Category Archives: Rotax Max Column

George Robinson’s Rotax insight and technical tips from Karting magazine

The Max Column: December 2012

By: George Robinson

Standfirst: The season is all but over with the conclusion to the National Championships successfully completed and only their prize presentations left to attend. At club level the battles are set to continue up until mid-December in some cases.

 

In the mean time it’s showtime! Kartmania is due to happen any minute now. This year’s event is due to be bigger and better than before with some new and returnee exhibitors as well as a swanky new venue at Silverstone.

 

JAG Engineering is delighted to be headline sponsors of the event. Martin Capenhurst has been working exceptionally hard to make a success of the show, so please come along and see the latest and the best in our sport on the 17th and 18th November.

 

Immediately after the show there is the Rotax World Finals, which is being held in Portimao, Portugal over the last weekend in November. Once again we have a strong contingent of drivers, our numbers swollen by the success of the Brits at the Euro Max Challenge. Lets hope that we can carry this success through to bring home the World titles as well.

 

We have been visiting as many Club race meetings as time permits and can report that despite rumour to the contrary numbers are holding up well. Constant media coverage of double dip recession and economic gloom do nothing to help. Accentuate the positive and minimize the negative is an old adage but more perhaps appropriate today than ever before.

 

At Dunkswell’s final round there were just about 100 entries, 48 of which were Rotax but more importantly 34 were Cadets. The vast majority of these were Hondas. This is a common trend we must all make the effort to keep these young drivers interest in the sport alive. They are our future.

 

From a Rotax Max standpoint the market in this country is enjoying great stability. There are no major changes in the pipeline with the possible exception of the much-reported new crankcases. Yes there will be new cases coming out but there is no release date as yet and there is no official test data available either, everything that you may have heard is nothing more than rumour.

 

It is the time of year when a few people get caught out by an early frost and a cracked cylinder due to plain water being left in the engine. In the UK the use of coolant is allowed, that is why the radiator catch bottle is mandatory here and not in other countries. There are now coolants on the market that actually run cooler in hot conditions than water, so there should be no real need to have just plain water in the engine. Because engines are usually kept indoors even a low level of anti-frost protection should suffice. It is often the case that an engine in a van at a circuit is the most susceptible to damage.

 

If you are one of the sensible ones that lays your kart up for the winter months it is a good idea to take it off the kart clean it until it sparkles and then spray it with a WD type product that is a light lubricant but more importantly a moisture inhibitor. Also leave clean coolant in the radiator. This will protect the engine’s aluminium on the inside. All modern coolants are alloy friendly. If possible keep the engine in a relatively warm but definitely dry environment. The same goes for the Carburettor. A Carb. can never be too clean! If in doubt give it to your local friendly service centre to service, a liberal spray with WD and then put it in a self-seal plastic bag. It will be ready and waiting for you if and when the sun comes out in March!

 

Another good end of season check is the wiring loom. Often overlooked and occasionally the source of anguish! The loom can easily become damaged if it is allowed to chafe or indeed make contact with the ground. An intermittent misfire is the most likely product of a damaged loom. More serious is a dead short that could burn out the wiring, ignition coil or battery. The loom is not a hugely expensive item but why need a new one when a bit of care would stop the problem before it happens. A bit of a health check for the rest of the electrical components ids not a bad idea at the same time. The battery should be kept charged to avoid a low voltage cell failure. It is vitally important that the correct charger is used for the job. The standard battery is a sealed lead acid type and this is the type of charger that should be used. The Rotax supplied charger does a very good job without jeopardising the battery. It is also suitable for the new lightweight battery supplied by Rotax, which is Lithium Phosphate. Any Lithium battery must be charged with an appropriate charger. There are many proprietary brands of charger on the market just be sure that yours is compatible with the battery. The lithium batteries are reliable if correctly treated but they are more susceptible to damage from incorrect charging.

 

Exhaust systems; both types, welded silencer and the latest “springs over” types are to remain legal for next year at least. Eventually it may be necessary to outlaw the old type, but only when it has been out of production for many years. From January it will be permitted to install the extra steel isolation mat. This comes with very specific instructions and must be used in conjunction with the full sheet of the existing wadding. The steel mat definitely improves the life of the wadding and probably the baffle tube as well. There is no performance loss and improved exhaust reliability. A win-win situation for very little outlay. When refitting the baffle tube always use high tensile bolts with “Nyloc” nuts. Most service centres will stock these, little button head M4 bolts are the neatest, but you may need to go to M5 if the holes in the silencer are too big. The original rivets are steel and last a long time. Most pop rivets are alloy and will fail in no time at all.

