Category Archives: Formula TKM Column

News, insight and updates from Sidney Sprocket, the man in the know when it comes to Formula TKM karting

Formula TKM: June, 2013 Formula TKM News

Written By: Grahame Butterworth

Spring is sprung – at last! Suddenly lots is happening on the TKM front around the UK. So let’s catch up on the news on and off the track.

First let’s just make the point that TKM numbers have been rocketing especially in the midlands area where at circuits like Kimbolton, Shenington, Rissington, etc the Junior TKM grid is the largest of the meeting and the seniors are not too far behind. No less than 45 Junior TKMs at the last Kimbolton meeting.

And it is good to hear that other circuits like Rye House for example are working hard to rebuild their TKM grids. The TKM class is very definitely growing once more, with increasingly Cadets (and their parents) recognising that the step into Junior TKM is the logical one to make for a variety of reasons.

Partly to help these potential newcomers and of course to help those in the TKM classes at present, there is a unique test day being held exclusively for TKMs at Whilton Mill on Friday July 26.

The circuit will be available to any TKM driver – including those without an MSA licence – to test for the day from 10am till 4pm. A full day there normally costs £50 but on this occasion it will be just £30 per kart.

There will be sessions split for Juniors and Seniors – and a further session for newcomers taking their first steps in a TKM kart. Top traders operating in Formula TKM will be there with test karts as well as Mr TKM himself, Alan Turney.

This is the perfect opportunity for drivers to find the sweet spots at this excellent circuit which now has a number of changes to barriers and kerbing as part of a substantial upgrade program promised by the owners.

If you’d like to take part in the TKM test day please email testday@tkmdriversclub.com It has been timed to fall just at the start of the schools hols so a good way to kick off the summer!

What’s more that test day is ideally placed to help drivers taking part in the TKM Club Championship which gets underway just as this magazine comes out with the first round at Kimbolton and with whopping grids. The final round double header at Whilton Mill will be a great finale.

And still on Kimbolton, a reminder that of course the Maxxis TKM Festival takes place there as ever in mid August and looks like it will also have some very strong grids. Full details of regs will be announced shortly but expect it to be very much in the tradition of this top event in the TKM calendar. August 10/11 is the date for your diary.

OK so enough of the off track diary stuff and now let’s move back to the track and reflect on the fact that the weather has finally changed – I hope!

Change in temperature really does make quite a difference to the way you go about running a TKM kart – or any other come to that. Now if you have been around in the class for a while then you’ll know what to do I hope, but for the benefit especially of newcomers who have joined this year and raced only in icy conditions, let’s go through the key points.

Engine wise you will almost certainly need to change the jet settings. The TKM BT82 likes to run at low engine temperatures and as the ambient temperature rises then it will need a little more fuel going through to keep it at top performance.

So look to slightly open out the high jet and keep looking for a puff of smoke from the exhaust when the driver puts the power on out of a slow corner. If it is doing that after a few laps then you know it is about right. Loads of smoke means it is too rich and none that it is too weak and engine will get hot and run slow after 4-5 laps.

Remember the piston port nature of the TKM engine means it will not seize like a Cadet if slightly too weak, but it will lose performance. It likes to be run rich for best performance. You can check the colour of the inside of the exhaust bend manifold after a race for guidance on how the engine has been running. Simply slide off the exhaust pipe with flex and look for a black to brown colour for good carburation. If light brown to grey-white then you are running far too lean and will be losing power.

From a tyre point of view then some big changes may be needed. The slicks ideally run on 130mm width rims at the front and 210mm at the rear and at pressures of around the 10 – 12 psi mark. It may well be that in the cold weather narrower rims and significantly higher pressures have been needed to get some heat into the tyres.

So now we are out of the ice age look at completely re-thinking strategy on that front and experiment to find what best suits your kart and driver. Before you start playing with the track adjustments optimise the tyres and then fine tune for best lap times and handling.

As far as the wets go now the weather has perked up suddenly those that said the new wets were half a year slower are now recognising that with some track temperature they come alive and are significantly quicker.

