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Cadet Column

The MSA often get blamed for karting’s wrongs but they have also made some great decisions in recent years. The Comer/IAME switch is one of them.

As many politicians will confirm, life in opposition is usually much simpler than actually wielding power. Finding fault with a particular policy is easier than actually formulating one. I’ve been known to criticise the MSA for making daft decisions, or sometimes producing none at all, but there have been occasions when our friends at Motor Sport House deserve praise. One notable example was their rather courageous decision to replace Comers with IAME Gazelle as the motor of choice for cadets

It’s easy to forget how much opposition there was for such a move. Many people in the sport predicted that it would be disastrous. “We’re all going to stick with our Comer engines and the IAME Class will die a death just like Super Cadet did,” claimed one irate dad. In actual fact he was an early IAME customer and immediately admitted that his assessment had been wrong.

As IAME importers, JM Racing benefitted from this decision. They organised the Little Green Man Championships that originally used WTP power. After production of WTP motors ceased, the Championships declined, with entries down to 25 or less at some rounds. The introduction of IAME motors breathed a new lease of life and last year over 50 participants turned up at most rounds. Figures have increased in 2014 with 90 drivers registering and 68 of them entering the opening round at PF. It meant that the “B” Final ran with 36 drivers, an all-time record for cadets.

Insofar as the ultimate LGM Champion will have beaten many more opponents, you could argue that this Series is harder to win than S1. In reality, however, there’s a hard core of front runners common to both Championships. What would be a fair assertion to make is that the LGM format of three Heats and a final produces potentially more banana skins than Timed Qualifying where the quick lads are in their comfort zone.

Each competition demands different skills from participants, but the end results are remarkably similar. Oliver York won last year’s S1 Championships in both IAME and Comer classes with Alex Quinn runner up each time. Alex claimed the LGM crown with Oliver in 2nd place. Roddy Taylor, York’s mechanic and mentor, always claimed that the LGM would be the more difficult competition to win. I’d like to bet, though, that his driver wouldn’t swap titles with Quinn under any circumstances. The British Championships may have been devalued in recent years (see p22) but it’s still a fairly potent attraction for cadets.

At this stage in proceedings last year I’d have put money on either Oliver or Alex emerging as champions in the IAME class. This time it’s a different story. In my opinion we now have nine drivers who are sufficiently quick and consistent to become champions, with perhaps another three or four capable of winning individual rounds. My nine title favourites, in alphabetical order, are; Jonny Edgar, Kiern Jewiss, Alex McDade, Dexter Patterson, Zac Robertson, Lewis Thompson, Joe Turney, Teddy Wilson and Tom Wood. I also think that Owen Byatt, Albert Carter, Ethan Hawkey and Fin Kenneally could surprise everyone by winning a round.

As an unreconstructed traditionalist I much prefer the LGM format rather than running Timed Qualifying for cadets. Not everyone agrees with me on this and I had an interesting conversation with Gerard Cox from Project One. He and I tend to agree on most karting aspects, but we’re at opposite ends of the argument on this one. Gerard issued a challenge for me. “Timed Qualifying is generally safer, but you have a perfect opportunity to test the theory,” he pointed out. “Many of the LGM rounds take place on the same circuits as S1, so you can count up how many 1st bend collisions there are. If at the end of this year you can truthfully say that there has been no real difference, then I’ll hold my hands up and admit to being wrong.”

Gerard, mate, you’re on!