 

Kartmania is the next thing on the agenda. Please come along to see us, or for a bit of sport you could heckle at one of the Rotax seminars.

The Max Column: November 2012

By: George Robinson

 

The season is drawing to a close with the final round of Formula Kart Stars having been staged at Whilton Mill in September. It seems that the FKS series is due to close as the Formula One Management team have exciting new plans for the future.
he Super One organisation meanwhile have a healthy appetite for running championships and are the newly appointed promoter for the 2013 Cadet class as well as the other MSA categories. Rotax Super One will remain the same for 2013 with the possible inclusion of the National Comer Cadet Championships. The recent PFi Super One round provided a wonderful contrast to the Lincolnshire Kart Racing Club’s monthly event taking place at Fulbeck just across the fields. Typically, the PFi circuit and Trent Valley KC offered a warm and professional welcome to the Rotax and Honda Super One. Fulbeck meanwhile was running a lower key event perfectly happily and every bit as important to those indispensable individuals, the karting customers. I took an hour out of my time at PFi to go across to Fulbeck to have a look around.

The meeting was in full swing with a good number of gearbox karts as well as a well-supported grid of Cadets. The most numerous were the Rotax classes with Mini, Junior and Senior all well supported. The vast majority of these competitors are happy where they are and budget for just that one meeting per month with a hope of some glory in their club championship. It is their leisure pursuit and it is this very group that forms the backbone of the sport. It is most important that dealers and Rotax Approved Service Centres recognise the need to nurture the grass roots of the sport and help these people to continue. This is not purely a financial thing, it is about support on the ground at the club race meetings where the average competitor may not have the knowledge or experience to be able to help themselves.

Karting is no different to any other sport in terms of cost. There should always be a way to participate inexpensively. This area is increasingly the domain of the non-MSA clubs. While condoning the unofficial racing is not an ideal standpoint, ever-increasing costs are putting the smaller clubs under pressure. These days, kart clubs have a good level of insurance cover in order to run their practice days. It takes a very small stretch of the imagination to see them bowing to the pressure from their membership to run the odd race,”just for fun”. Soon, fully-fledged race meetings are taking place and everyone is having fun. This type of event takes karting back to its formative years and in many ways is exactly what the participant wants. It only starts to go wrong when its gets too competitive and begins to become a victim of its own success. Then it has to be time for those more successful racers to go legit and take up MSA racing. Perhaps the most important element to recognise is that leisure or non-MSA racing has brought these people on board and got them hooked without the red tape and expense of official MSA racing.

Times have changed and to be sure of a sound future for the sport those in positions of responsibility will have to change too. I have always believed that there should be a staircase of classes that leads to the ultimate in speed and professionalism with those machines that attract the very best drivers in the world. Unfortunately the KF categories have priced themselves out of the market, allowing the ultra-reliable Rotax Max to take over the mantle. It is true to say that some of the best racing in the karting world today is Rotax powered and it has some of the very best drivers. It really was never intended to happen like this. The Max range of engines was introduced in a period when Rotax were still producing some of the best 100cc engines.
It is only now that there has become a critical need for price control to keep the sport from imploding. It is unsustainable for a few well-heeled competitors to dictate an inflated value for all-comers. I genuinely believe that an elite class above Rotax Max would be good for the sport and good for the future of the Rotax classes as well. At present no such class exists. In all successful markets in the world, Rotax engines are sealed for racing. I know the debate has been long and hard but the proof is in the success of the product, its reliability, its warranty and the product records that are only possible with the security of the seal in place. JAG Engineering has a full time member of staff who spends most of their time keeping the sealing records up to date. Recently there have been an unfortunate number of accusations of cheating and indeed some Service Centres have been interviewed on the subject. While this is not a satisfactory state of affairs, without the benefit of the technical fiche and the engine seal the irresponsible Service Centre could wreak havoc and never be brought to book. The most important element of all these controls is to ensure the highest level of fair play by the Service Centres for the benefit of the customers.