Again you may well find that instead of maybe 120mm and 150mm rims with high pressures you need to switch to something like 130mm and 180mm to really make the tyres shift the water and perform at the best. Certainly drop the pressures down to more like 12 – 16 psi.

The driver – well he can finally take off thermal underwear and two pairs of mittens! Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

Formula TKM: June, 2013 Formula TKM News

Written By: Grahame Butterworth

Spring is sprung – at last! Suddenly lots is happening on the TKM front around the UK. So let’s catch up on the news on and off the track.

[Dropcap] First let’s just make the point that TKM numbers have been rocketing, especially in the midlands area where at circuits like Kimbolton, Shenington and Rissington the Junior TKM grid is the largest of the meeting and the seniors are not too far behind. No less than 45 Junior TKMs at the last Kimbolton meeting.

And it is good to hear that other circuits like Rye House for example are working hard to rebuild their TKM grids. The TKM class is very definitely growing once more, with increasingly Cadets (and their parents) recognising that the step into Junior TKM is the logical one to make for a variety of reasons.

Partly to help these potential newcomers, and of course to help those in the TKM classes at present, there is a unique test day being held exclusively for TKMs at Whilton Mill on Friday July 26th.

The circuit will be available to any TKM driver, including those without an MSA licence, to test for the day from 10am till 4pm. A full day there normally costs £50 but on this occasion it will be just £30 per kart.

There will be sessions split for Juniors and Seniors – and a further session for newcomers taking their first steps in a TKM kart. Top traders operating in Formula TKM will be there with test karts as well as Mr TKM himself, Alan Turney.

This is the perfect opportunity for drivers to find the sweet spots at this excellent circuit which now has a number of changes to barriers and kerbing as part of a substantial upgrade program promised by the owners.

If you’d like to take part in the TKM test day please email testday@tkmdriversclub.com. It has been timed to fall just at the start of the schools holidays so a good way to kick off the summer!

What’s more that test day is ideally placed to help drivers taking part in the TKM Club Championship which gets under way just as this magazine comes out with the first round at Kimbolton and with whopping grids. The final round double header at Whilton Mill will be a great finale.

And still on Kimbolton, a reminder that of course the Maxxis TKM Festival takes place there as ever in mid August and looks like it will also have some very strong grids. Full details of regs will be announced shortly but expect it to be very much in the tradition of this top event in the TKM calendar. August 10/11 is the date for your diary.

OK, so enough of the off track diary stuff and now let’s move back to the track and reflect on the fact that the weather has finally changed – I hope!

Changes in temperature really do make quite a difference to the way you go about running a TKM kart – or any other come to that. Now if you have been around in the class for a while then you’ll know what to do I hope, but for the benefit especially of newcomers who have joined this year and raced only in icy conditions, let’s go through the key points.

Engine-wise you will almost certainly need to change the jet settings. The TKM BT82 likes to run at low engine temperatures and as the ambient temperature rises then it will need a little more fuel going through to keep it at top performance.

So look to slightly open out the high jet and keep looking for a puff of smoke from the exhaust when the driver puts the power on out of a slow corner. If it is doing that after a few laps then you know it is about right. Loads of smoke means it is too rich and none that it is too weak and the engine will get hot and run slow after 4-5 laps.

Remember the piston port nature of the TKM engine means it will not seize like a Cadet if slightly too weak, but it will lose performance. It likes to be run rich for best performance. You can check the colour of the inside of the exhaust bend manifold after a race for guidance on how the engine has been running. Simply slide off the exhaust pipe with flex and look for a black to brown colour for good carburation. If light brown to grey-white then you are running far too lean and will be losing power.

From a tyre point of view then some big changes may be needed. The slicks ideally run on 130mm width rims at the front and 210mm at the rear and at pressures of around the 10-12 psi mark. It may well be that in the cold weather narrower rims and significantly higher pressures have been needed to get some heat into the tyres.

So now we are out of the ice age look at completely re-thinking strategy on that front and experiment to find what best suits your kart and driver. Before you start playing with the track adjustments optimise the tyres and then fine tune for best lap times and handling.

