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Tech Tuesday: 10 ways to get the best performance in TKM

As in any class that relies on a control engine it’s those last fractions that can put you on the top step of the podium. Yet especially in the case of our TKM BT82, actually finding them is not something that comes from spending piles of hard earned dosh. It comes down to attention to detail.

The whole reason for the existence of the class when it first hit the tracks 20 plus years ago was to provide close racing at minimum cost. No cheque books, just good preparation and of course top notch driving. Part of that thinking the class was designed to operate with the tightest of regulations on the engine to prevent tuning at a time when other classes were struggling because too much freedom meant engines could become redundant in the space of a month when something quicker came out!

But although ‘tuning’ is kept to a minimum within TKM for that reason, there are plenty of small ways in which you can help maximise performance, not by cheating but by perfecting. Most of these tweaks cost next to nothing and can be carried out by anyone with just the smallest of ability. So here we go with 10 areas where you can find time:

Three BT82 Units

1) When is the engine at its best?

In pure performance terms the BT82 has not been modified over its history, The dimensions in the fiche today are pretty much the same as those created two decades ago. However there have been some internal changes which are worth pointing out.

To increase reliability and rigidity, things like the crank main bearings have been increased in size. This doesn’t make the engine quicker but it does mean you can rev it harder for longer.  Several years ago the method of manufacturing the liner was changed from old style casting to the latest computer based machining. So on older engines there will be small variations which can mean one will have a fractional benefit over another. On the latest type engines the machining is to such fine tolerances that everyone should be exactly the same. So you can forget what has happened in some other classes where people pay silly money for engines that are supposed to be ‘special’. You will not find those in TKM. But there are important things that need to be done to maximise what you have.

There are two ways you can purchase a new TKM engine – standard or fiched. If gaining the ultimate top performance is not vital then by all means just take the standard engine. It can always be fiched later. But if you want the ultimate then go for the fully fiched unit. For a Fiched unit Tal-Ko includes extra checking and permitted machining of the cylinder liner top and the cylinder head to give best possible settings. The use of correct thickness base gaskets first puts the cylinder and its ports in the ideal position. Then when the cylinder position is established, the correct head volume and squish clearance is achieved with this machining.

Such factory fiching ensures the engine not only runs fast but also complies fully with the rules. It is also a job that needs to be done by a trusted specialist.  At Tal-Ko that job will cost you around £110 and comes with the promise of a job perfectly done. If someone tries to get you to spend a lot more than they are either robbing you or doing something illegal. Beware! Either way when you get your new engine you need to run it in for around 1 to 1.5 hours to put it through lots of heat cycles and to loosen it all off.


2) Carburettor

This is the place where you will find the most power for the least £s.

Well first let’s just say that cleanliness is vital here so make sure that you have a fuel filter between the tank and carb. One in the tank and another in the pipe is perfect. You need one vital tool invaluable in ensuring that the carburettor is performing correctly – the carb pressure tester. You connect the tester pipe to the carb petrol inlet and then slowly pump up the pressure until the inlet needle valve opens. This pressure reduction is called the “pop off”. Expect the valve to open at about 9-11psi and to then shut at about 6-8psi.  Make sure the valve is free and wet with either petrol or WD40 otherwise it can be gummed and give a silly figure. If the pressure readings are not right repeat several times and adjust by gently altering the angle of the paddle in the bottom of the carburettor.  TKM sell a simple device for assisting with this for about £3.  It is a simple paddle height gauge to give you the correct clearance needed between the paddle and carburettor base for the correct setting.

The pressures you test with this gauge have a direct effect on the fuel/air mixture so it is vital you keep the pressures pretty consistent otherwise your carburation can be seriously affected.

As a rough guide the low jet (the one with a screw head) should start about two turns out and the high one (with the T bar) about half a turn out. And they should always total about 2.5 turns out. Now that’s the base point. Now you need to tune on track. There are some important things to watch for. First, over the first few laps when the kart brakes for a corner and then accelerates there should be some blue smoke coming from the exhaust.  If none then the engine could be too weak. That means it will lose power as the engine gets hotter over a race distance and could cause harm. Richen the mixture by turning the high speed (T bar) out say a quarter turn.

Then the acid test is on the longest straight. The engine should pull hard and sweetly all the way down the straight. If it stops pulling and starts to chortle that’s known as 4-stroking (don’t ask me why!) and means it is too rich. Just wind the high jet in a fraction until you get it clear all the way down the straight.

It is a total myth that weak mixture will make the engine quicker. While it will on some types of two-strokes, the piston port BT82 thrives on being quite rich especially in the mid-range. To check carb settings after a race simply slide off the exhaust with the flex from the manifold and look down inside the manifold. If it is light grey it is too weak. Dark grey/black is ideal and wet black too rich.

Carb adjustment… Bandit Style

3) On track adjustment of carb

What some people don’t realise is that for optimum performance in a race you may need to adjust the high jet.  If it is very hot it may well benefit from being richer – winding out the jet a little. And ironically sometimes the same applies if it is very cold. Doing this requires some practice to make sure you can reach your hand down to the engine and tweak the high jet those small amounts to fine the perfect setting.

General rule here is half way through a race when the engine is up to temperature simply open out the high jet 1/8 turn plus. This will prevent the engine getting too hot and running slow.  You’ll often see top drivers making such adjustments – that’s what helps make them winners!


