Last year there were significant changes within the TKM 2-stroke classes to move away from TKM homologated karts to any kart meeting the required specification. There were plenty of fears it might cause a problem, but I think the reality is that it has been well received and opens up the market.
In contrast to the mass of changes last year, this time the changes are small and really could be described as a bit of tidying up rather than anything else – that is other than the weight and size issue for Juniors which will be going ahead but on a sensible level.
So just to run through the general changes for the 2-strokes, in no particular order they cover the following:
On materials. carbon fibre or similar chain guards will be permitted. The requirement for a steel or aluminium block to be part of the front bumper fitting is gone. Plastic is now OK.
For floortrays there is a new general rule and drive towards making them safer. Too many have sharp exposed corner edges which can cause a lot of injury. In future such items must be made safe, if necessary by bending the tray upwards at such areas.
Brake and throttle pedals are now free in terms of make and fitment, though unless driven by a disabled person, they must be retained as foot operated.
There is a revision to the rule on the new style noise box which allows and indeed recommends the fitment of a wet box which may now be retained by affixing to the noise box itself so long as no holes are drilled through into the air pathway. A sensible move which will open the market to suppliers of some neat devices I have seen. But note only to be used when official conditions are wet or open.
One quite significant tweak is to extend the twin piston ring Junior engine rule which requires the top ring to be free for at least half of its circumference at all times. Previously this had not applied to the Extreme engine with its one piston ring because it was never seen that a coked-in ring could be an advantage. However it seems some tuners have been experimenting with this so to nip it in the bud the new rule says no top rings stuck in position whatever the engine/class.
As previously detailed there are also the changes being introduced to ensure smaller Junior drivers are not swamped by over heavy karts. New maximum kart weights have been set down, a minimum driver weight in full race gear set at 38kg with a minimum height in race boots at 135cm.
The reality of the above weights and height is that it is very unlikely any average size driver will have any problem meeting them. What it is intended to do is prevent way to small kids becoming the victim of an accident with an over heavy kart. The TKM stepping stones of weight and restrictor size have already taken away such dangers and this is just a fine tuning of the situation.
This means that we can now keep the starting age for Junior TKM at 11yrs instead of it being raised as first suggested by MSA to 12yrs or even older.
As far as the TKM 4-strokes are concerned very little in the way of change. A tiny tweak to the available main jets, and a recommendation that when using the Enduro style radiator the exhaust manifold be protected by a heatshield as an alternative to webbing wrapped around. In fact thinking about it, both would be the perfect answer!
The only major change for 4-strokes is the switch for the Seniors to the Green label new age Maxxis tyres for dry weather which are proving so outstandingly good in maximising performance yet also providing astonishingly long life.
Only the other day I was told that after an experienced driver had done 200 laps he put on new ones and only found a couple of tenths. On the previous tyres it would have been at least half a second. A true peace of engineering quality for which Maxxis should be congratulated.
One change that is definitely chalked up for the 4-strokes is a likely addition of a TAG electric starter system similar to that used with great success on the 2-stroke engine. The technology has to be slightly different because of the high engine compression but it is hoped to have the whole thing tidied up and ready to sell early next year. A great boost it should be.
Finally as a general rule across both TKM 2 and 4-stroke Junior classes comes the suggestion that the two classes should race together wherever there is a demand. The two have performance similarity within hundredths of a second so why not?
Now while we are on the subject of regulations it is worth underlining the importance of being on top of them metaphorically. I am always amazed at the number of drivers and (dare I say it scrutineers) who are not up to date on the regulations.
If you are going to compete it is essential that you look through the regulations each year and see where things have changed. Some changes might seem very minor but if you get caught by one of them it could ruin your racing for the day if not longer.
Remember the scruts do a horrible job for which they should be thanked, and might not want to chuck you out, but if you have something which is out of order then it could get you excluded. So very important to read the rules and note the changes which are always underlined. There is no excuse for not knowing the regs since they are available for free download off the www.tal-ko.com website and also in the official MSA Kart regs book and TKM regulations book.
And finally… off to the Kartmania show shortly where Tal-Ko will have a stand displaying lots of TKM 2 and 4-stroke equipment as well as the demon new Veloce karts which have been giving outstanding performance.
The stand will offer a reasonable range of popular engine spares and tools, though clearly not everything! And as usual company boss Alan Turney and class co-ordinator Grahame Butterworth will be holding one of their workshops helping new and old drivers to get the best from their kart and engine. Don’t miss it!