“In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity. (Longfellow)
Good engineers are proficient in the art of grasping a complex problem and making it simple. Somewhere along the line we’ve performed this function in reverse. Something that started out as a very simple form of motor racing has been turned into a terribly complex sport, one which must be difficult for outsiders to fully comprehend. In her well thought out plans for the future structure of karting, Mary-Ann Horley posed a straightforward question for our legislators to ask before making any decision. “Will it bring in new karters or help to retain existing ones?” Had this simple question been asked, I doubt whether the Super Cadet class would have gone ahead in its present guise.
It was surely fundamentally wrong to make Super Cadet an open category rather than a single engine class. Anyone buying karts or motors is taking a double gamble, firstly that the class itself might survive and secondly that their equipment will remain competitive. Even so, sufficient numbers turned out at PF last October to suggest that this class might still flourish. However, four months elapsed before the next outing for this class and interest inevitably waned.To those administrators seeking reasons for this reversal, I offer the words of Conan Doyle’s famous literary creation, “It’s elementary my dear Watson!”.
“I can’t believe that an engine originally designed for chopping down trees will be with us in cadets for another eight years.”
Errors can become useful provided that lessons are learned from them. Next month the tendering process for cadet motors begins in earnest. For 23 years the Comer S60 and its W60 derivative have dominated cadets. During this period the class has produced some fabulous racing, while turning out quite a few memorable champions including Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Anthony Davidson and Paul Di Resta.
Nevertheless, I can’t believe that an engine originally designed for chopping down trees will be with us in cadets for another eight years. The time has surely come to take a dispassionate look at other alternatives, of which there are numerous examples. The MSA might be tempted to abdicate responsibility and throw the entire class open. I hope that it will have learned from the Super Cadet experience that this isn’t a sensible way forward.
Where simplicity, long life and low cost maintenance are concerned, the Honda GX160 takes a lot of beating, and that probably explains why this motor is favoured by just about every commercial operator. Fill up with petrol, pull the starter cord and away you go. That’s what makes Honda Cadet an ideal introduction into karting for young children and their parents. As with Comer W60 motors, the Honda GX160 was designed for industrial use and therein lies a significant problem.The fiche is, of necessity, a wide one and there are many ways to make these motors substantially quicker than standard models.
Instead of costing £400 or so, a race prepared Honda capable of competing in Super One is more likely to set you back £2,000. That’s still peanuts compared to the amounts many Comer owners are forking out, but the class hasn’t, as yet, been subjected to the rigours of mass participation. Making Honda the main cadet category would, I suspect, dramatically alter its present characteristics and we could see motors changing hands for ten times today’s figures.
I became a fan of WTP because it was a genuine racing engine manufactured within very fine tolerances. Unfortunately this motor became uncompetitive in Europe and the British market wasn’t large enough to sustain production on an economic scale. A number of Italian manufacturers are now producing 60cc motors in large volumes. I spoke about this to James Mills who is specifically involved with IAME.
“I’m certain that race bred TAG motors are the way forward for cadets,” James insisted. “Initial costs might be a bit higher but you’d eliminate all the nonsense of people paying sky high prices for second-hand motors. A firm like IAME is capable of turning out units to whatever specification the MSA wants, be it quicker or slower than today’s class. Sealing is an option but needn’t be essential. Tell-tale indicators can be incorporated so that scrutineers are able to detect immediately if any modifications have been carried out. Water cooling reduces noise and may well be considered desirable by our governing bodies. This can be incorporated for around £120 so it isn’t an inhibiting factor.”
We needn’t look beyond these shores for a Comer replacement. Alan Turney is confident that Tal-ko has the capacity to manufacture 60cc motors in large quantities. “We’d need a bit of notice to set everything up but there’s no reason why we couldn’t produce an engine with similar characteristics to the BT82 which has been tried and tested over many years,” Alan claims. “The TKM class produced a level playing field and, even when numbers far exceeded today’s cadet figures, we never heard of second-hand motors being sold at exorbitant prices.”
Three years ago in a letter to Karting magazine I suggested that future British Championships for cadets should be decided with motors supplied by the manufacturer and drawn at random. This may have seemed a fanciful notion yet it provided the basis for deciding last year’s U18 world title. It’s certainly a feasible proposition, especially if the championships were held over a single weekend. Instead of being elitist, open only to those with large budgets, the British Championships would suddenly become inclusive once again.
Eight years have elapsed since the process of choosing a cadet motor was last embarked upon. This time I hope to see a completely open affair with the selection criteria clearly defined beforehand. If we emerge with a cadet motor that is instantly competitive straight out of the box, then something worthwhile will have been achieved. As the Meerkat himself remarked, “SIMPLES!”