There is no Service Centre that is indispensable. There need never be a shadow of doubt that the customer must always come first. That is not to say that the customer is always right. Good communication nearly always wins the day and both parties can get on with their business relationship. Karting, being the small world that it is, will always have gossip. In order for it to sound exciting enough, it is usually embellished. The longer the thread of gossip, the taller the stories become. Just beware of the pit lane intrigue and try to remember to enjoy your kart racing at whatever level you have chosen.

The Max Column: October 2012

By: George Robinson

 

The year 2012 is indeed proving to be extraordinary. We British have never been very good at shouting our abilities from the rooftops. We seem to be happy as underdog islanders, where in fact we should be proud of our achievents.
e are in the throes of a recessive period so close to depression that the politicians are frightened to use those words in a joined-up sentence. In spite of all this woe we have managed to promote an amazing set of Jubilee celebrations, probably the most spectacular Olympic Games ever and, at the time of writing, we are now about to embark on the Paralympics; which are some of the most thought-provoking and mentally-restorative applications of sport over adversity. While all the above has been taking place, karting has been surviving recession and in many ways is better for it.

There are certainly some clubs that would appear to be down on entries, but when their situations are more closely scrutinised we find that they are just as busy but in different ways. Arrive & Drive and leisure karting is flourishing. National Championships are well supported in the Rotax classes and are attracting some of the best drivers. The racing is as close as ever and the cream is now rising to the top in time for selection to race at the Grand Finals at Portimao in Portugal at the end of November. Last year the British team of drivers were all very competitive, proving once again that the UK produces the best in the World. This competitive spirit does come at a price however, and not necessarily a financial one. To compete at the highest level in Rotax is now a fight between a selection of the most professional teams and engine builders in the world of Rotax today.

There is accusation and counter-accusation humming round the pits constantly. Some may be justified, most of it is there to destabilise the opposition. This year we are planning to visit all our
most important service centres as well as club races throughout the country. It is all too easy to focus on the major events when they only represent a small percentage of the drivers competing across the country on a weekly basis. There are little known clubs racing successfully outside the MSA these days. These circuits are often those that run corporate or leisure karting events and so are skilled at delivering a fun experience. Unfortunately this can only fulfil a fairly basic type of competition. When the racing becomes seriously competitive it must have regulation and management at an equally high level. I can imagine the clash between an assertive team manager and a leisure circuit owner. Probably punctuated by police sirens! At the base level of leisure karting the aspirations of the participant are low, they want their expenditure to be low as well and will not buy new equipment. These are the Rotax owners that are firmly in the secondhand market. There is an outlet for the well-used outfit that may need some fettling. It is important that these new enthusiasts are nurtured. Among them may be a son or grandson who has a future in the sport. All service centres and members of the trade would do well to serve these people fairly and with as much free help and advice as required. It is all too easy for the bigger organisations to focus purely on the pinnacle of the sport. I heard a major name explaining at the weekend that he is only interested in the drivers with talent and budget.

Maybe, but where are they to come from in the first place?These days it will almost certainly be a first encounter with a leisure kart of some description. While I believe there should be an ideal time to progress to racing cars, if you are of that persuasion, there is nothing that karting can do to hold onto these determined emigrants. Yes we need to make our product more attractive and the MSA should have a hand in that. Recognition that the most basic level of leisure motorsport is karting, but that at its highest level karting is as competitive as any four-wheeled sport in the world. Recognition on a massive scale required, but who in governance is there to recognise it? A few words on the technical front. There is rumour that Rotax have produced replacement crankcases for the Max and that they are faster or slower. I have not heard any rumour that suggests that they are the same. Yes, Rotax are to produce new cases in the not too distant future. The reason being is that the old tooling is worn and there will be an unacceptable loss in wastage if the tooling is not replaced. Unfortunately the rumour mill is ahead of itself because no tests have been completed as yet, so it has to be pure speculation that the product is better or worse! The new crankcases are not being produced to alter performance. Another fashion at present is to widen the spark plug gap.

Yes the gap should be correct and some plugs do come through with incorrect settings, but too wide a gap can create strange misfires that come and go with variations in engine temperature. As a guide, set the gap as suggested by the plug manufacturer, as a general rule 0.7mm is standard. Do not be tempted to go more than 0.2mm either side of that. Fuel is another subject often overlooked. The Max engines all run most efficiently on 95 octane pump fuel. The Max is a low compression engine and does not benefit from higher octane or some of the ingredients therein. Jetting can become more difficult with high-octane fuel so the net result is that you spend more time outside the ideal parameters and therefore go slower! Buy your fuel from a major brand, high-usage site, filter it well and you will have no difficulties.