As far as the wets go, now the weather has perked up suddenly those that said the new wets were half a year slower are now recognising that with some track temperature they come alive and are significantly quicker.

Again you may well find that instead of maybe 120mm and 150mm rims with high pressures you need to switch to something like 130mm and 180mm to really make the tyres shift the water and perform at the best. Certainly drop the pressures down to more like 12-16 psi.

The driver – well he can finally take off thermal underwear and two pairs of mittens! Enjoy.

 

Formula TKM: May, 2013 Formula TKM News

Written By: Grahame Butterworth

Straight line speed isn’t all about how much power the engine produces, and doesn’t necessarily mean a quick lap time. So let’s lift the lid on what really matters to get yourself up to the sharp end of the grid. But first…a word on some new electronics for the TKM TAG engine.
The ignition used for the TAG engine was uniquely developed for TKM using as a basis the system made by PVL to CIK international requirements and homologated with them for use in all the top karting classes.
Part of that CIK requirement mandated use of some advanced electronics which added to the complication of the wiring loom but were to be honest not actually doing anything useful.
Added to that the connectors used in parts of the system were prone to damage and needed some TLC to keep in perfect working order – and sometimes karters aren’t too kind to them!
The good news is that the CIK has recognised the need to change to a simpler system and at the same time PVL have revisited their design to make it much more robust. And that means a much updated system for the TKM TAG.
The key point to make is that this makes no difference to performance. The ignition curve is exactly the same and power is the same. But the good news is that it is easier to fit and will be much more durable in the harsh conditions encountered on a kart.
An updated fiche is currently being sorted with the MSA and expected to come into effect from May 1. All new TAG engines will be fitted with the new modular components and the original system superseded.
Individual spares will still be available for the old system, or for those who wish to upgrade, the new system is a direct replacement for the original. It’s a sensible move and should help avoid occasional glitches caused by bad connections etc.
Still on engines, then let’s look at those phrases so often uttered by drivers: ‘why is he quicker down the straight than me’ and ‘his engine must be quicker than mine’.
Now the real truth is that probably your engine is as quick as any other. The secret is getting the best from it – and that can arise from a whole variety of issues.
Firstly there are the basics. You must have an engine that has been professionally serviced to a good standard, has a good clean correct spark plug and an ignition system with good strong connections and clean wires.
The fuel system needs good fresh piping that fits well throughout, a clean in-line filter and a carburettor which is clean and has fresh diaphragms with the pop off valve set to the right figure. The carb should be set to the normal jet settings of around half a turn for the large main jet and two turns for the small screw low speed jet before fine tuning on the track.
If you are unsure on any of that then refer to the free running guide on the www.tal-ko.com website which goes through all these things in detail.
It is also important to have the inlet air filter clean and dry and the exhaust silencer not coked up and with a flex connection that is not broken and is about the right length. On that score it really is quite good practice to replace the silencer every say 50 hours of running and keep a good eye on the flex.
So assuming all the above we then come to the point when you feel slow. First obvious question is whether the gearing is right for the circuit – check what others are using. Second comes weight. If you are over-weight for the class then you will be slower. Sorry but that is a simple harsh reality – but you will gain grip in the wet!
Then we come to the crunch – your driving. The key to speed in a straight line is actually not how good your engine is but how fast you came out of the last corner. That means the actual corner speed and also how early you get on the power.
Someone who comes out of a corner 5mph faster is likely to be 5mph faster all the way down the straight. That’s what you are up against and only studying your driving style, your kart set up etc will give you the solution. Oh and if you are tall then hunch down low to reduce the drag.
So that covers straight line speed. If we then look at lap times the other thing that comes into play is braking. In a perfect lap you brake at the latest possible point before turning the kart into a corner under power. Any delay between braking and power is wasted time. To check that out use one of the little video cameras on your kart facing forwards. Study that in detail and you will soon see the tenths of time that can be saved.
Talking of which I happened upon a piece of karting on You Tube the other day which underlines everything I have been saying. It is of Stephen Letts in the Elite Final at the Kimbolton TKM Festival in 2011. He starts way down on the grid and it is very apparent that his engine is nothing special in a straight line. But thanks to some wonderfully confident and decisive driving he pulls off some great overtaking and ends the race almost on the podium.
True he is very aggressive on some kerbs (ouch) but his style and approach with some very late but controlled braking is an excellent example to anyone wanting to find the key to moving up the results. Well done Stephen!