4) Fuel

Two key things here. The TKM engine likes being cool to give best power. The oil in the oil/fuel mix helps keep it cool. Some people think they can gain performance by changing that mix by reducing the amount of oil. It really doesn’t give any extra power and indeed especially in hot conditions could actually lose power.

Second the fuel itself. The BT82 is fundamentality a low compression engine so therefore use of super unleaded is not likely to gain any performance. On the Tal-Ko dyno Alan Turney has not noticed any difference between performance of the two. However if you do choose to use super or are using S1 control fuel then it is wise to make sure you use the fuel in testing just in case it changes the mixture effects.

Exhause flex covered in heat resistant sleeve

5) Exhaust flex

So that bit of flex between the two is important to be in good condition. It costs next to nothing so make sure it is regularly changed, make sure it is cut straight and always use the flex ring insert available from Tal-Ko, which keeps the flex fully open at the exhaust end where without this clever ring insert the flex can distort and collapse partially blocking the flow.

And then the vital thing is to make full use of heatproof webbing to thoroughly seal it all. Wrapped tight and using twisted steel lock wire or steel cable ties to secure. It will make you go faster and keep the noise down.

Oh and that piece of flex really can make a real difference. Standard length is about 65mm. Longer gives you better low to mid-range performance. Shorter helps at the top end. I’d always advise that longer is better than shorter because the strength of the engine is maximising its low to mid-range performance enabling a smaller axle sprocket to give high MPH down the straights.

tkm exhaust diagram

6) Exhaust

The exhaust itself can’t make you go quicker but it can make you go slower. When it is new the exhaust is nice and clean inside and the gases can pass through efficiently. But with use it will gradually and inevitably get clogged up with oily carbon deposits. They restrict the space and slow down the gases – and that means you get less power.

You will actually find the exhaust weighs more with all the deposits inside so you can keep an eye on it by use of a very accurate scales. So periodically you need to clean the exhaust out. Health and Safety laws forbid me from telling you what the technique is that many people use to clean it out and to be honest it really is a difficult and messy job. The best (easiest) way is simply buy a fresh new one when your one is past its sell by date.

By the way the other tip here is to keep one exhaust for testing and then have a fresh new one which is only used for racing. Then after a year you throw out the test one and move onto using the race one for testing and buy a new race one.  Simple and cost effective.


BT82 PISTON & RINGS 100cc 2 TK

7) Piston Rings

First let’s explain something here. Some years ago one inventive engine tuner found there was an advantage to be had by artificially gumming the top ring in place in the piston. It helped cheat the rule on head volume testing. Hence the rule was brought in that the ring must be more than 50 per cent free.

Now in reality you want all rings to be free in the piston grooves to do their job properly. So don’t get caught out with a ring which has become accidentally gummed in the piston To check this, take off the cylinder head and then lift the barrel off the piston. Once you have done that you can easily see if a ring is stuck. If it is then gentle movement of the ring in the piston should help it come free. This must be carried out carefully by easing the ends of the ring until it is fully free to lift it off the piston. Once off you can carefully scrape clean the ring and its ring groove before fitting it back into position. This is also a good opportunity to also fit new rings if required.  Keep the rings pressed in as you guide the piston back into the barrel piston bore. Nimble fingers help!

A nice free ring helps give good all round power and will stop you falling foul of scrutineering.

Self adjusting or not, go to hard on the brakes and you’ll end up like this fella

8) Brakes

Brakes won’t make you go quicker but can cost you a lot of performance. You want them to work well when you hit the pedal, but give immediate release when you come off the pedal. Even slight binding will cost you a lot of time. Until quite recently the brakes used on karts were manually adjusted and ideal for sprint racing because you could set them up so that there was no fear of binding when not in use. With that type you just need to make sure the brake disc is centrally positioned within the pads and then get the pads adjusted correctly with pad shims or threaded adjuster. No problem.

However more recently self-adjusting brakes have become normal fitment. Using the same principle as on cars, the pads press on the disc when in use and then back off a fraction to give clearance. However it is common to find that they still feel like they are binding a touch. To help overcome this quite a lot of systems now use ‘floating discs’ which have a degree of side to side movement to help reduce binding. But…I’d have to say that even then there is a risk. The best systems have springs to help take the pads back off the disc and should give the best result.

But whatever type you have one thing is vital – the hydraulic fluid and pad seals. You need to regularly drain out the fluid and put in fresh Dot 4 or Dot 5 fluid and bleed as appropriate to the system. And then artificially move the pads in and out a small amount to help ensure they are nice and free. If they are sticking then you must change the pistons and rubber seals and refill, bleed etc.

Jack Partridge

9) Racing in the wet

Three critical things here. First you need to fit a TKM wet box cover over the inlets of the air box. It keeps out the majority of water from the carb intake which is vital in preventing problems with carburation. However even with that in place you need to check the filter after every time on the circuit. If it is wet you need to dry it out using an airline blowing air outwards from the inside. Ideally change to a dry filter. If it is wet it can make the mixture too rich.

Second, the brake disc needs protecting from water to keep up its temperature. Tal-Ko make a ready-made item for its brakes. You can make one just from a cut down number plate.