The Max Column: September 2012

By: George Robinson

At last, a reaction! Last month’s column regarding tyres has proved that I have at least three readers, and I thought all these years it was just the two of you.
wo agreed with my views on the set of bad tyres theory and the third was so new to the sport that the technology is frightening him to death. I have also heard that a couple of front running drivers must be cheating as they could not possibly be that good. Maybe they have found a way of selecting a good set of tyres? Of course I know how to do this and would like to invite you to put your cheques in the post. There are so many elements that make up a winning combination of kart, engine, set-up (this includes tyres by the way) and driver. I well remember following a fairly well known driver for a few laps at Clay Pigeon, when back in the pits I offered to help him straighten his chassis. He had not a clue that it was bent and would not consider a simple straightening operation. Famous maybe…idiot certainly! So we have the new shiny kart whatever the colour, the chances are that the factory recommended set-up would be very close to competitive. So many people differ too far from basic and finish up too far away to be anything better than completely lost. There is not such big differences in engines either, yes you need it all to be in good condition, the exhaust wadding and baffle must be sound, no cracks in the pipe etc. The carburettor needs to be working properly, many people overlook this, and cleanliness is next to godliness they say. Karters are not that close, they are always out racing on a Sunday! So we have the machine in good order, what percentage of the package is the driver? How much was the driver losing that did not know that his kart was bent? Can the driver rely entirely on his team to ensure that everything is as close to perfect as possible to make up for his inadequacy? Definitely not is my view. Getting better at it is the only answer.
If the team is dedicated, competitive, hard working and knowledgeable and so is the driver, look out this guy will be hard to beat. Who am I talking about? Well I guess there are a few but specifically Kyle Fowlie and Sean Babington, I rest my case. As soon as anyone has a decent advantage”Cheat” is shouted from the lorry roves. Well I doubt it, I have watched a lot of karting over the years and, in my humble opinion, these guys are just really well sorted at the moment. Both of these guys had exceptional races recently on a drying track. Their kart control was superior to the extent of having a decent level of extra grip. Parc Ferme tyres… must have been a good set!! Over the years there have always been the times of an exceptional driver, Mike Simpson (The blond one) in Rotax Max was exceptional, he too, like Babington was very smooth, very easy on the throttle and hardly moved the steering wheel. These guys will not wring the thing by the neck to get a good lap time. Add to that that they have the experience to feed back concise information to their pit crew and the whole thing becomes that much easier. Babington had a very good run in the World Finals last year, he made only one error in a heat that dropped him from pole and that might have cost him the title. I say might because, although I have a lot of respect for him, there were two others in the race, David Sera and Ben Cooper, who have all the quality too. Sera was a particularly tough customer, big in the kart and I suspect a bit heavy, but fast and hard and fit. If I put my money on Cooper to win then it was evens on Sera and each way on Babington. Of course this is only one opinion, but I do put Sean Babington in the top drawer of UK drivers at present.

I do not appreciate the low blows labelling him or his team as cheats when there is not one MAX column shred of evidence to support it. For those who do not know, the World Finals are contested on loaned equipment, which you receive by lottery on arrival. Last year in Al Ain the senior Karts were Sodi. Not a brand favoured at home by any of the British contingent. The karts did a good job and provided some very close racing. Funny how all the good guys seemed to be at the front of the Final. There will come the day when another talented driver has a purple patch and the establishment is rocked, the incumbent champion has to raise his game or bow to the pressure. Is that not what racing is about. It is a gladiatorial sport. The wingers are not remembered for their fine wins. The scrutineers are doing a fine job, often in difficult circumstances. I believe it is true to say they are at the very least respected if not feared. I take my hat off to them for their level of knowledge across a wide range of classes. The Rotax classes are currently some of the biggest so it stands to reason that the scrutineers need to have a greater in-depth knowledge of these engines than some others that they may seldom see.

We are dedicated to the future of Rotax Max racing and, to ensure that, it is most important that the regulations are respected and upheld in the best possible way for the competitor. In my view this should include time penalties, exclusion from the race, confiscation of illegal components. I do believe however that exclusion from the meeting should be the final and most severe penalty. It can ruin at a stroke someone’s championship hopes. This is a customer lost, a lousy advert and completely negative. There must be a better and more intelligent way of dealing with some of the more serious crimes.