 

Formula TKM: April, 2013 Formula TKM News

Written By: Grahame Butterworth

Spring is just around the corner and that’s the time when those less dedicated to karting 52 weeks a year start to stir themselves into action for a new TKM season of racing.

That makes it the time of year when decisions have to be taken on equipment and the need for engine rebuilds, chassis checking, brakes, etc. In reality, the time when often some money needs to be spent.

Top of the list should always be the matter of the engine(s) and whether it is time for a rebuild. And that’s where the age old question pops up – ‘how often should I get it rebuilt?’

That is probably the most common question that comes from competitors whether they are beginners or very experienced and it is a very valid question with not a simple answer.

Let us remember that Club 100 who operate the UK’s largest arrive ‘n drive race series, send their fleets of TKM Extreme engines back to Tal-Ko for a rebuild when they have done about 50 hours of hard racing. They are entirely standard Extreme 115cc engines running to a maximum rev limit of around 14,500rpm. That kind of shows just how good and strong these engines are!

Of course engine builders are keen for you to have your engine rebuilt as often as possible – it is after all money in their pocket. But there needs to be a happy balance and some of that balance depends on just how much you are over-revving the engines bearing in mind the recommended factory figure of 15,500rpm as a maximum.

So if you want an honest and practical suggestion on rebuild times then there’s no better person to listen to than the man who designed the engine and still builds and re-builds them – TKM boss Alan Turney.

He suggests for engines running at the very top level in Super 1 national championships, around 6-7 hours between a rebuild. That is taking into account they will almost certainly be over-revved, but most importantly will be producing near lap record times for most of those 6-7 hours.

At club level if you aiming to be at the very top then 12-14 hours is very realistic. For general club racing then 20 hours or maybe a touch more is perfectly reasonable. And just to add to that not so long ago my own son took a club championship title with more than 25 hours on an engine.

If you are using an engine just for fun driving then if you keep your revs to a maximum of around 14,000rpm similar to Club 100 then you really can get an incredible life from your engine. Just ensure you keep the carb setting on the rich side and always use correct grade of oil in the petrol at the recommend ratio.

However there is one important factor to bear in mind though…the standard of your rebuild. If you have a professionally rebuilt engine it should be good as new in terms of bearings, pistons, etc. And you can always be sure that you have had this done when the rebuilder gives you a bag of old parts back with your engine.

That bag of old used parts should be your re-assurance that you have had all those components actually replaced with new. And I’d personally suggest that when you take an engine for a rebuild you insist on that bag of bits. If you are not given one then do you have total certainty that everything has been changed?

Dare I say it, but in some instances when people get an engine back from a rebuild actually it has not had all the components changed for new, or maybe it has not all been built to as new condition. If your engine doesn’t perform right, or blows up after not a great deal of running, then you really do need to review your engine rebuilder.

Those Club 100 engines that do so many hours are rebuilt every time at Tal-Ko and go out the door with the guarantee of an engine ready to perform as new. Get it rebuilt right and it will run with great reliability over a long period of time. Get it done badly then it will probably go slow or even bang. Beware!

Now comes the rest of the kart. Top of that list is a careful check over all of the main chassis for cracks, then bearings, joints and fittings on the kart to see that nothing is worn. As a matter of reliability I’d personally change every nut and bolt, using Nyloc nuts wherever possible. Bearings should be washed out in a suitable cleaner, dried and then carefully re-lubricated with grease or oil.

Check the brake pads and if half worn then I’d suggest time for some new pads to be fitted. Whether or not you change the pads you need to change the brake fluid and bleed the system. You must use the best DOT fluid you can find – DOT 5 is best but in most instances DOT 4 is fine. The brakes will work more smoothly with new fluid, and with no grime or moisture in the fluid you should have a nice firm pedal with less likelihood to boil the fluid.

