the 2017 BUKC championship, and then winning the overall Drivers’ championship event.

A special mention for a large amount of support for James Perry after his debut win in DMAX, only a few votes behind Robert.

Feel free to suggest who you think should be nominated for the April article over social media using @KartingMagzine #Kartingmag

 

We Look forward to some warmer racing as the weather turns in our favour.

 

Written by Piers Prior

 

Like this article? Read more Arrive and drive column’s here:

Arrive and drive column – February

Arrive and drive column – Janruary

Arrive and drive column – December

Arrive and drive column – November

A&D driver of the month nominations – March

There have been so many races in pretty much every A&D series over the last month with so many great drives that creating a shortlist has been very hard. However the nominated drivers are as follows…

Axel Slijepcevic

Axel won one of the most hectic and chaotic sprint races of the year so far at Sandown park as part of DMAX’s second round in the light heats.

 

Jessica Alexander 

Jess has been a star driver all season this year in the BUKC for Strathclyde university. She proved that she is one of the quickest student drivers around by winning the closely contested BUKC Lightweight drivers championship beating Robert Newman after a nail-biting final race. The drivers championship is a one of event held at the end of each season, this year at Whilton Mill international, just a day after the BUKC season finale.

James Perry 

James took a very well worked victory in the DMAX inter enduro at Sandown park for round 2 of the championship from third place after a great fight with Chris Hackworth for a large proportion of the race. James was on fire setting fastest lap on route to his debut win in the series win.

James Taylor

James Taylor has been in great form this season in the Club100 Clubman championship. He qualified on pole for the final at Buckmore, and this month at Whilton mill qualified 2nd for the final after winning 2 heats after making big gains. He finished 3rd in the final and has boosted himself to a fairly healthy championship lead with his consistent front running pace after just 2 rounds.

Robert Newman

Rob Newman got one back on Jess Alexander after finishing 2nd in the BUKC light drivers championship by taking victory in the Superfinal at the end of the day (Top 10 drivers from the lights, heavies, and graduates, grid position by finishing position in their respective category). He drove from 4th in the grid to take a great victory and the overall drivers championship crown.

Let us know who you think deserves to win the A&D Driver of the Month by using the contact methods below:

Facebook – @kartingmagazine
Twitter – @kartingmagazine
Email – news@kartingmagazine.com

The winner will be announced later this week in the Arrive & Drive article, get voting!

GPK Series Kart Review

The GPK Series is a brand new championship that was recently launched by Daytona Motorsport, owners of many premier kart circuits around the country, as well as the organisers of the DMAX championship. The series offers drivers the chance to race in some of the fastest karts in the country at the best circuits on a level playing field, with a prize fund of £200,000 waiting for the winners at the end of the championship!

Daytona Motorsport invited Karting magazine to test their brand new Senior and Cadet karts at Whilton Mill to give readers a flavour of what they are like to drive, and race. Ivan Lomliev (Honda Cadet and YRDA driver) and I were called upon to give you our opinion alongside Alex Brundle (current WEC LMP2 driver and ELMS champion). The karts did not disappoint!

Specs

“What exactly is the GPK kart?” I hear you ask. The Senior kart is the brand new Tonykart Racer 401S equipped with mega grippy Bridgestone ROK tyres (YLR), and a direct drive, water cooled Vortex ROK DVS engine producing 38hp and revving to 16,000rpm. The Vortex engine is one of the key features of the GPK kart and is what sets it apart from other series.

GPK senior engine

Click here to see the full list of specifications

The Test

Knowing very little about the kart I was about to drive I didn’t really have any expectations. I had heard talk of it being quick, but honestly I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to experience. I would be sharing the kart with Alex Brundle who would take it out first.

Power

I had been watching Alex Brundle shakedown the kart and my first impressions from a distance was that it sounded epic. The noise from the Vortex VDS engine and exhaust package is so crisp and raw, it sounds like a kart should. Alex hadn’t driven a kart in nearly two years so his first laps were shaky as he found his feet. After about ten or so laps he pitted, then it was my turn.