The Max Column: August 2012

By: George Robinson

 

Tyres are always an emotive subject and will probably fill most of this column this month.
ow in the second year of Rotax Mojo tyres we are able to tackle the various issues with a degree of confidence that perhaps was a little more difficult beforehand. Tyres can make the best driver in the world look hopeless or, on the other hand, flatter the not so good to the point where he or she at least thinks they have finally learnt to drive a go-kart rather well! Yes, the tyres are the single most important element of the package that builds to make a winner. It is now clear from Formula 1 right through the ranks to karts that these circular black things on the corners are as unpredictable as the most alluring Italian mistress. Fortunately the Mojo is refreshingly German and as a general rule is doing a very good job of being consistent. It is a fact of life in modern karting that the tyres will often get the blame for shortcomings in the set-up, gearing or jetting that might actually be the root of the elusive couple of tenths that are so vital now that the classes are so competitive at the front. There are not many drivers these days that can feedback effectively, as more and more rely on the advice of their’Guru’ who is watching from the sidelines. Drivers are not expected to develop as roundly as they once were; it is rare these days to see a driver getting stuck in to the preparation of their equipment. What makes drivers so special? Do they not realise that they could so easily glean an advantage by a better understanding of their machine? Tyres are so easily abused that a few home truths are required. Now that the Mojo brand has traceability by barcode, every tyre can be identified in its case as well as individually.

Furthermore, the tyres can be tracked right back through manufacture, packing, storage and shipment. With over 300,000 Mojo tyres produced last year, how difficult it must be to be so unfortunate as to receive a “bad” set. Perhaps I should sell my services to the highest bidder so I can select him a “good” set? Yes that sounds ridiculous, but it must be equally possible based on the same pool of tyres, in their cartons, all manufactured within the same production period. A much more reasonable explanation is that the bad set of tyres only become bad when they are brought together as a set. So here is the scenario. The majority of club drivers buy their tyres from one of the big supermarket-type suppliers along with a few essentials like a new chain and a bottle of oil. The tyres arrive while the house is locked up and the thoughtful delivery driver leaves a note saying ‘Parcel round the back’/In the greenhouse/Next door’or whatever. You arrive home and are pleased to find that all is ready and waiting for the trip to the track the next day. While the box is sitting outside, the sun is beating down and the temperature inside the box rises to 40°C.

Having got home, had a beer, watched the TV, had a row with the Missus and gone to bed, the carton is forgotten in the back garden. In the night it rains hard enough to drown a cat so in the morning the carton is a sodden mass. Not to worry you think; there was no room for it in the trailer in any case. The tyres and other items are rescued and off to Forest Park International you go. The first thing to do is get those tyres on the rims ready for a short run to bed them in for Sunday. 7.45am and much to the annoyance of the overnight campers you fire up the compressor. By the time the tank is full you have managed to force the new tyres onto the rims, pity you forgot the tyre soap that is sitting on the garage shelf. Never mind, a bit of extra air will teach them a lesson and they will soon be out on the beads. Now time for a cup of coffee while you chat to a mate about what pressure to let the tyres down to. Chilly morning he says, better go high, say about 18 and 20. I guess this could be a quiz. How many of the six good reasons above did you get that could easily have caused you to achieve the impossible and have a bad set of tyres? Rather than send your answers on a postcard, here are some ideas. 1. Tyres do not like extremes of temperature. 2. Tyres are hydroscopic, so the rain in the night will have been absorbed into the tread and carcass. 3. The cold, moisture-laden air from the compressor will also force its way into the carcass. 4. Lack of lubricant on the bead and/or rim will lead to excessive pressure being required to seat the tyres onto the bead, this excessive pressure can irreparably damage the textile weave in the carcass.

The carcass is a vital element in the design of the tyre; it controls the way in which the sidewalls work to keep the tyre tread in efficient contact with the track surface. 5. Leaving excessive pressure in the tyres after inflation can also damage the carcass as well as damaging the bond between carcass and tread. 6. This is perhaps the most obvious. Running on over-inflated tyres will overheat the tread very quickly and may super-cure it beyond recovery. Just suppose you were able to avoid all the above, I would not mind betting that you are more than likely to have found a really good set of tyres. These basic rules apply to all tyres including wets. Wets you may say, surely they are designed to get wet! Yes, but not from the inside, and the more you can restrict them remaining or being stored wet the better they will be. Most people expect their wets to be slightly slower after their first meeting, but the same applies to most of the competition so the competitive edge is dulled. Look after them, for me there was never a better feeling than being dominant in the rain (on a kart of course).

