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Colin Wright – current view of karting in the UK

A year in, what’s changed? So, after accepting the role of Chairman back in December 2013 what is the current view of karting in the UK and what’s changed?

Numbers are up or are they down? It all depends which report you read. MSA participation reports an increase of 3% year on year yet licenses show a decrease against 2013, so it seems that our small pool of hardened racers are perhaps choosing to race more? Start karting packs are down significantly from 852 in 2013 to 463 currently in 2014, that’s a huge drop in apparent interest. Perhaps we will surpass 852 number in the remaining 2 months of 2014! Very positive moves from the MSA in reducing and holding certain fees and ARKS reducing test fees. However it may well be academic if we can’t garner more external interest and this could be reflected in the drop of start karting packs?

We are seeing a big growth in MSA venues now choosing to supplement their events by running IKR. When a club can only get sub 50 people racing in MSA sanctioned events and double that by running IKR, at some stage the stakeholders of that organisation will need to make a choice: profit/survival or continue to lose money! If we continue as we are the landscape is going to look significantly different very quickly, we need to understand that we are in a real battle to continue as we are, so why can’t we fix it when so many people in so many committees are in so much agreement? We are not supporting the smaller clubs enough and these will likely at some stage make a decision as to remain MSA or augment with IKR or move to IKR completely, we have seen many clubs this year ‘dip their toe in the water’ with IKR but I see many clubs watching very closely the growth and profitability. I am not being alarmist or extremist but realistic and unless we can commit to clear and decisive action quickly we may well see regulated karting removed from some fantastic drivers tracks!

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There have been some good positive progressive moves this year but will it encourage a growth in numbers and licenses for 2015, I’ll leave you the reader to consider that? Easykart has moved away from regulated karting for 2015, in comes bambinos and perhaps an upturn in interest from Lewis Hamilton being crowned F1 Champion this year will bring in new blood for 2015, but still we have some barriers to knock down here, where are the Seniors, how easy is it for them to get a license? I was recently quoted £225 for my medical and I only want to race a couple of races in a year, so what will I do, like many other seniors who just want to have some fun I’ll dust down a kart, do a couple of practice days and maybe head off to do a day IKR racing! Does that mean I am anti the very sport and Association I represent? No. Nigel Edwards has worked tirelessly as MSA Kart Committee Chairman and to see regulated karting grow we need to adopt some of those proposals Nigel has championed.

For the past 10 years I have heard that the sport is in crisis with ever lower numbers year after year, the numbers are not low as a whole but license holders are, we need to draw a line in the sand of what number of licenses we set that points to a level we cannot drop below and then work damn hard! But what happens if we drop to that number? We could just end up with a handful of MSA clubs and the others all running IKR, some will see that as scaremongering but let’s see where we go, if we see more and more people on track racing the most exhilarating and exciting form of Motorsport to a safe and controlled manner is that not something to embraced? The face of karting in the UK is poised to change dramatically over the next few years, your input is invaluable to those decisions, make sure your club attends the ABkC AGM on 9th December. As always feel free to contact me at chairman@abkc. org or +44 (0) 7841 034192