Finally, if you have the time raise the kart seat an inch or two. Weight at an extra height helps increase grip and is an important way to sometimes find quite a lot of speed when it is slippery.

TKM regulation Maxxis tyres

10) Tyres

Let’s start by killing one commonly held thought – going flat-out on new tyres will give the best results. No, it works in F1 but they have totally different tyres. With kart tyres it can lose you performance. What counts are heat cycles and if you go straight out on new tyres giving them maximum grief you may well cook them and will certainly reduce their life. Don’t do it!

What you should do is go out on a new set at normal pressure and do just three gentle laps. Then come in and let them cool. Re-check pressure and then you can go out and press them hard. They will last longer and give the longest length of consistent good performance. And…use the pressure wisely. Higher pressures such as 24psi may be needed in the winter to make the tyres work in cold conditions. But in hot conditions it might be 8psi.

It is very important to vary the pressure to suit the conditions. Personally I’d always use a tyre temp gauge to check the temperature of the tyres when they come off the track. Ideally you want about 75/80C as a rough maximum. More than that and you will potentially cause excessive wear and heat damage.


Written by Grahame Butterworth


Like this article? Then read more Tech Tuesday here:

Tech Tuesday – How to read your tyres

Tech Tuesday – Kart Aerodynamics

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Getting in the Zone


If a driver has followed our previous articles, they will be prepared and ready to do business out on the track. Their equipment will be sorted and they won’t be worrying about anything other than the race ahead. There is one last, key area that a driver must master to maximise their chances and that is the maer of being in the correct frame of mind – getting in the zone. The majority of drivers can relate to those races where they’ve not felt ready for the race ahead; they end up making a total mess of the start, finding themselves in a position they shouldn’t have been, missing opportunities they should have taken, finally leaving the track disappointed in themselves for obtaining a result lower than what was possible. It is fundamental for a driver to be fully focused and raring to go every time they hit the track – they must find their trigger.

The Trigger
The human mind is an incredibly complex maer
that is cable of an untold number of things, it is therefore important to understand how to use it to
our advantage. Monday morning generally triggers tiredness and a lack of motivation (especially aer
a weekend of racing), seeing someone eating something really nice tends to trigger hunger, triggers can be used to release adrenaline before going out on track. Each driver will have their own individual trigger, however there a number of common areas that triggers can be found:

Music is produced to evoke feelings within oneself, the right kind of music can therefore be utilised to trigger adrenaline and focus in a driver. Athletes from around the world, in all forms of sport will often talk about listening to music before they perform, however different genres are often spoken about depending on what the athlete is looking to achieve from it. With drivers often struggling to balance being fired up alongside being focused, certain genres of music will help more than others. Some drivers who need firing up will listen to
fast paced music, while those looking to focus will listen to something more calming. It is all about learning yourself as driver, deciphering what you need to get in the zone and choosing music accordingly.

Human interaction
Some drivers can be forced into the zone with a speech from mechanics/family/ teams/motivational speakers telling them things along the lines of “get out there and show them who is boss.” Some drivers respond beer to a set fist pump or
handshake before hiing the track, it can trigger the necessary emotions to get them in the zone. Superstition/Patterns A large number of drivers use paerns without even realising, some drivers are incredibly superstitious and use paerns because they feel they need to, either way it is another area that can be used to get
a driver in the zone. These patterns can be anything from always putting the right glove on before the left, putting a lucky penny in your race boot or even giving your mum a hug before going to the grid.

Ultimately there a huge number of variations of triggers that a driver can use in order to get into the zone before a race, it is down to each individual driver to discover which works best for them. When used correctly, a specific trigger can be an incredibly powerful when it comes to maximising a drivers potential for winning.

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Tom Joyner karting tips

Genk European July 2010

Karting tips from champ Tom Joyner

Tom Joyner was a hugely popular winner of the Northern Qualifier at PFi last month doubly so beecause only does a few races a year. It wasn’t entirely unprecedented though as he had come 4th in last year’s European KF2 Finals at Genk and has been a frontrunner on the national scene for the last half decade.

Tom is now 19 and was headed off to Nottingham University last autumn to study Product Design and Engineering, but he decided to take a gap year and have one last shot at international success. He’s already reconsidering that and is thinking about combining university with racing next season, or even another gap year if someone comes through with a big opportunity. He races with Ash Todd’s AMT Racing and ideally would like to pick up some sponsorship and stay with the same team. He would like to do the British Championship at PFi and thinks it will be a really good event but he’s due to go off to Uni the day after.

At PFi he had recently switched to a Tonykart and the test the week before the Qualifier was his first time out on the kart.

“I found an extra tenth that I perhaps lacked at Genk and carried that through to the next week. In Qualifying everyone said the track was getting slower but it was OK and being at the front then helped in the heats.

“Klinkby-Silver and Rossel were much closer to the pace in the Final and could have been a threat if they had started further up.

“I liked the new layout of the weekend, as everyone knew they were through. I also liked the long final, although I got out and couldn’t move my hands! The tyres were surprising as I’ve always seen Vegas destroy themselves but they were just as fast in the fourth heat as in the first. With the Dunlops from last year you couldn’t be as smooth.”

He isn’t changing anything for the Final at Zuera but thinks there is more to come from the TM engine. “It’ll be a lot closer there as more people know the track,” he says, himself never having been there before.

