The Kart Découverte show this year moved from Angerville up to north of Paris in the paddock of the Circuit Carole on the first weekend in February, sandwiched between Charles de Gaulle Airport to the north and the Paris Exhibition Centre to the south. Another brainchild of the charismatic editor of Kart-Mag, Jacky Foulatier, the show has gone from strength to strength in the last couple of years and is now an essential part of the trade calendar in France. All the important members of the industry were present including Birel, who had arrived in force with their transporter as they did for Autosport International last year. The Birel brand is very strong in France, well served by distributor MGT situated at Montesson on the western outskirts of Paris. Sodikart were also at the show with their artic plus a full set of staff and equipment.
Apart from their impressive racing results over the last few years, Sodi are among the world leaders in the production of leisure karts and equipment. Also in evidence were PSM the renowned tuners for TM engines who are also distributing PCR karts since their amicable split from Sodi last year. The French manufacturer Go-Kart had a good selection of new models and are now managing the Challenge Minarelli, a stand alone championship for a range of French national classes. The Bordeaux company Of Course had a lot of interest in their stand partly due to the Oral 4-stroke engine and, more importantly, because of their delightful wine and oyster bar situated discreetly at the back! Alpha, CRG, Intrepid, Nowa, Maranello and Zanardi were all well represented. TonyKart were supported by their relatively new distributor, RKO from Angerville. RKO under the expert guidance of Alain Colin, took on the Tony brand at the end of 2004 and have seen a steady growth in their numbers ever since. The Tonykart brands are not as well known in France as they are here in the UK., although I suspect their sales are still very significant since the French market is substantially larger than ours.
Two British manufacturers braved the elements to exhibit at the show. Dartford Karting returned again this year but under the guise of Wild Kart and HiSpec brakes. Dartford are the UK distributor for Wild Kart and World distributor for HiSpec. HiSpec are new kids on the block as far as kart brakes are concerned having approached Dartford Karting’s Martin Collard last year with a view to producing a quality product for this market. They already produce brakes for motor racing teams as well as being original equipment on Radical sports racing cars. The front and rear systems are both CIK homologated and attracted a lot of attention at the show as did the ever impressive display of Wild Kart accessories and freshly homologated chassis. New to the show this year were R3 Racing. who have been manufacturing their laser alignment system for some years now, always very popular at shows in the UK. They also produce a range of associated products including the Battery Check for the Rotax or TaG classes with an on board battery, and a handy chain wheel aligner that directs a laser beam onto the front sprocket to assist with alignment in a few seconds. However R3 Racing’s main claim to fame recently has been their purchase last summer of the Kelgate brake company.
The ‘old’ Kelgate closed its doors for the last time early in 2005 and many believed that was the end of what had been a very good thing. A large proportion of long circuit gearbox racing karts relied on Kelgate as did many Endurance racing specialists. R3 picked up the pieces and are now back in full production of many of the original models. They also have some new ideas which they will be introducing to the market in the near future. All the R3 products including Kelgate attracted a very good level of interest at the show and I know that both MD Roy Tuthill and Sales Exec Steve Howlett were very pleased with this, their first visit to the French show. They have appointed two distributors so far in France, MGT and KCM. Kart Découverte was a great success according to all the exhibitors and visitors I spoke to. I hear the show will stay at Carole for 2007. Wrap up warm and make the trip!