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The Cadet Karting Column: March 2013

Written By: Dave Bewley

Tom Wood

“Have no fear, the MSA will never allow a new motor into cadets because there are just too many Comer owners out there. Even if they do, we’ll all be sticking with our old engines and the new one will die a death just like Super Cadets.” Just 12 months ago, quite a few pundits were making prophecies along those very lines. Many of them have since undergone a complete change of heart and now predict that the Comer class will be dead within a few months. I remember when WTPs were first introduced back in 2001 some experts loudly proclaimed that they would soon be used as expensive doorstops.10 years ago, when Comer’s W60 model was chosen to replace the S60, these predictions were revived with even more conviction. It didn’t happen, at least not for a good few years, but when WTP ceased production in September 2009 I also joined the Merchants of Doom, believing that this class would be lucky to survive the 2010 season. Naturally, I expected the Little Green Man Championships to fizzle out also. As I write this piece more than 70 drivers have registered for the 2013 series, albeit choosing IAME power rather than WTP. No doubt by the time this issue goes to print, registrations will have already reached the ceiling of 80. All this goes to prove the madness of making predictions in karting. Never let it be said, however, that I’ve allowed sanity to interfere with a good story. After looking into my rather grubby crystal ball I’m prepared to place a 50p bet on Comers surviving 2013 but fading into obscurity the following year. For the sake of all those raw beginners who have already bought Comer-powered karts thinking that they were getting a bargain, I sincerely hope to lose 50p and be proved wrong in 2014. One way that Comers could survive is by appealing to the lower end of the market. Martin Hines appeared to recognise this 18 months ago when answering a question from young Sam Kirkpatrick. “Whatever the MSA decides (with regard to choice of motor for the British Championships), there’s still going to be lots of Comer W60 engines around, so the class will definitely survive at club level,” Martin maintained. “We’d also organise our own championship series to make sure that interest is maintained.” Sadly, Martin passed away within a month or so of this interview taking place. He was obviously correct in stating that there are literally hundreds of Comers out there and so, at club level, you’d expect the class to remain very strong. However, even those competitors who have no intention of racing at British Championship level often look towards the top runners and copy their choice of equipment. We are already seeing strong signs that this is happening by the large number of Comer drivers who have already switched over to Parillas. When the MSA first announced that there would be a national championship for Comers, I didn’t expect Super One to be involved. Martin Hines himself had envisaged a Series organised by Zip karts, presumably along similar lines to the Little Green Man. No doubt a championship run under the auspices of S1 brings added prestige, but I’m not convinced that it’s the right one for Comers at this moment. New starters might choose Comers because there’ll be a good second hand supply at relatively low prices. Similarly some “old hands” will remain with their existing engines because they can’t afford to buy brand new Parillas. Neither of these groups is likely to join a national championship series that involves forking out thousands of pounds in entry fees, new tyres and controlled fuel. One bit of good news for Comers is that the Little Green Man fixture at Whilton Mill on April 28th has now moved to Larkhall and will take place a week earlier. This means that it no longer clashes with the ABkC O Plate meeting at Rowrah. I’m not sure quite what the thinking behind this original clash of dates could have been. I’m fairly certain, though, that entries in the O Plate would have been decimated without affecting Little Green Man numbers at all. If the O Plate for Comers had been cancelled through lack of numbers, it would have sent out a very bad message indeed. On the subject of O Plate Meetings, I was disappointed by the ABkC decision to stage them at three separate venues for Cadets. I remember reading an editorial in Karting magazine by Alan Burgess when the RAC first decided on a split between 100cc and gearbox classes for the 1969 British Championships. Alan lamented the fact that it would cause these categories to grow further apart. However, he conceded the point that circuits which suited 100cc classes weren’t generally good for 250cc gearbox karts. You can’t use the same argument for Cadets. There’s no statistical evidence I know of that shows Comers working better at Rowrah, Buckmore suiting Hondas and PF favouring Parillas. This, I believe, is a divisive step that further diminishes the value of “O” Plate titles when we ought to be looking at ways of enhancing them. Almost 350 years ago, an American revolutionary John Dickinson wrote “The Liberty Song” with a famous line “United we stand, Divided we fall”. It’s a sentiment that I hope the ABkC will heed when they meet to determine next year’s O Plate format. PULLQUOTE: All this goes to prove the madness of making predictions in karting. Never let it be said, however, that I’ve allowed sanity to interfere with a good story.”