Last year at Genk he says “it was a weird weekend, I was testing on old tyres thec week before then put on the new tyre, I qualified 9th but didn’t have the pace to win and had an accident in the last heat so started 15th for Final 1. I came through to 5th but I had taken a lot out of the fronts with the front brakes and dropped to 10th. In the Final I came up to 4th, the grippy track suited my driving style and I surprised a lot of people.”

I asked Tom what he thought could make things better for drivers like him. He said “there needs to be less classes and less races in the British Championship. We have the most rounds out of any country, I think in the Belgian Championship there’s only four rounds.”

“With so many races you often have to go testing, then go to a Super One for example, and then go back and race at the track you tested at and it’s not ideal. It’s also important that people in this country can do their own championship.”

He thinks this year’s one-off British Championship will be a good thing as anyone could win it. “Also with a new track it should be interesting, hopefully Mark Litchfield won’t drive it for a week before everyone else!” Tom is more of a fan of PFi than a lot of people, he says it looks like a worse track to drive than it actually is, and says there’s good viewing with the bowl effect.

From what he told me I’ve picked out seven points that help Tom succeed in a class that is infamous for excessive expense.

Embrace what’s difficult

Tom doesn’t shy away from things that might faze other drivers. For example at PFi “for the final we set up the kart to come on really late and I really struggled at the start, dropping back seven places. The tyre pressures were so low I didn’t know if I could get round the first corner.”

He says his favourite track is Braga as “it’s really old and bumpy, which makes it really interesting, and you struggle with the same lines on each lap, and the kerbs show up your mistakes. I like that about PFi as well.” In the UK his favourite track is Rowrah, for the same reason with the kerbs and also the inclines.

Pick a good team and stick with them

Tom has been with AMT since 2007 when he was racing in JICA and thinks they are a huge reason why he can be successful. “I go over everything with Ash and go over the data and have learned not to just go out and change everything and to think about it more.

“We get on well and believe in each other, there’s no doubts anywhere. Lots of people change teams quite a lot, but you’re going to have good and bad days so it’s better to build relationships.”

Stay calm

“At PFi we didn’t think we’d be that far at the sharp end but it gave us a bit more confidence and everyone worked extra hard.” A few years ago Tom thinks he might have fluffed it at PFi being in the position he was in but now is in a really good frame of mind for it. He also says not to make rash decision when in reality you’re not far off the pace.

Keep learning

Tom does admit he would be at a disadvantage from his limited track time if he was younger and less experienced. But you can mitigate this by taking in everything you can whenever you can.

Don’t listen to paddock rumours

“People are put off by what they hear about the costs but Rotax can be just as bad. A works team will charge a lot of money but if you go with a good national team it costs much the same as other classes. With the engines there’s quite a lot you can change if it’s not good enough whereas in Rotax you often have to pay a lot for a good one and can only change the carb.

“Going abroad costs more but it’s the same for Euromax. In the European Championship tyres are free, in WSK the tyres cost but I haven’t done that.”

Keep fit

“I can’t stay kart-fit, but I ride my bike to work and I’m cycling for four or five hours at work as well,” said Tom, who works as a postman during the week.

Enjoy it

“Every time I stop for a while I want to get back racing, not because I want to get into F1 or anything, just because it’s a good feeling and I enjoy myself.”

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Get the most out of a junior – without messing with their head

MSA British Cadet Championship and the FKS Championship for Mini Max and Junior Max.Putting your child into their first kart is an exciting time, the start of a journey which at best could take them towards motor-racing stardom and at worst should be a fun period in their life where they will make friends, gain confidence and learn things that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.

Before you go and buy a kart, examine your motives, it should be a partnership. If it for you to live you dream through your child maybe its not such a good idea as it might not be possible to guide, motivate and encourage without being the archetypal pushy parent.

Dont place any conditions on the drive, going karting or not isnt about doing well at school or finishing chores at home, if you need to persuade your child to do these find an other means.

A professional relationship?
They are the driver; you are the team manager, mechanic and tea boy rolled into one. Never forget though, that you are also dad or mum. A 10 year-old does not cease to be 10 just because they put on a racing suit and crash helmet, in the same way that school and home need to be a safe and secure in order for them to flourish, the karting environment needs to be too. By safe I dont mean risk free, motor-racing is dangerous, I mean that your child needs to know that somebody that they know and trust is there for them. There will be times where your child is upset, angry or frustrated and doesnt want input from their team manager they will just need their mum or dad.

Let the driver own the kart. A seat fitting session does a lot to make them feel physically comfortable in the chassis and be able to operate the throttle brake and steering effectively. Psychologically it helps to orientate them in the kart and makes them feel special. From this day onwards it is their kart and they should be involved with every decision made about it.

Some kids will be fanatically interested in all aspects of Kart racing and love to get stuck in with the preparation as well as enjoying the driving aspect, others may only be interested in the driving part. The only thing that really matters is that they enjoy some aspect of it. You should be competing because everybody gets something out of it. Heaven forbid that your child only goes racing because they desperately want to please Mum or Dad.

The basics
Before you even venture out to a circuit make sure that your child knows what the flag signals mean and understands what to do when they are used.

At the circuit if at all possible walk the track to give them some idea of where it goes and point out the track entry and exit points, giving them one less thing for them to worry about.