On tyres remember that from April 1 the old style Maxxis wets will become history (except for the Extreme Clubmans at Shenington who will run them to the end of 2013) so now is the time to be getting the new style ones if you have not already. Once the weather warms they might benefit from wider wheel rims than the old style ones – maybe 130 and 180mm front and rear. And remember they are larger in diameter so when you put them on add at least five teeth on to the axle sprocket compared to your dry gearing.

And finally give it all a good clean and polish with something like WD40 which both cleans and protects against moisture. You are ready to go racing in 2013. Have fun!

Formula TKM: March, 2013 Formula TKM News

Written By: Grahame Butterworth

Formula TKM News

Brrr it’s cold and wet outside – and that’s just the time when I used to grab an advantage over the rest of the TKM pack. How?

Well it was not because I am a weather masochist, but because those were the conditions that allowed me to use my generous body height and weight to full advantage.

Being of a normal size as compared to a jockey size, I was normally at a disadvantage because I was perpetually overweight on the class regs. And believe me being over a class minimum weight means a lot more than just losing out on acceleration.

Having done all my learning in cars where the odd few kilos one way or another makes little difference, in karts I suddenly realised that 4 kilos could have a very significant effect on the stopwatch. And more than that being tall also made a considerable difference.

Since then the situation has been made a lot fairer for ‘normal’ size drivers with revised weight limits. And TKM has been at the forefront with variable weight/power bands to equalise performance. But even so having a good understanding of the effects weight and height can have is very important to understand, whatever size you are.

Let’s start with height. Simple fact…the taller you are then the more you will stick out into the air creating drag in a straight line. Karts don’t go that quickly but believe me even at 60mph a tall driver sitting bolt upright will create a definite human air brake.

Short of chopping off your legs there is a not a huge amount to change the fundamentals. But if you get the driving seat laid back as much as possible and make sure you curl up as small as possible on the straights it will help.

But also look at the positive side. More height gives a higher centre of gravity and that can be translated into greater grip. It also makes it easier to get the inside wheel off the ground. You’ll probably need the wheels out further than someone shorter to find the right balance point.

In the wet all the plusses go to those who are taller. The greater roll effect on corners gives you an instant advantage without even having to move the seat. It’s the time to go for gold!

The new generation Maxxis wet tyres have been designed to give a bonus to everyone regardless of size because they are a larger diameter than before and so automatically raise the roll centre of the kart. But the taller drivers still have the upper hand.

Moving to weight, the situation is more complicated. In a straight line it is a simple undeniable mathematical reality that you will be slower accelerating than someone who is lighter.

But thereafter things get complicated. For example when it comes to braking the greater weight of man and machine will in theory mean it takes longer to stop. But…not always true because with only rear wheel brakes, if grip is at a premium then the greater weight on the rear tyres can actually help you stop quicker and hence counteract each other.

When it comes to corners there is also a complicated mix of plusses and minuses. Greater weight will help warm up tyres quicker and can therefore mean more grip. But, it requires more effort to keep the kart on line as the g-force of cornering kicks in. And once again come wet and cold conditions then some extra weight can very definitely be an advantage.

So in setting up a kart you need to take all of these things into consideration. Smaller lighter drivers will need raising (seat upwards) when it is cold and wet. Any weight bolted to the kart needs raising also. They will run with a narrower width to the setting of the rear wheels. They’ll love the dry but maybe struggle in the wet.

Conversely taller heavier drivers need to lose every extra fraction of weight they can from the kart, probably run wider track settings and will love it when it rains. Oh and add to that tyre pressures. As a generality lower for bigger drivers because they will generate more heat.

And then of course comes the question of driving style. It doesn’t matter what type of tyre you have or the class you are in, every tyre has it likes and dislikes.

The latest new generation green Maxxis slick tyres have a fantastic ability to remain at a very high level of equal performance for an unbelievably long length of time. Like most new tyres they will give their best by being given an initial few laps bedding in at moderate pace followed by 10 minutes to cool, off the track.