Alex Brundle GPK Whilton Boot entry

Former British and Kartmasters champion Ed Brand, who now heads up the series for Daytona, was on hand to give me a push. The decompression valve on the engine makes this very easy, and the kart fires almost immediately. “Take it easy to start with” were the words he used before I took to the circuit for the first time.

Out the pits I eased onto the circuit and duly took it easy through turns 1&2 and gradually applied some throttle onto the main straight. “This isn’t so bad, what is all the fuss about” crossed my mind for all of half a second, until I was smacked in the face with possibly the most lethal acceleration I have ever felt. Don’t believe me? This was my reaction straight out the kart for the first time.

The feeling was similar to what you see when the Millennium Falcon jumps to light speed.

After a brief reality check, and a large dose of adrenalin I completed about 10 very sketchy laps just about clinging onto the kart.

Both Alex Brundle and I have driven some very fast machinery, but we both agreed that the acceleration of this was amongst the fastest we had experienced. While chatting with Alex he mentioned to me that the acceleration felt “very much like a prototype” in its power delivery. The fastest vehicle I have driven is an F3 car, and the GPK senior was a match for it in this respect.

Piers Prior GPK whilton Christmas kink front

Grip

Once my mind had caught up with the speed on the straights, my attention was drawn to the amount of grip the kart has. The Bridgestone YLR tyres which will be run in the GPK series provide an astonishing amount of grip.

GPK whilton Bridgestone YLR tyre

Whilton mill is a fast circuit with a few very fast corners, most notably Oblivion (turns 1 and 2) and Inkermans, a very quick right hander. In these corners the G-forces are mega, and you are literally hanging on. You can feel the tyres loading up and gripping the surface of the tarmac. However due to the ease of use of the Tonykart Chassis its all very predictable and instinctive to control.

Piers Prior GPK whilton christmas entry

Despite the rib crushing G forces I felt I could place the kart wherever I wanted and I was more thinking the kart round the circuit than driving it. The photo above perfectly illustrates this, I could make the kart do whatever I wanted. Using a small amount of slip angle into the corners I found the kart would track round perfectly and release off the corner when I unleashed the 38hp Vortex beast with my right foot.

I’ve done a fair amount of endurance karting which I think is fairly physical, but never have I had the level of ‘arm pump’ in my forearms… and this was after just one 10 minute run! A three day weekend in one of these is going to be savage on your body if you haven’t done the correct training before the season starts.

If you’re thinking of signing up start training now for round 1 in July.

Piers Prior GPK whilton inkermans kink back

The kart rides the kerbs very well and encourages you to attack the corners.

Into the tighter corners I felt I could utilise the front tyres and dig the kart into the turn. Using minimal steering angle and keeping my arms locked the kart would rotate beautifully on entry and in the middle, and drive nicely off the corner under power.

Piers Prior Boot right GPK Whilton

Occasionally I would get it wrong and carry too much speed into the turn, this would usually result in the rear tyres losing traction and the rear sliding too much through the corner. Due to the inherent grip of the tyres this would make the kart bog a little and compromise the exit. This shows how accurate you have to be when driving a kart this fast; it will really promote and highlight the best drivers.

Brakes

Much like the handling of the chassis itself the braking fells almost second nature. You don’t have to press the pedal particularly hard to get the required purchase, however there is more than enough feel to modulate the pressure for a perfectly balanced corner entry.

Alex Brundle GPK whilton hairpin braking

The braking is possibly the only thing about the GPK kart that didn’t blow me away, the only reason being that because you’re approaching the corners so fast due to the speed off the previous corner, compounded by the massive power, you have to brake what feels like a long way from the corner. The kart does stop quickly, the grip from the rear tyres stops the kart with that distinctive low ‘squark’ sound letting you know you’re on the limit of grip.

GPK whilton brakes

I think the main reason I wasn’t bowled over by the braking was because everything else was so crazy and such a sensory overload, the braking was so effortless that I didn’t really register it. However, due to the braking distances being relatively long this should make for great racing, sliding up the inside, or putting in that last ditch lunge will be even easier thanks to this. But then as I said above, if you go in a too fast you’ll bog on exit and the opponent will re-pass you out the corner. Im very much looking forward to seeing the racing this kart will produce. I’d love to be part of it!