Let them know where you will be standing, and be there. Inexperienced drivers will drive around the circuit looking for you, standing where you can be identified means that they can check that Dad/Mum is there, relax and get on with driving.

First couple of times out forget trying to go fast instead concentrate on the absolute basics. Dont get into explanations about things like understeer and oversteer, this will just complicate things. Merely getting your child to recognise and drive on the racing line will pay dividends. Not only will driving the line start to make their track-craft second nature, it will keep them out of harms way. No matter how talented your child is, for the first few outings they are going to be slow in comparison to the more experienced drivers and they will be overtaken, regularly. Keeping strictly and consistently to the racing line will allow the other drivers to whip smoothly past and it will make them do the work while your child concentrates on getting better.

There is very little that your child could do that would make them more unpopular on the circuit than to be inconsistent with their placing on the circuit. Indeed one of the best compliments that you can be paid early on is for other drivers to say I always know where he/she is going.

Moving on
As a parent, dont expect too much too early. There is no substitute for loads of seat time; be patient and as the laps pass the times will drop. Sometimes there will be a significant improvement within the course of a day at the circuit; other times seemingly nothing will be happening. At this point it is tempting to start to fiddle with the kart settings but unless the kart is visibly demonstrating huge understeer or oversteer problems try to resist the urge to change anything, most of the improvement (and many of the perceived handling problems) still lies with the driver. What they need most of all in order to improve is a kart that handles consistently.

Sooner or later they will start to arrive in the pits with tyres that have picked up quite a layer of rubber, thats encouraging because the driver is now going quickly enough to generate sufficient heat in their slicks to get them a bit sticky but still isnt going quite fast enough to keep them clean. Its a laborious job getting rid of this layer (I used to use a scraper attachment attached to the nozzle of a hot air gun) but doing so will help the kart to remain consistent.

One thing that you can guarantee 100% is that your son or daughter will reach a plateau where despite all help and advice offered they just arent getting any faster, often despite the fact that you can clearly see where there are several seconds to come. Getting cross after being told Im driving as fast as the chassis/engine/tyres will go isnt the way to deal with this. A plateau is a very real thing, so far as your child is concerned they ARE driving the kart as hard as will go, disagreeing with them is calling them a liar.

Some drivers will quickly work through a plateau phase. Especially if you stay calm and gently encourage. If they appear very stuck it can be a good time to employ little race psychology, a favourite of mine was to do non-existent tweak on the kart that would allow them to brake a little later or turn in a little harder (or whatever I had identified might be the problem area). As the responsible adult you had to be darned certain that the mechanical solution you offer is safe. It is fine telling your child that you have done a modification that should allow them to brake loads later when you have identified that they are braking very much too early but telling them the same when they are only a few tenths off a good race pace will either cause an accident or have them never believing anything you say again!

On the pace
As a driver’s times get close to a proper race pace I favour a collaborative approach, encouraging as much driver feedback as they are able to give considering their age and experience. Its surprising how many kids will very adeptly drive around a problem unless given an opportunity to voice their opinion. Ask them to talk you round a lap, telling you in as much detail as they can where they are braking and accelerating and what the kart is doing in the bends.

For younger or less experienced drivers put questions simply. Does it slide worse in some parts of the track than others, which end of the kart has the least grip? More experienced drivers can be asked directly about understeer, oversteer, and in which parts of a bend it exhibits these characteristics. One question I use regularly is, what would you like your kart to do differently today?

Sometimes a straight question works. Where do you think you might be able to pick up a little time, is there any way that I might be able to help you to go faster? Never make a change to the kart that will affect handling without telling the driver about it. Although nobody makes a change that they think will affect the handling in a negative way, sometimes you will make things worse. Letting the driver know what you have done and how it should affect the handling is respectful and sensible.

Make positive suggestions but dont lay down the law, you can be reasonably firm though, Ive noticed that the rest of the field do XYZ between bends 7 and 8, would this work for you? NO..? Well, Id like you to try it for at least couple of laps, if it works, Great! If not Ill shut up about it!

It also doesnt take long for many drivers to latch on to the catch-all answer, I need more power! A well phrased open question will always prompt far more useful discussion.

Rewards? Some kids respond well to rewards, do you think that a 48.5 second lap is possible? Ill tell you what… Ill stand you a square of chocolate (or anything else insignificant but fun) for every tenth of a second you manage to knock off between your current time and our new target. The reward is staged because a few attempts without any success could discourage more than it encourages.

Pep talks and post race appraisals
Im constantly amazed and appalled that some peoples idea of an appraisal is along the lines of That was rubbish… they were all over you… what went wrong… 3 seconds off the pace… un-ruddy-believable!

In management they emphasise that the word appraisal contains the word praise. Dont tell Timmy how brilliantly he drove when patently he didnt. But no matter how frustrated you are with what you consider to be a poor session or race, a calm and steady approach to the post race de-brief is needed. Make sure that you point out where things went well, criticise by all means but make sure that you do it constructively and make sure that come up with a plan for improvements that you both agree. Use what management types call a praise sandwich, dealing with an area that needs work in-between two good points.