They run at fairly low pressures, typically around 10psi in warm weather. And they work best when used with minimal steering input. In other words not being thrown into corners sideways. Again for heavier drivers that means don’t abuse the tyres because you will be in danger of overheating them and missing out on their maximum performance. Keep it nice and tidy.

So the simple answer is that whatever the size and weight of your driver you need to optimise the kart to both driver and weather conditions. Beware of copying others who may be a very different size. Ideally you need a full test day to find for yourself what works and what doesn’t.

Formula TKM: February, 2013 Formula TKM News

Written By: Grahame Butterworth

 

Brrr it’s cold outside and that means for a lot of (sensible!) karters time to take a month off from racing – but for those that do not then you need to give real consideration to giving your kart and tyres a real winter cuddle. Let’s give temperature some thought.

The cold weather makes us all a little slow in our winter warming clothes. And when it comes to summer sun then if we are not careful we can blister. It is just the same with your race tyres – except they don’t have a coat to put on or take off.

Always store your tyres in some sort of bag, and vitally, keep them away from excess heat and cold. A set of tyres left sitting on a cold damp concrete floor in a garage over the winter will harden and lose grip. Equally having them fry in the summer will cook them.

Heat cycles have a huge effect on tyre performance and though the latest generation Maxxis tyres have a fantastic life, to get the best from them good care is essential. Last month we talked about the effect cold weather can have in reducing tyre performance and guess what, the jungle drums have started already!

The release of the new Maxxis wets coincided with some very cold weather and brought about some odd results with some finding the new wets faster and some slower. It is exactly the situation Sprocket warned of last month.

So if you have not got a temp gauge, when it comes to your tyres think of yourself in terms of temperature. If you need a coat on then so do they by way of extra pressure. And if it’s real thermal long-john weather then those tyres will need even more pressure and possibly narrower rims to generate some extra heat.

Likewise in summer when you are in a t-shirt then lose some of that air. So while 12 – 14 psi is a good starting point for average weather in the say 12 – 18 C area, outside of that you will need to make adjustment to get the best from your tyres.

Remember too that weight makes a difference so a Junior on the smallest restrictor size will need more pressure than a Senior running at around 160kg. Our tyres are no different to any others and how many times do you hear in F1 how a small change in track temperature can cause tyres to work well…or go off.

So in very cold weather you could easily go as high as 30psi or even more, while in the summer you might be down to as little as 8psi. You really do need to keep very careful note of the track temperature – it is the key to managing your tyres to best effect.

If you want to know more on that subject then go to the www.tal-ko.com website where you will see a lot of helpful advice on the subject within technical topics.

Now still on temperature let’s move on to the kart in general. Tyres will certainly give less grip in cold conditions so it is quite likely you will need to alter the set up to optimise grip. So that means probably reducing the rear track by moving the wheels in on the axle and widening the front track by adding extra spacers. Look for the point when you start feeling the inside wheels lifting well off the track.

Conversely, of course in hot weather if you find the kart hopping a lot then do the opposite and move the rear wheels out further. It can make a considerable difference both in terms of performance and comfort for the driver.

A similar principle can apply to the engine and is adjusted mainly by the carburation. You will probably have to adjust the high jet to suit very cold or very hot weather. Once you have done 2/3 laps, look for a small puff of blue smoke from the exhaust as you come out of a slow corner after a fast straight. Too much smoke? Turn the high jet in a tad, not enough then wind it out a little at a time.

Generally the BT82, like most 2-strokes, likes to be quite cool to deliver maximum power. But I have found that when it really is icy cold and wet it can get a touch of the shivers! I’ve used a strategically placed number plate to divert some cold air from the engine and thus increase its temperature with very beneficial effect.

Brakes should be OK even when temperatures are very low so long as you use them hard a few times when you first go out to get them warm. When it is very wet then the newly designed TKM brake wet cover will make things much more consistent.

And a special note to Dads and Mums… don’t forget the driver! In icy cold weather the driver’s feet and hands have a 60mph icy blast which can be very unpleasant. Make sure they are wearing thermals gloves/socks underneath the usual race stuff.

Finally let’s just remind you that this is a new year with new regs etc. All available from www.tal-ko.com for a free download along with lots of helpful advice in the running guides available from the same source.

