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The Dino kart is back!

1Karting magazine was invited along to Rye House in April to see the relaunched Dino kart in action in the hands of Chevrolet WTCC driver Rob Huff. New importer Andrew Wilson has many fresh ideas for the new business, but the main thing we were wondering is whether Danish karts are as good as their drivers. The potential is certainly there as the karting scene is strong in the country, and the climate is much closer to ours than Italy’s climate is so this could be a kart that works across the whole range of conditions.

As important as the product itself though is the support available for it and Andrew Wilson of Dino Karts UK has some innovative ideas for his new venture. We saw the Rotax kart in action, and also had a look at the proposed Super Cadet chassis. Founded in 21959 as the sport first became popular in Europe, Dino karts and engines won Junior and Superkart World Championships and a European ICA Championship in the 1980s and 1990s, but in recent years the focus has been on more domestic racing, plus leisure karts and circuit equipment. Following the sale of the company last year, they are again looking to expand their presence internationally.

Finn Jorgensen founded Dino A/S over 50 years ago to build chassis, and the first engine was developed in 1979. Over the years, the karts have been driven by Michael Schumacher, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Jan Magnussen, with today’s model bearing the Magnussen name. Joakim Ward, owner of Tonykart team Ward Racing, also started his career on a Dino.

Now owned by Noergaard Teknik A/S, who mainly make parts for wind turbines and other specialist equipment, Dino build every part in house and there is a rapid turnaround. “We can tell the factory on Sunday if something can be improved and we can get the new part by Wednesday,” said Wilson. Jorgensen is still involved as a consultant, and the production manager is Anders Byriel.

Wilson raced karts as a teenager, appearing on our cover (kartingm.ag/d7Zr1q) in 1982 on a works Hewland Arrow. He had been out of the sport for a while, living on the continent building luxury houses. As his son Teddy got interested in racing, Wilson also wanted to be more involved so he looked around for a product to develop and sell and saw the most potential in Dino. He wanted to be more than just an agent and was keen to take an active role in the progress of the Dino kart.

Rob Huff had been out once before on the Dino but his karting career previously had been limited to endurance racing. He met Wilson in the mid-1990s when they raced against each other at PFi, then reconnected at a race at Pau and stayed in contact. Huff got back into kart racing last year and lives right next to Red Lodge so he had been out a bit in Rotax. He liked the balance and feel of the Dino so is helping Wilson. “It’s good for me to get in a kart as it helps my reactions and develops racecraft,” said Huff.

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After racing in the EKI endurance series, Huff ended up on a works Anderson, then when he was 18 in 1998 his birthday present from his parents was a Jim Russell course. It was in FFord 1600 and there was a race at the end of the week which he won. Jim Russell did a World Scholarship that year for the best students from the various courses with a three-day knockout competition to win a fully paid-for Formula Vauxhall Junior drive which Huff won, competing in the class in 2000. Huff also finished 2nd in the Formula Palmer Audi Winter Series that year, and after watching Kimi Raikkonen go straight to F1 from Formula Renault decided that was the way to go. He was competing against Colin Brown for the novice trophy but ran out of money.

In 2002 Huff entered Tim Sugden’s scholarship competition and won his second scholarship, this time winning a season’s drive in the Clio Cup where he came 3rd. Next he raced in the Seat Cupra Cup, which was televised in a reality show that year, and he won the prize of a BTCC drive alongside Jason Plato. He signed for the Ray Mallock-run factory Chevrolet team to race in the WTCC the following year. So far his best results have been 3rd in 2008 as the top petrol-engined car and last year was 5th in the championship in the new Cruze which is rare for a new car. This year he had a good start in Brazil, finishing 3rd behind new team mate Yvan Muller, and the team was then leading the manufacturers championship.

Dino Karts UK are planning many new ideas which haven’t been widespread among kart dealers so far. “We wanted to offer good support to all our drivers,” said Wilson. “For example, we are planning to invite all customers to our base to get the seat fitted and the corner weights set up. We’ll also be giving out setup guides with the karts.” This is something that Drew Price has tried with Arrow karts but it has never caught on with the major Italian manufacturers. They will also be available to help with setup and will go out with drivers on their first test day. The most basic principle though is to make the kart easy to drive. So far the company is concentrating on Rotax Max karting at club level, and aiming to bring a good level of factory support to everyone, in a contrast with many teams who enter Super One with a big bang. However, there will be guest appearances in Euromax and in the Scandinavian Cup.

Dino homologated a KF engine in 2007 but there was never much development on it and none were raced on the international stage. That is also due to change with work starting on developing a credible engine this season. They also build a DD2 chassis as it is very popular in Northern Europe, and they have applied to homologate a Cadet chassis as well as the Super Cadet, which is where they see are large amount of future sales coming from.

On the track, Huff is very smooth compared to a lot of drivers, and also the kart was easy on tyres. We were trying to get the weight 4on the inside wheel, but the team felt we didn’t necessarily need to get the wheels lifting. After an initial few warmup laps, the tyre pressures were decreased and the carb needle changed, and Huff did a 37.5s lap once. In the next session, the carb was a bit sticky and the pressures were put down again. “It’s smooth and easy to drive, which is what you need for a club chassis,” said Huff, who was now doing consistent mid 37s laps.

In the next session it was bouncing too much but laps were faster with 37.3s, then the sprocket was changed to 87 from 88 which made a huge difference, bringing the times down into the 36s bracket even though the tyres were now very worn. The rear width was moved out 10mm to compensate for the tyres, and Huff felt that half a second was lost with the tyres but gained with the chassis adjustments.

I was most impressed by Andrew Wilson’s approach to providing for the needs of racers, and if he can pull off everything he is planning there is a lot of potential there for making owner-driver karting more user-friendly for newer racers, which is an issue I had personally when my husband was racing at club level. Having some starting points in terms of setup and being able to feel responsiveness to changes always helps. I strongly believe that if karting becomes restricted to either people who can afford to run with a team, or otherwise to arrive-and-drive championships it will be unsustainable as an industry, so I have a lot of time for anyone who wants to make things easier for those of us with the time and inclination to learn.

However, a lot of us are also aspirational, and in the long term I would think people will want to see Dinos at the sharp end in the national and international championships so they know it is a machine they can progress with. Some of the legends of British karting from the last couple of decades have put in some test laps too and have been impressed so Dino Karts UK is heading in th right direction.

Kart Specs

  • We used the Magnussen Edition for Rotax
  • The pedals are designed differently to most, with the uprights in the middle
  • Less variables in terms of bars, seat stays and other adjustments
  • There is a relatively large amount of camber as Danish circuits tend to be very smooth

More Information

  • dinokartsuk.com
  • dino.dk
  • Previous Dino articles in Karting magazine – kartingm.ag/cyTBa4
  • Dino Karts UK would like to thank Rye House for their help – rye-house.co.uk
  • Rob Huff’s official website – huffsport.com

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