Some kids respond to the go-get-em-tiger approach to pep talks, others will go out and drive the wheels off their kart without a word from you, it is down to your childs personality. Self-belief is one of the key weapons in a racing drivers armoury but it is also a double edged sword, persuading your child that they are unbeatable or allowing them to foster a false opinion of their talent can result in shaken confidence if they are soundly beaten. Make sure that pre-race encouragement isnt too over-the-top. I think that you stand a very real chance here bolsters confidence but allows a little wriggle room should things go awry.

We all make mistakes, so it is inevitable that your child will too, you dont get particularly cross if your child spins out of contention while in 23rd position, so why should they get a severe ear bashing if they do the same while in a podium place? No matter how frustrated you are, storming up to them (Ive seen it) yelling you threw that away achieves nothing. What is for certain is that they didnt deliberately spin or crash so they will be as upset as you are. This is the time for empathy, Crikey Ed you must be gutted, what happened? Chat about it, come up with a solution and agree that this is something to work on for the future.

Rather than condemning the kart which needs to be trusted to perform next time out, sometimes you will have no option but to exhibit broad shoulders and take at least some of the blame when a tired driver needs to sound off after a frustrating time. Its part of being an adult…

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Tips: Karting speed secrets

[box type=”success” align=”aligncenter” ]This article was first published in Karting magazine. Subscribe to Karting magazine here and get three issues for just £1.[/box]

Everyone wants to be fast: faster than they’ve ever been, faster than the one in front. How exactly do you do that? Karting magazine speaks with a number of current and former successful racers to reveal the secrets of their success.

[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]Terry Fullerton – Former British, European and 1973 World champion: “There are two elements which you cannot do without in order to be quick and successful: firstly you need the deter mination and obsession to succeed. Secondly you then need the in-born ability and natural gift to be able to drive quickly. Nigel Mansell wasn’t the most gifted driver but he was so determined that it made him a Formula One world champion. I never used to walk tracks and I only do it with young kids to help them learn which lines to take. When they reach 13 years old, it’s no longer important in my opinion.”[/box]
[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ] Jake Dennis – 2010 Under 18 world champion and 2012 Formula Renault NEC champion: “Fitness, both physical and mental, is so important no w. Karting has progressed so much overseas that you hav e to be at the top of your game. I have a psychological coach, they help to give you the confidence to succeed and make you focus for longer periods. All the top drivers are at the World Championships, so to come out on top requires the finer details. You also need dedication, researching each circuit is a must. I never really ran data when I was in karting, but it has advanced since I left and I’ve seen how it can help young drivers.”[/box]
[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]Dan Hoy – Club100 Clubman Heavies champion: “Even at the arrive and drive level, you have to be mentally strong. I’ve discovered that I’m able to read situations well and react quickl y to incidents in front. If you have the right mental approach to the racing, the racecraft naturally improves which then increases your speed. But you have to be hard on yourself. When I was younger I drove in the British Championships and drivers did walk the track but I prefer to learn the limits inside the kart.”[/box]
[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]Jordon Lennox-Lamb, CRG factory driver: “Have trust in your kart. Give yourself time to think when you drive, don’t just race round as hard as you can as that will create mistakes.”[/box]
[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]Oliver Hodgson – 2013 Rotax Max world champion:  “There are lots of tiny factors which can make a difference, but making the effort to ensure you’re prepared throughout a weekend is key. You should want to be the fittest driver on the track as that makes it easier for you to continue to concentrate further as the race goes on. You should also have the determination to succeed and want to put the effort in to make yourself better. You can never do a perfect job. If you put more effort in than your competitors, you’ve got a good chance.” [/box]
[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]Lee Harpham – Former British 250 and European Superkart champion: “You need to be as smooth as possible and have good exit speeds. It’s crucial to have good corner speed in 125 Superkarts as they have less horsepower than the 250 machines. Consistency throughout a race is crucial and if it’s my first time at a track I’ll walk it to look for undulations and bumps. Sharing data within the team helps to create the ideal lap and pinpoints areas to improve.”[/box]
[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]Jack Harding – Club100 Clubman Lights champion: “In our Sprint series format, you have to get through the pack during the heats as quickly as you can. To do that you need clean passing moves, but it’s quite tactical as to qualify higher up the grid, you need quick lap times. If I’m struggling in one qualifying heat or the first final, I’ll drop off the driver in front to give me clean air so I can go for pole position for the second final. Although we don’t use data, some drivers at our level do use helmet cameras to monitor their performances.”[/box]
[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]George Russell, double European champion: “Always steer smoothly, concentrate on your exit speed. Never give up, keep practicing and pushing. One day it’ll all come together.”[/box]
[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]Charlie Eastwood – British, European and World Rotax champion: “The number one secret in my opinion which covers all sections of motorsport, is laps. You need to be in a kart as much as possible. You’re not going to get any worse by getting seat time. That’s the way you gather speed and consistency. Then you have to keep your head and handle the pressure. I didn’t win the Worlds on outright speed. You need to know when to push those in front of you, and you preferably don’t want many of them. I was always the last to get to the grid and put my helmet on. I didn’t want to sit in the kart overthinking the race and looking for the perfect lap. That’s not going to happen.”[/box]
[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]Tom Joyner – 2013 CIK-FIA World KF champion: “You have to focus on yourself, not what any other drivers around you are doing. Forget what setups they maybe on and which engines they’re running. I spend a lot of attention on data now compared to when I was younger, it’s very important. Familiarising yourself by walking the track along with your engineer and team boss can help to discuss certain areas in which to attack.”[/box]
[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]Mark Litchfield – Former British champion: “You’ve got to have big balls! It’s not all about being quick, it’s more a focus on consistency and experience. The more seat time you have and the more laps you’re able to get, the faster you’ll go. Having someone to point you in the right direction is also key. You may have habits which you didn’t know you had, and having someone there to tell you where you’re going wrong can be the difference between a podium finish and becoming the champion.”[/box]
[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]Ben Barnicoat – Former British and European champion: “You’ve got to have the natural ability to go fast. But once you’ve found that you do have that ability on track, you’ve then go to be clever and be able to use tactics. You have to know when to pick the right time to pass, you don’t want to make a wrong move and then be fighting with others around you and possibly lose out.”[/box]
[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]Jake Hughes – Former Easykart driver and BRDC Formula 4 inaugural champion: “Preparing yourself correctly before you head out onto the track is critical. The training is massively important as it will improve your concentration later on throughout a race. External factors such as simulator work, if you’re fortunate enough to have it, can also add to your ability. I began my career relatively late and not having any previous family connections in motorsport, I find that I’ve benefited from the support of those around me, such as the engineers and driver coaches.”[/box]
[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]Gavin Bennett – Former European 250 Superkart champion: “In long circuit karting when you’re travelling at speeds of up to 150mph, you don’t want anything to come loose on the machine, so kart preparation is k ey. You need to have confidence in the reliability of the kart. When I had an injur y a few years ago, m y fitness hindered me through the season. It has onl y picked up since I’ v e been able to get back in the g ym. In long circuit racing, making clean ov ertaking moves is important, getting the timing right is crucial and slipstreaming helps to get you quicker to the person in front without hurting your tyres.”[/box]
[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]Sean Babington, British and European Rotax champion: “Listen to your team boss and mechanic as they watch you out on track and have a different perspective to help gain the upper hand on opponents around you.”[/box]

