Category Archives: Young’Uns Cadet Karting Column

Features, analysis and comment from Dave Bewley on Cadet Karting in the UK

Cadet Column

Whenever the opportunity arises, I always enjoy a discussion with Gerard Cox from Project One. We tend to agree about many issues although the relevance of timed qualifying in Cadet racing
is one on which our views differ. Unusually for a kart manufacturer and trader, perhaps, Gerard is concerned about the damage caused by first bend collisions. He firmly believes that such incidents are greatly reduced by sorting out quick drivers from slower ones through timed qualifying sessions. I don’t doubt Gerard’s sincerity on this issue, whilst disagreeing with his conclusions.

There are many others who
share Gerard’s opinion. Timed qualifying doesn’t eliminate this risk altogether, but it’s generally accepted that starting from a front grid position greatly reduces your chances of crashing out at Turn 1. I’m prefer the time honoured system of running three Heats
For 25 years or more this system was used at just about every kart race in Britain. Around the mid- eighties Class 100 International, later known as Formula “A” introduced timed qualifying. This, it was argued, would allow our top drivers to familiarise themselves with a system used in world and European Championship events. Gradually it was cascaded down to other classes. Early last year Gerard presented me with an interesting challenge.

“I expect that you’ll be a

Cadet Column

In 1977, Terry Edgar captured the Little Green Man crown without winning a single round. We thought at the time that this was a one off occurrence never to be repeated. 37 years later, though, it’s quite possible that Tom Wood could achieve the same result.

Paul Fletcher launched the Little Green Man Series back in 1973 as a way of providing Britain’s top senior drivers with additional high level events. His idea sprouted wings and eventually laid the foundations for the present Super 1 Championships. Ten years ago, the Little Green Man title was revived with Paul’s blessing. Instead of catering for adult drivers, though, the 2004 Series was devised specifically with WTP cadets in mind. Jordon Lennox-Lamb became the first LGM cadet champion.Jordon’s brother in law, Dan Hazlewood, runs the highly successful Fusion outfit. Two Fusion drivers, Teddy Wilson and Zac Robertson, are in with a chance of lifting this year’s title. Six different winners have emerged from seven rounds, with Wilson notching up a couple of victories. Teddy arrived at Shenington for round 7 holding onto a slender two points lead over Tom Wood. However, from Saturday’s opening Heat right up to Sunday’s Final he never looked totally convincing. Ultimately he had to settle for 11th position and, with Wood finishing 3rd, Teddy now lies 7 points behind “72 drivers have taken part this year and, for Round 2 up at Larkhall, we actually had 11 of them competing in a “C” Final, something we’ve not witnessed in British karting for several decades,” said Mike Mills.“It is a very competitive Series that always manages to produce great racing and this is borne out by the number of different winners we’ve seen emerging. Tom is leading these Championships because he’s achieved consistent results over all seven rounds so far and the final one at PF is going to be very interesting.”

A week before Shenington, the 2014 Super 1 British Championships for cadets reached a conclusion at PF. Wood’s supreme consistency in LGM rounds had deserted him at Super 1 level. Tom arrived at PF with an outside chance of repeating his 3rd place from 2013, but knowing that anything better was out of reach. His 3rd and 4th place finishes in the two Finals netted him 149 points and he had to settle for the number 4 plate. Tom’s AIM team-mate Kiern Jewiss found himself in a much better position. On dropped scores he held a championship lead of 19 points, although this depended upon an Appeal by Teddy Wilson held over from the previous round at Rissington.Early on Saturday morning Kiern moved from being the red hot championship favourite to something of an outsider when it became clear that Teddy had won his Appeal. Apart from the AIM team, this news also came as a blow for Strawberry Racing who had supported Kiern all year on his Tonykart chassis. As if to rub salt in their wounds, Jewiss made a sudden switch to a Zipkart sending shock waves around the paddock. Was this a sign of pressure beginning to tell? Certainly, the results from Saturday’s heats weren’t particularly encouraging. Kiern claimed 8th spot on his first outing and followed this with a 3rd place finish in the next one. It left him 4th in the overall classification.There were certainly no signs of nerves in the Wilson camp. Teddy had gained a further four points advantage over his rival and claimed to be confident about the outcome of Sunday’s two Finals.