Driving the kart

As I got more and more used to the kart I found my times tumbled the cleaner and more refined I made my driving. It certainly takes a few sessions to let you mind catch up with whats going on, but once you feel comfortable it is a dream to drive, truly exhilarating.

GPK Whilton Mychron5 laps

I could see my times dropping and I improved right to the last lap. It was also my first experience of the brand new and included Mychron5 dashboard systems with live GPS timing updates. It would update my lap time corner by corner giving me in depth access to where I was going quicker while on circuit so I knew exactly when I got a corner right. This is a great feature and asset to the kart and will really help drivers improve faster.

You may notice in the above image of the Mychron5 that we were hitting 69mph! Moreover, the astute amongst you will see that the fastest lap I managed was a 44.65 around Whilton mill international, on a chilly Friday in March. This time is about 1.5 seconds quicker than a Rotax, which equates to this kart being over 5% faster than a Senior Rotax or X30. Consider also that I haven’t ever driven a kart with anywhere near as much power or grip as this, nor have I driven an ‘MSA kart’ in nearly two years. I’m certain there is plenty more to come from this package.

My thoughts 

The interview above sums up our thoughts after driving the karts, as you can see we were all thoroughly impressed. The kart was a blast to drive in so many ways. Speed, grip, drivability, it ticks all the boxes in my opinion.

I predict that the racing will be hugely intense. The kart requires so much concentration to drive due to the speed that only the best drivers will be able to maximise the kart’s performance. With long braking zones and grippy tyres accompanied by the monster engines on 3 of the country’s best circuits, Buckmore, GYG, and Rowrah, its going to be an awesome season. They will be running the drop down noses meaning the racing will be clean. The prize fund is also a major attraction with fully funded car drives for the winners in the Junior and Senior championships. The winners at the end of the year will have earned it.

Whilton GPK grid Pic Alex Brundle, Piers Prior, Ivan Lomliev

On behalf of myself and Karting magazine I would like to say a massive thanks to the guys from Daytona Motorsport and GPK, they kept the kart prepped for us all day and gave us the opportunity to come and test their incredible machinery. I was only the fourth person ever to drive the kart, and Ivan the first.

 

Click here to find out more about the GPK Series

GPK Series content on Karting magazine this week!

Tomorrow – Onboard a GPK Series Kart!
Monday (10th April) – Interview with Daytona Motorsport’s, Ed Brand – One of Britain’s most successful karters in recent years!

Written by Piers Prior

Images courtesy of Andy Webb – Sprocket Photography

 

Like this article? Then check these out:

GPK Series Cadet Review – Ivan Lomliev

GPK Series – 5 things you need to know

GPK Series Cadet Review – Ivan Lomliev

The new GPK series by Daytona Motorsport is offering a level playing field to racers of every age. The Cadet class is for drivers aged 8-13 years old. Daytona Motorsport invited us to test the kart, so we called upon the wise beyond his years, young 11 year old Ivan Lomliev. Ivan is part of Arden’s Young Racing Driver Academy (YRDA) and is in impressive form winning races at Whilton Mill this year with Global karting in the Honda Cadet class. Ivan will be racing for the Super One title for the first time this season and is considered by many as the one to watch. With all that in mind he was the perfect driver to test the new Tonykart Cadet chassis supplied by GPK with the Vortex ROK Mini engine bolted to it.

On arrival Ivan was very excited to get out and give the kart a test. Having only driven four stroke karts, the difference in speed was going to be substantial and the chassis was also going to be a completely new experience for Ivan. The kart came very well presented and the GPK team did a great job in advising Ivan before his first run. After the first session we asked Ivan what he felt was the best things about the kart.

“The speed was the most obvious thing about the kart. When I started the first lap it felt extremely fast, I couldn’t hold my head up! The engine is faster than I expected.”

Asking him about how the kart felt around the lap compared to his usual Synergy Honda cadet he responded:

“It felt really good over the kerbs. Normally on some kerbs it pushes you wide, but on the Tonykart it just drove over them. The chassis is really good and I liked it. I normally like quite a lot of front end, on this the rear felt a lot more planted.”