More great articles on

Your essential karting checklist

The best British karters ever

Terry Fullerton: 7 ways I’d improve karting

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Communicate to the edge

MSA British Cadet Championship and the FKS Championship for Mini Max and Junior Max.Karting can appear to be an individual sport from the outside – in some cases it can be – but for the majority of cases there is a form of team behind each driver. These teams come in all shapes and sizes from Mum and Dad to a professional race team, with this comes the ever increasing importance
of clear communication. With the amount of time, effort and money that goes into racing, stress levels are naturally high. Without strong communication, friction can be caused and a driver may not necessarily achieve their full potential.

Before approaching a karting event there are a number of factors that should be thought about:

The objective
There is one fundamentally important fact that
a driver and their team will often forget; they are
all there for the same thing, to achieve the best possible position that they can. Whether it’s the driver themselves, their mechanic, their team boss or their supporters, they are there to finish as high up the results sheet that they can. Arguing over
silly things wastes time, time that could be better spent moving forward. When things aren’t going the desired way, teams must work together. Just like anything in life their will be differences of opinions, but these must be discussed rather than argued. Each team member’s opinion should be respected and considered, with the one main objective in mind.

Language and understanding Karting from the outside can be incredibly difficult to understand simply because of the language. Anyone involved in karting will be able to relate to a Monday after a race weekend. When someone deprived of they joys of karting asks how their weekend of racing went, followed swiftly by the blank look as they are told about how they struggled with ‘bogging’ in the final, or how the driver wasn’t ‘jacking the kart up’ properly. The simple fact is that there a huge number of ways the people around the paddocks, across the country, will use different language to explain what they think the kart is doing. When a new team relationship is formed, a number of problems can occur a difference in language is used. Changes could be made to the kart that will make the kart worse if the setup decisions are made around a misunderstanding.

Teams must work hard to insure that everyone is on the same page with communicating, nobody should feel afraid of asking questions if they are unsure. Getting the most from team members Everyone responds differently to specific forms
of communication. The stress of karting has
already been spoken about, it should therefore be understood that people can become very sensitive and need encouragement. A shy driver for example may need gentle, positive encouragement, while another driver may need direct and strong instruction to motivate them. The important thing to remember is that everyone is different and can be different depending on a situation or their mood. Experience is the best tool in successful communication, team members should continually strive to improve as better results and more enjoyment will follow.

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Your Essential Karting Checklist

GETTING STARTED? Here’s your list of essentials plus the extra bits you’ll need…

Similar to most sports, karting has a list of regulations that the driver’s race wear must conform to, plus a large number of styles and trends set by the world’s leading kart racing icons.

Before buying any item of racewear it is important it confirms to the appropriate safety standards set for karting. The compulsory items you’ll need are:

Helmet – This is an item that the driver should not scrimp on and generally the more money spent, the better the quality. Expect to pay upwards of £300 for a good quality helmet. It is important to purchase one with a tight fit as the foam generally expands over time. The helmet must also be comfortable in terms of the weight, the driver must be able to handle the weight of it throughout a race distance, this is especially important in the younger drivers. Bell, Arai and Stilo are currently popular brands.