Alex McDade made a good start by winning Final 1, followed closely by Jonny Edgar. Wood claimed 3rd spot ahead of Wilson, but Jewiss could do no better than 10th.It looked very much as though the title was on its way to Spalding. McDade secured another victory in Final 2, ahead of Robertson and Edgar, thereby claiming the number 5 plate by just one point. Wilson coasted home in 5th behind Wood knowing that this result was enough to make him the 2014 British Champion. No-one at PF could argue that his success wasn’t richly deserved.

 

 

Cadet column: British Cadet Championship 2003

By Dave Bewley

Although Anthony Moss won the British Cadet Championship in September 2003, it wasn’t until August 2004 that an MSA Press Release actually confirmed his victory…

He’d been excluded from the round at Nutts Corner due to an allegedly illegal carburettor. Engine tuner Tommy Johnson swore that everything was perfectly aboveboard and the matter went to appeal. What followed was a series of costly legal battles between Anthony’s father Steve and the Stars of Tomorrow organisers that lasted 11 months.

It was a messy situation. Oliver Rowland was actually crowned as the 2004 S1 champion several weeks before celebrations could begin in the Moss household. By that time, the champagne must have tasted a wee bit flat. Even after the verdict had been announced there was paddock gossip that, Anthony couldn’t be classed as a bona fide champion. This situation wasn’t particularly fair on Richard Bradley, either. For almost a year he’d believed himself to be the legitimate champion only to have this title rather cruelly taken away.

Jonny Edgar hadn’t even been born when all these machinations first kicked off. Today, he finds himself provisionally leading the British Championships pending an Appeals Process that, hopefully, won’t be quite such a long drawn out affair. Jonny is merely an interested bystander in matters involving two of his Fusion team-mates. Joe Boullen, on the other hand, has a rather closer connection and will no doubt recall the Anthony Moss episode with great clarity. Joe was very much involved in the 2003 championships as one of Britain’s leading cadet drivers at that time. He and Anthony were also members of the Manchester & Buxton club, racing at 3 Sisters.

Joe is the mechanic for Zac Robertson, working on a full time basis. At Little Rissington last month Zac was involved in a collision with fellow Fusion driver Teddy Wilson that led to a protest being lodged on his behalf. Teddy had been in dominant form all weekend, claiming 1st and 3rd places from his Heats and comfortably winning Final 1 ahead of Edgar. In Final 2 he was overtaken on the last lap. His attempt to regain 1st place resulted in the collision. That much is undisputed, although there will be arguments over who was actually to blame.

Rightly or wrongly, race officials deemed that Wilson was responsible for the accident and they docked him a full lap. He appealed the decision, but by that time several potential witnesses had left for home. His Appeal will now be heard at PF on September 13th, immediately prior to the Super 1 round. It’s all hypothetical right now, but the timing of this Hearing could actually work out in Wilson’s favour. Any decision at Little Rissington would have been made without Teddy knowing what the impact upon his championship chances might be. As things stand now he will, at least, be fully aware of the score before deciding upon whether or not to take matters further.

It’s never ideal when championship titles are decided by judicial process rather than out on the circuit. It’s even more unsatisfactory, in my view, when such arguments are between two members of the same team. I felt particularly sorry for Kizzy Hazlewood at Little Rissington. As Zac’s guardian for this meeting she had the unenviable task of initiating a protest, knowing that any successful outcome would inevitably bring victory for someone from a rival team, in this case AIM’s Tom Wood. It would also greatly assist another AIM driver, Kiern Jewiss in his quest for the title.

I felt sorry, too, for Teddy Wilson who had produced a near flawless performance all weekend. Within the Robertson camp, however, sympathy was probably in short supply. During the previous round at Larkhall Zac had been penalised following a Wilson protest. This intervention gained Teddy an extra championship point, but could well prove to be extremely costly in the longer term. The protest culture is all very well, but you must always expect that, at some future stage, the roles could very easily be reversed.

About 30 years ago there was a song called “Even the Score” by Toronto. I wonder if this catchy number has been played in the Robertson household over recent weeks????