Ivan mentioned that he had to adapt to the kart throughout the day due to the slightly different handling and engine characteristics of the GPK.

“At the beginning of the day I was bogging down on the exit of the corners, so I changed my line to get better exits, and I got a lot more comfortable with the kart towards the end of the day. By the second session I had adapted to the kart. Into the corners you’re going just that little bit faster which makes it more fun to drive. You have to enter the corners a different way to get the speed off.”

The kart was achieving times two seconds a lap faster than the Honda engine Ivan is used to. He commented where he could feel this speed differential, and how good it would be in preparation for the Junior class.

“I was flat through turns 1 and 2, and I could brake later than the Honda into turn 3 even though I was going faster. It stops really well. When you move up [into juniors] you’ll be better prepared. It is a bit more physical too.”

Summarising the day he said

“The racing is going to be really fun and active. All the karts will be equal, and It’ll come down to the driver to get the best performance.”

Speaking to Ivan throughout the day the main things he kept mentioning were the power of the engine and how much faster it was than his usual Honda. He also took a little while to get comfortable on the Tonykart cadet chassis, but loved its drivability once he honed his driving to suit.

I considered taking the kart out myself to give my opinion, however decided against it…

In conclusion, the GPK cadet was about two seconds per lap faster than a Honda Cadet around Whilton Mill. The main features are the powerful 2-stroke air cooled engine, grippy Bridgestone tyres, and very user friendly Tonykart chassis. Ivan enjoyed the day and said it would be a great series in preparation for Juniors due to the extra speed and grip.

Ivan asked us to thanks GPK and Daytona Motorsport for the opportunity to be the first driver to test this kart and engine combination.

Click here to see the full specs of the Vortex Mini Rok engine

Click here to find out more about the GPK Series

GPK Series content on Karting magazine this week!

Tomorrow – GPK Series Kart Review – Piers Prior
Friday – Onboard a GPK Series Kart!
Monday (10th April) – Interview with Daytona Motorsport’s, Ed Brand – One of Britain’s most successful karters in recent years!

Written by Piers Prior

Images courtesy of Andy Webb – Sprocket Photography

 

Like this article? Then check these out:

GPK Series – 5 things you need to know

GPK Series – Alex Brundle ‘One to One’

Arrive and Drive column – February

While the racing might not be the warmest, or driest we may experience, it is still racing none the less. We’ve got roundups of the BUKC from Rye, NKL at Whilton, the start of the Club100 season at Buckmore, as well round 1 of the Daytona DMAX championship from their Milton Keynes circuit.

Club100 – Buckmore

Full reports of all the races can be found at…

Lightweights

Heavyweights

Clubman

Elite 

All the videos from round 1 can be found on the Club100 YouTube Channel here

The first round of the Club100 championship visited its traditional starting point of Buckmore Park. The circuit was damp for the heats which created some spectacular racing.

Elite – Steve Brown started where he left off last season taking the first A final race win of the year after being pushed hard by Jack Harding, an ominous prospect for the rest of the season from the 2016 champ.

Watch the action from his point of view…

Clubman – Pietro Pagano won the Clubman final on the road however was hit with 2 cone penalties bumping him to 3rd, and thus promoting Shaun Hollingsworth to victory after a sabbatical from karting, with Rob Moore in 2nd.

Lightweights – With the dominant forces from 2016 of Tom Golding and Pietro Pagano both moving on the championship is wide open this year.

Darri Sims looked in impressive form winning both the pre A and A finals, but was pushed hard in the latter by Club100 debutant Sammy Venables.

Club100 Buckmore 2017 Sammy Venables

Heavyweights – JJ Aiston managed to come out on top of the heavyweight class after fending off Mr Buckmore, ‘The Mighty’ Mark Figes who came home 2nd. Impressive gains were also made by Mark Ridout who came from 12th to finish 4th, and Tim Hill who rose from 19th to 7th.

Club100 Buckmore 2017 Mark Ridout

Endurance – The team endurance was won by ‘Bandits!’ who controlled the race coming home 11seconds ahead of ‘Schrodinger’s Gap’ and ‘Maxx MPH Racing’. The clubman class was won by ‘Runtime Exception Racing’ and the inters were won by ‘Dark Side Racing’.

