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Compared to the FWD, the Senior looks like something that wouldn’t look out of place at any kart track. It’s an Octane chassis with a 250cc four-stroke, fuel injected engine, the same used in the FWD but this time it’s rear- mounted and RWD.
Before I arrived at the circuit I wasn’t too sure what to expect so just to clear up it’s not a gearbox and is an electric start, which certainly put me at ease as I’d barely recovered from last months 175 test. It uses Komet tyres, which have already been proven in UK karting and the engine is developed by the touring car team. It’s simple to start, simple to maintain.
The first thing that captures you is the noise of the engine! I fired it up for the first time and it sounded like war. I was passed by a couple of quicker karts in the first session but I never heard them coming…
As I let the engine rip down the main straight for the first time I felt the speed building through my whole body, my hands, back, legs! The kart is not boring to drive even in a straight line. I felt the wheel vibrating as it started to top out (due to high gearing) and I thought there was a problem but it was just the engine willing me on.
It didn’t take the tyres long to get up to temperature and once they did the grip was phenomenal. I was planted through Stadium, all be it with the kart bouncing, which I paid the price for come the end of the day. As I came into hairpin one on lap 3 I decided to really see what the brakes could do and they’re pretty similar to any Rotax or X30 the only difference being the kart would go very light. So imagine you’ve hit the brakes then you start to feel the kart controlling you rather than the other way round, that’s kind of the feeling you get but you quickly get used to it.
As for acceleration, the characteristics are very similar to a TKM in the sense you are either on or off the throttle, there’s no in between. This is because it is fuel injected, it’s very precise. In the first session I was really feeding the power on and found myself bogging down. After a quick talk with Aron in session two I was putting my foot hard to the floor out of the hairpins and it worked a lot better.
The best thing engine-wise is the mid power band. Coming into the second hairpin: brake, turn in, foot to the floor and then almost a slight delay before the engine would let rip! And when I mean let rip I mean it is relentless!
The 250cc four-stroke offers great acceleration, strong top speed and the jart has the brakes to match. In terms of handling the kart is planted and rides the extremely unforgiving kerbs at Rye House fairly well. As long as you’re able to keep the kart controlled under braking and stamp your foot to the ground off the corner – which I’m sure most racing drivers wouldn’t struggle with – then you’ll be quick. It’s an incredibly stable kart front to rear. The motor is addictive. It’s what I loved most about the whole setup.
I was dropping around a three tenths in every session and on a good day this kart would comfortably break the Senior record round Rye on a race weekend, with the Junior version already smashing the Junior lap record!
This is certainly a real drivers kart but ultimately it’s not hard to drive. You can be aggressive and get away with it, you can put your foot down and the thing will rip your arms off! Just remember to pad up as it’s a brutal karting experience.