Cadet Column

stock-karting-logo-blueAlthough Anthony Moss won the British Cadet Championship in September 2003, it wasn’t until August 2004 that an MSA Press Release actually confirmed his victory…

He’d been excluded from the round at Nutts Corner due to an allegedly illegal carburettor. Engine tuner Tommy Johnson swore that everything was perfectly aboveboard and the matter went to appeal. What followed was a series of costly legal battles between Anthony’s father Steve and the Stars of Tomorrow organisers that lasted 11 months.

It was a messy situation. Oliver Rowland was actually crowned as the 2004 S1 champion several weeks before celebrations could begin in the Moss household. By that time, the champagne must have tasted a wee bit flat. Even after the verdict had been announced there was paddock gossip that, Anthony couldn’t be classed as a bona fide champion. This situation wasn’t particularly fair on Richard Bradley, either. For almost a year he’d believed himself to be the legitimate champion only to have this title rather cruelly taken away.

Jonny Edgar hadn’t even been born when all these machinations first kicked off. Today, he finds himself provisionally leading the British Championships pending an Appeals Process that, hopefully, won’t be quite such a long drawn out affair. Jonny is merely an interested bystander in matters involving two of his Fusion team-mates. Joe Boullen, on the other hand, has a rather closer connection and will no doubt recall the Anthony Moss episode with great clarity. Joe was very much involved in the 2003 championships as one of Britain’s leading cadet drivers at that time. He and Anthony were also members of the Manchester & Buxton club, racing at 3 Sisters.

Joe is the mechanic for Zac Robertson, working on a full time basis. At Little Rissington last month Zac was involved in a collision with fellow Fusion driver Teddy Wilson that led to a protest being lodged on his behalf. Teddy had been in dominant form all weekend, claiming 1st and 3rd places from his Heats and comfortably winning Final 1 ahead of Edgar. In Final 2 he was overtaken on the last lap. His attempt to regain 1st place resulted in the collision. That much is undisputed, although there will be arguments over who was actually to blame.

Rightly or wrongly, race officials deemed that Wilson was responsible for the accident and they docked him a full lap. He appealed the decision, but by that time several potential witnesses had left for home. His Appeal will now be heard at PF on September 13th, immediately prior to the Super 1 round. It’s all hypothetical right now, but the timing of this Hearing could actually work out in Wilson’s favour. Any decision at Little Rissington would have been made without Teddy knowing what the impact upon his championship chances might be. As things stand now he will, at least, be fully aware of the score before deciding upon whether or not to take matters further.

It’s never ideal when championship titles are decided by judicial process rather than out on the circuit. It’s even more unsatisfactory, in my view, when such arguments are between two members of the same team. I felt particularly sorry for Kizzy Hazlewood at Little Rissington. As Zac’s guardian for this meeting she had the unenviable task of initiating a protest, knowing that any successful outcome would inevitably bring victory for someone from a rival team, in this case AIM’s Tom Wood. It would also greatly assist another AIM driver, Kiern Jewiss in his quest for the title.

I felt sorry, too, for Teddy Wilson who had produced a near flawless performance all weekend. Within the Robertson camp, however, sympathy was probably in short supply. During the previous round at Larkhall Zac had been penalised following a Wilson protest. This intervention gained Teddy an extra championship point, but could well prove to be extremely costly in the longer term. The protest culture is all very well, but you must always expect that, at some future stage, the roles could very easily be reversed.

About 30 years ago there was a song called “Even the Score” by Toronto. I wonder if this catchy number has been played in the Robertson household over recent weeks????

Cadet Column – September 2014

It’s a fairly obvious truism that club racing remains the backbone of karting, without which our sport wouldn’t exist at all.

It’s easy to get tied up with the major championships in such a way as to believe that all meaningful racing begins and ends with Super 1 or the Little Green Man. In actual fact competitors in both of these Series make up a very small percentage of the cadet scene, yet they’ve undoubtedly received the lion’s share of publicity. As a regular Karting magazine contributor, I’m as guilty as anyone for failing to ensure that club competitors get the recognition they deserve. Roughly twice as many IAME cadets are competing in the national championships compared to their Honda counterparts. At club level, though, Hondas hold the advantage in numerical terms.