Race suit – Drivers will often purchase either the kart manufacturers suit or if they are racing with a team, their suit. It is more of a preference thing, in terms of following the fashion of the sport. There are a large number of suits in the market, with all kinds of different styles. It is important for the driver to try on a number of suits, walk around in them and bend each of their limbs. Sometimes drivers will have different suits for summer and winter in order to either cool down or keep warm. Expect to pay around £150-250

Gloves – Gloves must ultimately be comfortable for the driver to wear throughout the race meeting. It is important to find a glove that correctly supports the palm of the driver’s hands and their fingers; if this is overlooked they can cause extremely painful blisters. Similar to the suits the driver can choose to have thinner gloves for summer and thicker ones in the winter if their budget is sufficient. They generally cost around £50-100

Boots – When purchasing boots, the driver must look for a comfortable pair that supports their ankle. Remember that generally the driver will spend their entire weekend in these boots, so they can’t afford for them to cause discomfort. Due to the fact that they are normally in use all weekend, they do tend to wear more than the other race wear items, unfortunately they are not priced any cheaper for this, expect to pay around £75 for a pair of race boots.

There are a large number of other items that drivers can choose to buy for comfort reasons, they include:

Neck Brace – there are two types of neck brace which include a foam version which is generally cheaper and the helmet generally just sits on top of it, the other is a more solid construction similar to those used in motocross. The foam versions are around £45 with the Leatt neck braces costing around £300. Both provide comfort to the driver in different ways, they are popular among younger drivers due to their weaker necks.

Rib Protectors – Due to the fast and bumpy nature of most tracks and the little protection to the body provided by the seat, most drivers opt to buy themselves a rib protector. Anyone who has bruised or cracked a rib will tell you just how little fun the six weeks rest period is incredibly dull and uncomfortable. There are again foam versions and more solid types, most drivers choose to spend more money on purchasing the solid types due to a higher level of protection. Expect to pay around £100 for the better rib protectors.

Wetsuits – Unfortunately getting wet comes hand in hand with racing in the UK, even in the height of summer, a driver can find themselves looking at a huge amount of spray coming off the kart in front of them. There are very few drivers who will tell you they like wearing a wetsuit, they are awkward, hot and heavy. However they provide protection from getting soaking wet and freezing cold so they are fundamental part to any driver’s race kit. Expect to buy a couple in a year’s racing due to the fact they split and then don’t ultimately do their job, the clear ones are more comfortable because they are light but they split easier than non-plastic ones. Expect to pay around £40 for a wetsuit.

Knee and elbow pads – Due to the vigorous nature of the sport, bumps and bruises will occur just from simply putting in a few hot laps. Over time the body will tend to become used to it if the driver is racing often enough, however for the drivers who aren’t protective pads can be bought. They are generally priced at around £30-£40.

On top of the race wear, there are a large number of items that an owner-driver will want to purchase, these include:

Transport – Most importantly a driver will need some form of transport to get the kart and everything else involved to the circuit. There are a rather large number of methods of doing this, with very few ideas not having been tried. It is largely budget restricted, but a good trailer towed by the family car, or a van will suffice. As long as it is large enough to carry everything required in a safe manner in which nothing can be damaged, it is good enough.

Kart Trolley – A good sturdy kart trolley is required to work on the kart and transport it from the pit space to the circuit. There are a large number of varieties but the popular option tends to be a four wheeled trolley, two castor wheels and two larger inflatable wheels, with a tray for the toolbox and spare tyres. This will come in handy in changeable conditions when waiting on the dummy grid. Expect to replace the inflatable trolley wheels as they tend to either burst or get a puncture on the rougher paddocks. Budget for £200 but it’s well worth spending as anyone who has endured a weekend with a poor handling trolley will tell you.

Tools – There is an endless number of tools that can be purchased to make the mechanics job easier, a good range of spanners, screwdrivers and sockets will suffice to start with. It is a good idea to speak other drivers/ teams/manufacturers competing within the same class to find out about special tools that may be available, such as the rotax clutch stop. Tools vary in price massively but generally the more money spent the better the quality, with a number of them giving a life time when bought.

Data loggers – Lots of data can be taken from a kart which can be great in helping to set the kart up and maximise the performance from the driver, it also allows the driver to keep an eye on engine temperature and their lap times. The mychron system is the most popular, with a large number of add-ons that can be purchased to go with it, however the alfano and PI systems are relatively popular. It is important for the driver to decide what they feel they would benefit from and then choose one to suit. Expect to pay around £200.

Awning – With the forever varying weather in the UK, a driver may need to protect themselves from the sunshine or the rain. Pop-up gazebos are available from most kart shops but can also be bought in outdoor shops, it is worth spending a little more on buying a sturdier awning as the wind and rain can often cause large amounts of damage. Expect to pay around £200-£300

Generator/compressor – A compressor and an appropriate generator to power it will need to be purchased in order to pump air into the tyres, there a huge number of brands for both with the better brands costing a larger amount.

I’m afraid to say, this list will grow! Whenever possible talk to the people in the know, understanding that most business types within the karting world have a motive. Huge budget drivers can spend their money as they please but the drivers with a smaller budget must be smarter with how they spend it and as long as you do your research you’ll find value for money.

Check out the following reliable mail-order karting companies: / / /

[box type=”success” align=”aligncenter” ]This article was first published in Karting magazine. Subscribe to Karting magazine here and get three issues for just £1.[/box]