Club100 Buckmore 2017 Niki Richardson banana
In case you didn’t notice it was Niki Richardson’s birthday

DMAX – Milton Keynes

Heats

Full heat reports can be found on the DMAX website here

In the Light heats Kameron Khan took the win from Cameron Noble after a hard fought race. Re-live it here

All the videos from round 1 can be found on Daytona’s youtube channel, which we have helpfully compiled into one page for ease of viewing here.

In the Inters it was Bobby Trundley who took a great win and celebrated in style.

DMAX R1 2017 Bobby Trundley Dab

The Heavyweights Tomek Zaustowicz took the win not far ahead of a hard charging Adam Daly.

DMAX R1 Tomek Zet

Endurance

The full endurance reports can be found on the DMAX website here

The Lights were won by over 10 seconds from pole by the Kameron Khan who topped off a great day’s racing. Richard Lacey and Cameron Noble rounded out the podium.

DMAX R1 2017 podium light endurance

The Inters were dominated by Bobby Trundley. After taking pole he romped away from the field taking fastest lap and eventually winning by half a minute over Tor Ryan and Chris Hackworth.

DMAX r1 2017 Inters T1 blur

In the Heavies Tom Pughe took pole by an impressive 4 tenths and used this pace to carry him to victory by 10 seconds from Rob Bennett, who was a further 18 seconds ahead of Tomek Zaustowicz.

DMAX r1 2017 Heavy start

NKL Round 1 – Whilton Mill Zulu

Round 1 of the NKL held at Whilton Mill was as action packed as always with 50 drivers fighting it out to be victorious and have a strong start to their championship.

Catch all the action re-live via Facebook here

NKL Round 1 2017 live video screeny

Brandon Williams took overall victory and an early championship lead ahead of Dante Dillon and James Saunders who charged through from 11th on the grid to take 2nd place in the final. An impressive drive also from Andrew Spencer who after being promoted from the B-final made up 14 places to finish 5th. Matt Spencer was King of the heavyweight class.

BUKC Rounds 3&4 – Rye House

BUKC2017 Rye turn 1 lap 1

A damp February Rye house greeted the 54 University teams for the next rounds of the BUKC.

The track dried out for most of the sprints in the morning allowing for some great racing.

BUKC2017 Rye Reg's elbow sprint

The sprints in the morning saw wins for Loughborough A, Swansea A, Oxford Brookes A, Cambridge A and Strathclyde A. Oxford Brooks A took the overall win with three top 5 results.

BUKC2017 Rye sprint podium

In the Endurances Oxford A this time took the overall victory with a first and a third place.

BUKC2017 rye Hairpin 1

The podium was rounded out by Nottingham A and UWS, with wins also for Cambridge A and Oxford Brookes A.

BUKC2017 Rye Start

This leaves Oxford Brookes A&C, Oxford A and Loughborough A all still in with a strong chance at the title.

A roundup of rounds 4&5 from picturesque GYG will come in the March A&D article.

A&D Driver of the Month

Nominations:

Bobby Trundley – DMAX inters dominance in both the heats and enduro.

James Saunders – A storming drive from 11th to second at NKL round 1.

Kameron Khan – Also for commanding victories in DMAX Light heats and enduro.

Shaun Hollingsworth – Returning from a karting sabbatical to win the Clubman sprints in his first Club100 race in 2 years.

And this month’s winner voted for by you is………

James Saunders

james-saunders NKL Driver of the month
Photo courtesy of Slawek Piskorz

James managed to receive the most votes, thus backing up the great performance he put in at Whilton Mill for round 1 of the NKL. Congratulations to James.

If you feel anyone deserves to be nominated for Driver if the Month for March get in touch with us on social media with a reason why.

 

Enjoy your spring racing!

 

Written by Piers Prior

 

Like this article? Read more Arrive and drive column’s here:

Arrive and drive column – Janruary

Arrive and drive column – December

Arrive and drive column – November

Arrive and drive column – October