For the sake of brevity I’ll be referring mainly to Honda Cadets this month and perhaps deal with IAME’s in the next issue. It would be remiss of me not to mention Comers, although in truth the class appears to be in its final death throes. Despite an official MSA title being awarded for Comers in S1, there was insufficient support for it to run. That hardly came as a surprise, but we believed numbers would still hold up at club level. In fact very few clubs have been able to include Comers as part of their programme, although there are a couple of notable exceptions. Both Whilton Mill and Rissington have been able to run separate finals this year where this class accounts for around 16% of the total cadet entry. At Whilton Mill Max Fenlon, Toby McDonald, Taylor Whitson and Josh McCallum have all claimed race wins. Connor Kearney has been the most prolific Comer winner at Rissington, with Max Fenlon and Oliver Stratford also successful. Small Comer grids have also been run at Larkhall where Paul Beattie currently heads the championship table ahead of Jessica Edgar and Robert Proudlock. With Gerard Cox and his Project One outfit situated at Bayford Meadows, Kent has been a Honda stronghold for many years.Numbers continue to be very strong.

Rounds of the Kent Championships are run alternately at Bayford and Buckmore. 29 competitors have taken part in the Honda Clubman category which incorporates a compulsory purchase system. George Leeves leads the championships ahead of Philip Anthony and Oliver Bennett. In the Honda Open category Luke Whitehead tops a table consisting of 38 participants. Rye House is another venue that has chosen to run the Honda Clubman class. Billy Styles has won four out of six meetings in this class and currently heads the championship table. Harvey Hendy occupies 2nd place ahead of Theo Pastou. Josh Steed, Jake Yilmaz and Sam Lementz-Jones are leading competitors in the Open category. Red Lodge is another Honda stronghold with 20 to 30 drivers turning up at each meeting. Race winners here include David Shearing, Ben Kaspercjak, Khali Atkins, Angus Marks, Jason Hutton and Oliver Richardson. Kaspercjak has also been very successful at Kimbolton where similar numbers of Honda cadets regularly turn out. He’s won four of the seven meetings on this circuit so far, with Wesley Mason notching up a couple of wins and Myles Apps grabbing another.

The Honda entry at Forest Edge in Hampshire is always impressive and rarely falls below 30. Ruben Brown has won two of this year’s meetings, with Matthew Herbert, Guy Cunnington and Jake Cranstone also claiming their places on the winner’s rostrum. Brown, Herbert and Cranstone are familiar figures at Blackbushe where up to 20 Honda Cadets can turn out. Ellough Park stopped staging MSA events several years ago but commands good Honda Cadet grids nonetheless. Callum Yarham has notched up the majority of race victories here. Scott Cansdale and Harvey Norton also appear on the list of winners. With entries often approaching the 30 mark, Whilton Mill is another good circuit for Hondas. It has also managed to attract some of the top S1 stars with a list of race winners that includes Mark Kimber, Ollie Hall, Harry Thompson, Henry Laws and Jenson Butterfield. Henry Laws is leading the championships here ahead of Tom Canning and Louie Short. It’s hard to imagine that, just a few years ago, there weren’t any Hondas at PF. Yet almost 50 of them have contested the 2014 club championships, currently led by Ben Thomson. Harry Thompson holds 2nd place ahead of Henry Laws. Shenington also does pretty well for Honda entries, with 20 or more drivers often turning up at their meetings. Keaton Samra, Luke Whitehead, Charlie Webster and Kaleb Marshall are amongst the winners here. Zach O’Sullivan, Harry King, Josh Martin, Casper Stevenson and Archie Brown all appear on the winners list at nearby Rissington where entries average around the 16 mark.

Further north Honda entries are scattered rather more sparsely. Sam Cunliffe is the man to beat at Hooton Park in Cheshire and he has also notched up three very good wins at the 3 Sisters circuit near Wigan. Over on the North East at Warden Law, Max Edmondson and Kai Hunter have both claimed a couple of race wins. Kai has a good record on the opposite coast at Rowrah where he’s won the last two meetings. Riley Banks has also won at Rowrah and he was successful in last month’s race at Larkhall amongst a grid of 14 drivers. That’s about the average entry for this circuit although figures in May and June were significantly boosted prior to a S1 round being held there. Josh Nekrews has claimed a couple of race wins and lies 2nd in the club championships behind Matthew Collings.

