The return of Formula Kart Stars to British karting in 2015 has ruffled a few feathers. In recent months it has been awarded championship status by the Motor Sports Association, revealed a huge prize fund and unveiled its calendar, which includes a blue riband round at Silverstone. It will also include high profile names from within the sport, to act as officials or coaching gurus. Preparations for the series have therefore taken a large step since Karting magazine visited FKS chairman Carolynn Hoy earlier last year. So we caught up with her to ask the questions that you want to know…
Karting magazine: How is Formula Kart Stars different to other domestic and international championships?
Carolynn Hoy: “FKS is unique in that it is the only karting championship supported by Formula One Management and Formula 1 teams. The Championship has been developed from the ground up with feedback from competitors, the karting industry and Formula 1. It combines controlled equipment, distributed by FKS, to offer competitors a unique and market leading level playing field at a fixed cost, allowing equal opportunities for talent to shine through.
“Not only that, but FKS delivers competitors exceptional value for money, providing up to twice as much track time over our race weekends as other championships. Add that to the fact that we have a substantial prize fund of over £300,000 per year, plus the links to Formula 1, and FKS clearly has the strongest opportunity for career progression for its drivers.”
KM: Do competitors get to keep the same chassis for the year?
CH: “Yes, competitors are allocated a chassis at the pre-season official test and they keep that for the whole season.”
KM: The championship will be keeping each kart in between rounds. So what is the procedure for collecting and returning karts at each meeting?
CH: “The FKS paddock and competitors awnings will be accessible to competitors or their mechanic at 12 noon on the Thursday prior to each official test day. Access will only be available to those with the appropriate passes as issued by the Championship. Competitors will be able to collect their kart from the FKS support truck any time after 12 noon on the Thursday.
“Competitors karts will be retained by them in their awnings until the completion of the race meeting on Sunday. At the end of Thursday, Friday and Saturday each competitor’s awning will be secured and the FKS paddock will be closed to access from 10pm.
“On completion of the final race on the Sunday, competitors will have until 10pm to return their kart to the FKS support truck, where the kart will be covered and sealed in the competitor’s presence. The kart remains sealed until the following race meeting.”
KM: What kind of adjustments to set-up can competitors make?
CH: “Competitors are permitted to adjust the top & bottom caster adjusters, front & rear Torsion Bar, seat positioning and choice of axle. Although some of these are class specific. Gearing and tyre pressures are also free.”
KM: Your literature quotes the championship as being ‘of an affordable cost’. Can karting really be affordable at £25,000 and £35,000 respectively?
CH: “Karting has become extremely expensive, with budgets for some championships quoted in excess of four times our entry fee. When you break down our price and consider the number of tyres, fuel, transport, use of an awning, amount of track time and the fact you get to keep the kart, you understand how we get to our budget.
“It’s important to remember the level of investment we’ve made into the infrastructure at our events. Each round will have a dedicated FKS paddock area complete with individual competitor awnings and a bespoke race control centre.
“There will also be a dedicated VIP hospitality unit, rather like a mini F1 Paddock Club. For the first time in karting this will provide drivers the opportunity to offer sponsors a level of hospitality reflective of the investment they’re seeking. It will be the best opportunity drivers have of generating sponsorship at the most important stage of their careers.”
KM: There is huge concern over decreasing driving standards in karting. How will you monitor this?
CH: “Like Formula 1, we will be utilising Driver Stewards to monitor and enforce driving standards on track. Driver Stewards will be of notable reputation and will include the likes of Mark Blundell, Gary Paffe