By Grahame Butterworth
Tal-Ko have found the source of an illegal engine modification having uncovered a batch of illegal engines. Grahame Butterworth explains.
An engine builder has openly confessed to me building illegally modified TKM engines. Yet ironically he claims to have done nothing wrong because he was just satisfying a demand from customers! What cheek. The confession came after three intense weeks of investigation by us at Tal-Ko to get to the bottom of a sudden discovery of illegally modified engines first found at the TKM Festival and then at the next S1 round.
Tal-Ko discovered a couple of engines with illegally modified pistons. Then as Tal-Ko boss Alan Turney dug deeper, what emerged is the work of one engine builder illegally modifying the cylinder liner in the barrel. But swift and decisive action by us and MSA eligibility scrutineers has seen a number of engines taken out of use.
The good news is that no more dodgy illegal pistons have been found and with full details being sent to every driver and every scrutineer we are confident that the lid has been firmly placed on that one. In looking at more engines and using new equipment, Tal-Ko discovered another totally illegal tweak had been going on. This time it involves deliberate modifying of the exhaust port and in some instances even the illegal removal of the cylinder liner to carry out this cheat. The rules make it totally clear that you’re not allowed to machine or alter the ports and other components in any way. What has been done is an illegal modification, and a new complete barrel is the only rectification which will cost many hundreds of pounds for each engine. Ironically these illegal engines weren’t very quick anyway.
The sad fact is that a number of probably innocent drivers/parents have found themselves in for a nasty shock when they brought their engines for a check on the piston. The piston was OK but what most certainly were not right were the illegal barrels. Several owners were devastated to find engines they had been told were perfectly legal are in fact illegally modified. And a number of engines with the agreement of the owners were sealed and taken to Tal-Ko for forensic type checking and advice on what needs to be done to make them legal. At this stage it would be wrong to go into too much detail about the source of the work, other than to say the person responsible has admitted the work. His account with Tal-Ko has been suspended. What action owners take will be down to them. Some want compensation, but that is not an area we can go into here. What we can do is set everyone’s mind at rest. What has been done to these engines is a cheat. Nothing more or less! And it is a cheat that will not be taken lightly with a great deal of investigation going on to unearth all those involved.
Says Tal-Ko’s Alan Turney: “We are absolutely resolute in stamping out this trend. This is not a class where engines can be fine-tuned to blueprint dimensions. The BT82 engine is already manufactured to fine tolerances ensuring very close performance so you race what you buy. While there are one or two minor areas in which you can modify certain specific items, there is no doubt over the rest. This is out and out cheating and I am pleased at the very positive feedback we have received from drivers and engine builders who use totally legal equipment. Everyone is looking to find that last fraction. But this is not trying to find an advantage – it is pure cheating. We are confident it only affects quite a small number of engines. For the good of every competitor we want to make sure we keep it that way and get rid of those illegal units.”
Have you been offered an illegal tweak? Please email us at alan. firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know your story. Discretion assured.!