Karting in the year 1997: a history

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The CIK North American Champs were held at Charlotte in North Carolina. Marco Du Pau was found to be underweight in Formula Super A and so victory went to Sweden’s Milton Ryttarbris (Birel/Rotax/Dunlop). A diesel engine powered rental kart was spotted at a Belgian show. Denis Davidson, father of Super Aguri F1 driver Anthony, detailed his son’s impressive first season in European Formula A.


Michael Schumacher stole the show at the fourth indoor karting event at Paris-Bercy and was the dominant force whether racing against fellow F1 stars or leading karters.The Honda Challenge had its season finale at Buckmore Park with Daniel Allin (Cadet), Adam Chandler (Junior) and Rob Garofall (Senior) crowned champions. The 8th International Kart Show was held at Trentham Gardens near Stoke-on-Trent.

MARCH 1997

The karting section of the Autosport International show at Birmingham was a great success with Tal-Ko reporting that they had sold out of their engine show stock. As well as the usual variety of chassis and engines, the show also featured the innovative Distomo front torsion bar system, an electric kart from Bowman Zytek, the Yamaha FK250 4-stroke engine with electric start and the Kart-Kat exhaust gas purifier.

APRIL 1997

Vitantonio Liuzzi (CRG/CRG/V) dominated Formula A at the CIK Schincariol Trophy in Brazil. Alessandro Manetti (CRG/CRG/B) won Super A having punched Johnny Mislijevic in one of the heats. Manetti was fined $750. We tested the Yamaha FK250, an early attempt at fitting a powerful 4-stroke to a kart. Rickard Kaell (PCR/PCR/D) beat Anthony Davidson (Fullerton/Parilla/B) at the Oceania Champs in Australia.

MAY 1997

Antonio Garcia, Steve Molini and Benjamini Van de Wakker were the victors at the Margutti Trophy. Fernando Alonso was 4th in ICA. Kestrel Kart were given permission to race the Kilt water-cooled 100cc engine on a trial basis. At a noise test it was 4dBA quieter than air-cooled engines. Lewis Hamilton won the Junior TKM S1 Qualifier at Clay Pigeon. The CIK finally accepted that front spoilers needed to be mounted more firmly.

JUNE 1997

Rye House hosted the first of two British qualifiers for the ICA European Champs, Darron Gibbs (CRG/CRG) was the victor. The opening rounds of the Formula A and Super-A Euro Champs at South Garda saw wins for 4 different drivers, chassis and engines. Privateer Kimi Raikkonen though was the revelation of the meeting, taking a 3rd and a 5th in the heats and winning the repechage against very strong opposition.

JULY 1997

Jenson Button (Tecno/Rotax) won both Super A European Championship rounds at Salbris to put himself on top of the points table. Antonio Garcia (Mari/Ital Sistem) and Alban Martinet (GoKart/Sirio) took the Formula A victories. Touring car ace Tim Harvey tested a 250cc Formula 1 kart at Three Sisters. Kent got a brand new circuit in the shape of Bayford Meadows. Ian Mulliner of Atol talked us through fuel testing.


There was a double success for Japan at the CIK World Cup at Suzuka with victories for Kosuke Matsuura (FA) and Kazushi Sano (Super A). This was the first time Japanese drivers had won major CIK titles. Jenson Button was awarded the Ayrton Senna Memorial Trophy. We track tested two Fullerton chassis at salbris. Using a Pi datalogger we calculated that at Warden Law every extra kilo carried increased lap times by 0.02s.


Jenson Button (Tecno/Rotax/B) clinched the Formula Super A European Champs at Genk with Davide Fore 2nd overall. Spain’s Antonio Garcia (Mari/Ital Sistem/D) won the Formula A title. Nelson Van Der Pol and Michael Koel, both Tony/Vortex, won the two classes at the European Junior Champs. Noise tests at Shenington showed that an engine cover, exhaust end and water-cooling all reduced noise levels on 100cc outfits.


Fernando Alonso (Mike/Parilla) was unstoppable in the preliminary stages of the ICA Euro Champs at Genk, winning all his heats and the Pre-Final, but made an error on lap 4 of the Final and spun out. Alessandro Balzan (Top/Comer) of Italy ran out the victor. With the help of a Pi System 1 datalogger we were able to show that a new set of Bridgestone YEQs on a JICA kart were worth 0.6s over a used set around Warden Law.


The World Champs at Salbris had disputes over TV coverage, Elf banners and one driver took the CIK to court for rejecting his entry! James Courtney (Tony/Vortex) in Formula A and Danilo Rossi (CRG/CRG) in Super-A were the worthy champions. England won the inaugural Internations event at Cork in Ireland. Gianluca Beggio (Birel/TM) won his third 125cc Gearbox World title in a row at Ugento.


Bobby Game retained his Formula A British Championship title. Other Super One champions in 1997 were Jay Howard (100 TKM), Dean Haddon (100B), Jason Edgar (100C), Michael Spencer (JICA), Stephen Thompson (Cadet), Sam Garford (Junior TKM) and Lewis Hamilton (Junior Yamaha). Eric Salignon (Formula A), Gianluca Beggio (ICC) and Marvin Bylitza (Juniors) won at Monaco.