Happy New Year.

Sidney Sprocket

 

 

Formula TKM: January, 2013 Formula TKM News

Written By: Grahame Butterworth

 

It’s that grotty time of the year when outside it is wet and grey, the wind is howling and the idea of going out to race a kart is not quite so appealing. So time to do some closed season preparation and maybe think of the odd Xmas present or two to go on your list.

Let’s start with winterising your gear. Ideally you should be giving it all a thorough check over before you pack it away in the garage – but let’s be honest too many of us just put it away until the New Year and some brighter days!

With the engine there are some important but simple jobs. If you have been racing in the rain then you must make sure that the engine is thoroughly rinsed through with a fuel/oil mix. That’s vital to prevent rust and damage to bearings etc. Give it a good swill around inside and then store in an upright position with a poly bag over it.

The insides of the carb don’t like being left either full of petrol or conversely dry with just old deposits left in them which turn into a sticky goo. Do that and almost certainly you’ll have trouble first time out next year unless you thoroughly strip and rebuild the carb.

So just prep your carbs for the winter by squirting a little WD40 through them. It will leave them in much better condition for when you want to use them again. And while you are at it then it is a good idea to drain off everything from the fuel tank and leave that dry.

To complete the fuel jobs get rid of any mixed fuel you have in cans as it goes off with time. You can put it into a suitable container which you then use to rinse and clean your chains. Mixed 2-stroke does that job very effectively if used in something like a large jar.

On the chassis itself make sure you clean it off and again use WD40 to spray over it all – especially any bare metal parts like the swivels and bearings. It is an excellent for cleaning and protection. But keep WD40 away from the brake pads as it will soak in over time and ruin them.

Finally clean your wheels and make sure if they have bearings in the front that they are clean, and well sprayed with yet more WD40. And do store your tyres with no air in them and somewhere relatively warm – definitely not on the garage floor which will ruin them.

On the subject of tyres, the new Maxxis wet tyres for the class are now in the country and available. But let’s just underline some important issues here. Last winter there were all sorts of stories flying around on supposed big changes to the Maxxis slick tyres which were supposedly a couple of weeks a lap slower than they should be!

TKM and Maxxis took the claims seriously and had tyres back for examination and also carried out their own track testing. The simple answer is that the tyres were perfect – they had just not been heated up properly to use or had been stored badly in the well below zero conditions.

That doesn’t mean putting them in the oven, it just means using some common sense and recognising that when the track temperature is virtually zero, or minus 10C as last year, then the tyres are going to need a lot more pressure to get them warm. So if you use a pressure of say 12psi in the summer then in the winter more like 24+psi might be needed to get them working. Normal stuff chaps.

So when you go out on the new wets bear in mind the track temperature. I’d reckon about 12 – 15 psi in normal temperatures. The new wets are undoubtedly faster than the old ones but they will need careful assessment to understand their turn on point in very cold conditions. None of us function well in the cold and race tyres are no exception!

Talking of the cold and wet and with Xmas in mind…kart brakes can be a real problem in the wet. The combination of lots of streaming water on the disc and low temperatures can make them difficult to be exact with. Add that to little rear end grip and you have a slippery nightmare.

For years we have all tried various bodges to keep them warm and dry including number plates and tank tape. But now comes the first ever proper solution to the problem. TKM now have some fully shaped brake covers which can easily be mounted in place with cable ties to solve the problem.

They are designed for the Tal-Ko Veloce kart but should easily fit most karts. Price just £20 plus VAT. Just remember to take them off when it is dry! A good idea for a pressy.

So on the subject of stocking fillers, wet brake cover aside, how about a TKM voucher? Can be for any amount and valid for all TKM components. Ideal for people who want to help you but have no knowledge of parts etc.

And finally on the present trail a classic Xmas present must be the new Liquid Image Ego action camera available from Tal-Ko. It takes HD footage with sound or stills and can be viewed by WiFi on your smartphone or tablet etc. Built to be tough and easy to mount on any surface and give you a playback of your action. A great pressy at £159.99.

Have a good one!

Sidney Sprocket