Space considerations prevent me from including more names in this piece. To all those who have been omitted I apologise.

What price can be placed on an MSA British crown?

Kiern JewissThe answer, apparently, is “not very much!” At one time entrants in every recognised class could compete for this honour. Today, apart from 250cc Superkarts run on full size motor racing circuits, only winners of the S1 championships in IAME Cadets or KZ1 can legitimately claim to be MSA British Champions. You might think that such a restriction would make the prize even more valuable. The truth is, however, that interest has been waning for several years and many of our top stars prefer to compete in the German or Italian domestic championships instead.

I’d argue that part of the blame can be laid at the CIK’s doorstep. Six years ago this august body replaced 100cc classes with the disastrous KF versions. Wild predictions were made that these would very quickly replace Rotax categories in terms of popularity. The reality proved to be very different. KF1 was supposed to be karting’s premier class. Just over two years after being introduced, it attracted such a feeble entry at S1 level that the 2010 Championships had to be cut short. Three years later, the same fate befell KF2, but at least we still had a double figure entry in the Junior category. Sadly, even this class has fallen by the wayside in 2014. It means that, for the first time in 48 years, there won’t be a British Junior Champion.

They’ve been flogging horses that, if not actually dead, are well past the stage of active life

If the CIK has to bear some responsibility for this state of affairs then the MSA is also culpable. For understandable reasons, demarcation lines have been drawn between commercial categories such as Rotax,TKM, KGP etc and their own MSA classes. However, with the notable exception of IAME Cadet, our friends at Motor Sports House must surely realise they’ve been flogging horses that, if not actually dead, are well past the stage of active life. It was clear several years ago that British titles should have been awarded to Rotax classes. The fact that they weren’t has stripped them of any meaningful value.

This year’s MSA S1 opener at Shenington attracted just 106 entrants. Half of these were actually racing in commercial categories, leaving just 53 British Championship contenders. It’s more than likely that this number will steadily decrease as the season progresses. Shenington is centrally located and has always proved to be one of the most popular venues. At an ordinary club meeting held there a fortnight earlier, 211 drivers turned out. This could pose quite a dilemma in future. If leading clubs such as Shenington and Trent Valley can make more money staging their own meetings, you could find that John Hoyle has to rely increasingly on less popular venues for the S1 Championships. Thus our cherished British titles will be devalued even further. As it is, the MSA is losing quite a bit of revenue. Currently there’s a £90 surcharge imposed upon every entrant for the British Championships (£15 per round), so you’d think that there would be some incentive to attract more customers.

There is, of course, a valid counter argument. The sudden popularity of IAME cadet can be ascribed, almost entirely, to its recognition as the official British Championship class. Comers, on the other hand, have just about faded into oblivion simply through losing this status. Yet, even here the message is a mixed one. With a British title at stake less than 40 cadets have entered S1. Conversely, the Little Green Man Series doesn’t offer any officially recognised title, not even an ABkC one, yet registrations for this competition are in excess of 90 this year. The reason for its popularity is largely down to cost.

Registering for the Little Green Man and entering all eight rounds will set you back £1245. Add two sets of tyres, which are all that anyone is allowed for the entire Series, and you have a total outlay of £1540. That’s around £1,000 cheaper than S1. The savings don’t just end there, however. Abolishing Friday practice is a big plus point for many parents. It means that they are taking less time off work, to say nothing of their kids’ schooling. Less expenditure on things like tyres, engine wear, accommodation costs and, in many cases, mechanics’ fees is also a powerful factor. In addition, Mike Mills has worked extremely hard over the last 12 years to make these championships customer friendly. With no less than 18 trophies handed out at every round last year you didn’t need a top three finishing place to feel that bit special.

Today the main consideration is money and that’s not good for any sport.

If the MSA is serious about enhancing the value of British titles then it could always draw upon past experience. 50 years ago the idea of an eight round competition was abandoned in favour of deciding everything over a single weekend at Shenington. Six classes were contested, with competitors in the more popular categories qualifying via regional championships. Apart from 1966, when the championships were run over three rounds, this format was successfully adopted for the next thirty years. Back then ability and self confidence were the only factors deterring anyone from taking part. Today, the main consideration is money and that’s not good for any sport. I believe that we should look once more at running the championships over a single weekend, even if it’s only on a trial basis. It wouldn’t mean the end of S1 because there’ll always be a demand for professionally run championships based over multiple rounds.