The Max Column: July 2012

By: George Robinson

 

The Rotax Driver Academy was first considered at the Rotax World Distributors Meeting in November last year.
ince I have been running training and Rotax awareness days for many years, it was no shock that BRP-Rotax were keen for us to expand that into a more professional and generally available product. Following the recent sale of my engineering business, I now have a little more time to concentrate on my karting activities and in particular the work that I have been doing for JAG, the UK distributors for Rotax kart products. The idea behind the Driver Academy is to offer anything from a toes in the water experience for the total beginner to a full programme of high quality coaching up to World Championship level. While I will be heading up the general training days we are also able to offer the services of Paul Granger from Race Data and top level instruction from Terry Fullerton. While so many people look for the magic engine and spend a fortune trying to find it, others will blame their tyres or chassis, it is the driver who can offer the greatest gain for the least investment. How much are people prepared to pay for a tenth of a second? An impossible question to answer, most are too embarrassed to admit the truth.

There are many a magic engine out there that once in new hands never win another race. The magic element disappeared when the previous gifted, experienced or just good driver sold it! Speed is only part of the story; racecraft is a vital element to success in any wheel-to-wheel motorsport and there is no secret that karting is where to learn it best. From an instructional point of view it may seem difficult to train racecraft, however this can cut across in to the psychological side of driver preparation. The driver’s ability to feed back relevant information is another important area of expertise that can greatly enhance their potential as a successful competitor. Has it ever occurred to you why the very best at any given discipline make it look so easy? They have studied their sport and dedicated themselves to it, in some cases at the exclusion of all else. Talent is not necessarily the most important ingredient; attitude (if possible with a bit of talent thrown in) has a much greater chance of success. I have seen some super talented drivers over the years who had not a clue about their potential and were happier playing with their toy cars in the pits than racing a kart. Recently I was at the Glan-Y-Gors Super One round.

A couple of young drivers impressed me with their calm approach and the fact that they both spent a lot of time watching other races. These guys were there for the racing and to enjoy their success. One I had noticed on Friday went on to win both his Finals spectacularly. Good attitude and a dose of natural talent to help him on his way. There are many facets to the Rotax Driver Academy; the main idea is to help all levels to achieve their goals within the sport while enjoying the experience. Costs do not need to be excessive, yes any sport can be expensive when taken to extremes. In spite of everything you may read or hear, it does not have to be. I do not know how many times I have heard;”you can go car racing for less”. Are you sure you are comparing like for like? I seriously doubt it. For me, to equal the exhilaration of driving a decent kart, you have to look at a slicks and wings formula car. Yes there are entry-level classes where the kids are trying to tear the wing mirrors off secondhand sports cars. The snag is that my Skoda estate is faster! There is the argument that as long as you are racing and so long as everyone has the same it’s still good, even if it’s a bathtub. Ok then, is it the fun factor? Would you race one? Definitely yes, would you drive one for fun, probably not! May I rest my case! The majority of training days involve the MAX colunan drivers using their own equipment, there is always the opportunity to do a general improvement programme to include chassis set up, tyre pressures, gearing and some valuable on-circuit work with the nut behind the wheel. In many cases, where the sport is new to people, they have bought a kart and have not a clue that it doesn’t steer properly, the gearing is wrong and the engine needs a different jet. For these people a little help goes a long way to making their karting experience a fun thing to do. If their initial experience is good they are much more likely to stay with it and become regular participants. Good for the sport, good for the trade and good for the future.

A real win-win situation. There are plenty of opportunities to decide where to go and what to do when already in the game but there is so much bullshit fed to the beginner that a decent sized shovel could not cope with the volume. JAG Engineering has no vested interest in the individual participant who might sign up to a day or two with the Driver Academy. It is more about ensuring that those people get the best out of their Rotax product. While our base is at Bayford Meadows in Kent, any circuit can be arranged. Usually it is better to find a venue where there is not likely to be too many people on the track at the same time. Sessions are fine as the time in the pits can be spent just as valuably as time on the circuit. BRP-Rotax are determined to make the Driver Academies a world product. Here in the UK it is to be managed by JAG. Any enquiries may be sent either to them at info@jag-rotax.co.uk or to me at george@george-robinson.co.uk. We have already been running some days and have good racing equipment on hand for those that have not yet taken the final leap into ownership!

