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Paul Di Resta and Alessandro Piccini won our 2001 Kart Driver Rankings, compiled in association with Champion spark plugs. WTP Cadet arrived in the UK. We told the story of GP Karting in Kenya, the only kart circuit within 2,500 miles. The tarmac broke up the first time it was used, poisonous snakes were a regular hazard and the residual water in the safety tyres had to be drained to reduce mosquito breeding potential.
Sebastian Vettel and Jeremy Iglesias were the two junior winners at the 9th indoor event at Paris Bercy while Fernando Alonso was impressive in the main event. Italy won the team event on both days with totally different team members. 4-stroke Bilands were used for the first time. We paid a visit to Zip Kart and met Alec Bottoms who built the first “Zipper”, and also interviewed John Surtees.
250cc Formula E looked like it would enjoy something of a resurgence as SGM and FPE both built new engines for the class. Promax, endurance racing using the Rotax MAX, was being touted as the next big thing and had been adopted as the MSA British Endurance Kart Championship class. Circuits at Brooklands, Glasfryn Parc and Lakeside were all either being built or extended.
The Rotax Max World Finals were held at Langkawi, Malaysia with the country’s Prime Minister on hand to present the commemorative medals. The Rotax DD2 kart was unveiled with its axle passing through the rear of the 2-speed gearbox casing. There were interviews with Roger Mills and Mark Rose, while BRDC McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year finalist Danny Watts gave a step-by-step guide to making the move from karting into racing cars.
We visited the Team Biland factory in Switzerland where the 250cc twin cylinder 4-stroke Biland SA250 engines were produced. Also on show was a development 200cc single cylinder engine for rental karts and World Formula called the Hurricane. 17 drivers took part in the first race in the UK for the new WTP Cadet class. Sniper introduced a laser wheel alignment system for accurate measurement of camber and toe in/out.
The major engine and kart manufacturers were up in arms at CIK proposals, led by the then President Yvon Leon, that included the proposed introduction of four-stroke engines and future exclusion of two-strokes in all CIK classes. We talked to the designer of the new FPE twin cylinder 250cc engine for Superkarts. One lucky magazine reader won a paint job for his helmet and we showed the various steps from unpainted to the completed design.
The victors at the Clay Pigeon Senior Super One round in 2002 are still at the top or well known in karting circles ten years on: Mark Litchfield (Formula A), Micky Higham (100 National), Martin Pierce (Rotax Max) and Charlie Bruce-White (TKM). The UK Cup meeting for the long circuit gearbox classes at Pembrey saw wins for Don Thompson (210 National), Rob Nash (Formula 125), Graham Barker (Formula E), John Riley (250 Int) and Paul Bateman (250 Nat).
Alessandro Manetti (CRG/Maxter) took both wins for the D.R. (Dunlop Racing) team at the opening event of the multi-round World Champs at Mariembourg. Ben Hanley (Maranello/Maxter) impressed on his series debut, taking pole and then 2nd place in Final 2.We tested and loved a new version of the 125 Europa one-make gearbox class utilising a Topkart chassis and MC BAT engine but class numbers never really got above a single grid.
Ronnie Quintarelli (Birel/TM) won both races at the second round of the World Champs at Alaharma in Finland. F1 drivers Mika Salo and Mika Hakkinen were amongst the spectators.The British Kart Grand Prix at Pembrey had less than 90 entries, the poorest turnout in the GP’s history, while the first round of the re-introduced European Superkart Championship at the Nurburgring had to be cancelled due to fog.
Martin Hines led the Division 1 Superkart Euro Champs after two wins at Donington. John Riley topped the Division 2 points table. Giedo van der Garde (CRG/Maxter) and Michael Ammermuller (Tony/Vortex) shared the wins at the third round of the Formula Super A World Champs at Braga but the championship was still led by Birel’s Ronnie Quintarelli. The Pogue Mahone team dominated the Clay Pigeon Pro-Kart Festival, winning all 4 races.
David Hemkemeyer (Formula A), Robert Dirks (ICC) and Francesco Laudato (Super-ICC) won European Championship titles at the third and final round at Mariembourg. Future F1 driver Sebastien Buemi was victorious at the European Junior (JICA) Champs at Angerville while Jonathan Thonon took the ICA honours. Gary Catt, a privateer up against works teams, was 3rd. England retained their Inter Nations Challenge title in Ireland.
Giedo van der Garde (CRG/Maxter) won both finals at La Conca to win the Formula Super-A World Championship from Ronnie Quintarelli (Birel/TM) who had led the points table coming into the meeting. The Tony Kart Racing Team of Davide Fore and Marko Asmer retained the Team title. Martin Hines (Div.1) Zip/Rotax and John Riley (Div.2) Anderson/Rotax clinched the European Superkart titles at Le Mans.