I’d award British titles to the winners of every class but, for simplicity’s sake, the concept of an outright champion could be revived. This would be decided on total points scored from Heats and Finals. Only eight individuals, Tony Sissons, Bobby Alderdyce, George Bloom, Chris Lambert, Chris Merlin, Mickey Allen, Dave Ferris and Stephen South have ever claimed this accolade. There seems to be no justifiable reason why we can’t bring it back once again.

 

Do you agree that British kart titles have been devalued?

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Cadet Column: April 2014

Dave has been following the karting scene for more than 50 years and first started reporting for Karting magazine in 1966. He’s especially interested in cadet racing and looks forward to an exciting season with particular regard to the IAME class.

It’s still early days, but already there’s a pattern starting to emerge in cadets. Last year 2 stroke competitors could choose between IAME and Comer motors, with the latter still able to command good support at club level. Many drivers switched allegiance by December and evidence suggests Comer grids are now in steep decline. Conversely, entries in the Honda class are holding up, especially South where they outnumber IAMEs at many circuits.

Buckmore Park remains strong for Hondas, with an average entry well above 40. TVKC has good Honda grids with 43 turning out for February’s meeting, similar numbers are reported at Forest Edge. Red Lodge, Bayford Meadows, Rye House and Ellough Park are also strong. Traditionally Scotland has been a Honda stronghold and at Larkhall recently this class attracted 13 drivers compared to only 5 in the IAME category.

I’d recommend Hondas to anyone running as a lad and dad outfit. They’re much simpler to run and you needn’t worry about weather dependent carb settings. That said, engine prices aren’t quite as low as you might expect. I spoke about the prices to Gerard Cox of Project One, who can always be relied upon to give an honest response. “Club level competitors can expect to pay between £800 and £1,000”, claims Gerard. “For S1 the price increases to around £1,200. At Buckmore and Bayford Meadows we run the Clubman Class with RPM motors costing £475 and a compulsory buy price set at £575. Personally, I’d like to see costs controlled even further by excluding all teams from the Clubman class even though we are actually running one driver ourselves”. Gerard says this year’s S1 Championships will be be hotly contested. “Kiern Jewiss may defend his title and obviously he’d be a strong favourite.”

It’s likely that more than 70% of S1 Honda cadet entrants will be using the Project One chassis manufactured by Gerard. BRK will account for much of the remainder with a few Zips also included.

Just a couple of years ago you might have expected the figure for Project Ones to be well above 90%. In IAME cadet, Zip also faces strong competition from Tonykart, Shark, RK and the exciting new Byatt Synergy. It all makes for an interesting year ahead, although the terms “interesting” and “good” aren’t always synonymous.

So far as motors are concerned we have cheerfully accepted one make monopolies in all Rotax, X30 and TKM classes. The same applies to KGP along with IAME, Comer and Honda cadets. Furthermore, every class that runs in Britain today does so with one specified brand of tyre. Free market economics don’t work in motorsport, where performance rather than price is paramount. People don’t clamour for a particular kart or motor because it’s cheaper than any other. It’s only in KFJ and KF2 where free choice of motor is permitted and look what has happened to those particular categories recently. Contrary to Adam Smith’s laissez faire theory, monopolies in karting have actually prevented prices from rising. I was comfortable with the previous situation whereby 95% of IAME and Comer competitors chose Zip karts with similar numbers opting for Project One in Hondas. At least there was some stability and no-one finished up getting their fingers burned. In a rapidly changing market, my fear is that customers could a new kart in January and might possibly discover that it’s been eclipsed by another make by April. I’m also concerned that extra competition between manufacturers could result in higher price metals being used on the karts of selected drivers. Just as worrying, a super competitive chassis could emerge that is only produced in limited numbers and therefore available to just a few lucky individuals..

Anticipation for the season ahead is certainly running high, with lots of questions yet to be answered. I’m certainly looking forward to getting some answers, but