The MAX Column

Stock-Rotax-LogoThe Rotax Driver Academy was first considered at the Rotax World Distributors meeting in November last year. Since I have been running training and Rotax awareness days for many years it was no shock that BRP-Rotax were keen for us to expand that into a more professional and generally available product.

Following the recent sale of my engineering business, I now have a little more time to concentrate on my Karting activities and in particular the work that I have been doing for JAG the UK distributors for Rotax Kart Products.

The idea behind the Driver Academy is to offer anything from a toes in the water experience for the total beginner to a full programme of high quality coaching up to World Championship level. While I will be heading up the general training days we are also able to offer the services of Paul Granger from Racedata and top level instruction from Terry Fullerton.

While so many people will look for the magic engine and spend a fortune trying to find it, others will blame their tyres or chassis, it is the driver who can offer the greatest gain for the least investment. How much are people prepared to pay for a tenth of a second? An impossible question to answer, most are too embarrassed to admit the truth. There are many a magic engine out there that once in new hands never win another race. The magic element disappeared when the previous gifted, experienced or just good driver sold it!

Speed is only part of the story; race-craft is a vital element to success in any wheel-to-wheel Motorsport and there is no secret that karting is where to learn it best. From an instructional point of view it may seem difficult to train racecraft, however this can cut across in to the psychological side of driver preparation. The driverÕs ability to feed back relevant information is another important area of expertise that can greatly enhance their potential as a successful competitor. Has it ever occurred to you why the very best at any given discipline make it look so easy? They have studied their sport and dedicated themselves to it, in some cases at the exclusion of all else.

Talent is not necessarily the most important ingredient; attitude (if possible with a bit of talent thrown in) has a much greater chance of success. I have seen some super talented drivers over the years, who had not a clue about their potential and were happier playing with their toy cars in the pits than racing a kart. Recently I was at the Glan-Y-Gors Super One round. A couple of young drivers impressed me with their calm approach and the fact that they both spent a lot of time watching other races. These guys were there for the racing and to enjoy their success. One I had noticed on Friday went on to win both his Finals spectacularly. Good attitude and a dose of natural talent to help him on his way.

There are many facets to the Rotax Driver Academy; the main idea is to help all levels to achieve their goals within the sport while enjoying the experience. Costs do not need to be excessive, yes any sport can be expensive when taken to extremes, in spite of everything you may read, it does not have to be. I do not know how many times I have heard; Òyou can go car racing for lessÓ. Are you sure you are comparing like for like? I seriously doubt it. For me, to equal the exhilaration of driving a decent kart, you have to look at a slicks and wings formula car. Yes there are entry-level classes where the kids are trying to tear the wing mirrors off a similar second-hand sports car.

The snag is that my Skoda estate is faster! There is the argument that as long as you are racing and so long as every one has the same itÕs still good, even if itÕs a bathtub. Ok then, is it the fun factor? Would you race one? Definitely yes, would you drive one for fun, probably not! May I rest my case!

The majority of training days involve the drivers using their own equipment, there is always the opportunity to do a general improvement programme to include chassis set up, tyre pressures, gearing AND some valuable on circuit work with the nut behind the wheel.

In many cases, where the sport is new to people, they have bought a kart and have not a clue that it doesnÕt steer properly, the gearing is wrong and the engine needs a different jet. For these people a little help goes a long way to making their karting experience a fun thing to do. If their initial experience is good they are much more likely to stay with it and become regular participants. Good for the sport, good for the trade and good for the future. A real win-win situation.

There are plenty of opportunities to decide where to go and what to do when already in the game but there is so much bullshit fed to the beginner that a decent sized shovel could not cope with the volume.

JAG Engineering has no vested interest in the individual participant who might sign up to a day or two with the Driver Academy. It is more about ensuring that those people get the best out of their Rotax product. While our base is at Bayford Meadows in Kent, any circuit can be arranged. Usually it is better to find a venue where there is not likely to be too many people on the track at the same time. Sessions are fine as the time in the pits can be spent just as valuably as time on the circuit.

BRP Rotax are determined to make the Driver Academies a world product. Here in the UK it is to be managed by JAG. Any enquiries may be sent either to them at info@jag-rotax.co.uk or to me at george@george-robinson.co.uk . We have already been running some days and have good racing equipment on hand for those that have not yet taken the final leap into ownership!