What the Mad Croc chassis achieved last year has to be one of the most difficult things to do in Karting. In it’s first year as a brand, it went to the CIK European KF Championships and not only went toe to toe with the giants of OTK and CRG, but beat them.
Ben Hanley won the European title for the first time in his career, something drivers spend their whole life trying to do. On top of that he became the first ever ‘Karting magazine Driver of the Year’.
He had become Mad Croc’s biggest advertising tool and with his success followed sales of the chassis in the UK, headed up by Simon Parker and Dan Stilp at PPR Motorsport.
It wasn’t just Hanley who was successful on it though, in the UK Jacob and Max Stilp were taking wins and podiums at LGM and at their, now, base Whilton Mill with Jacob breaking records taking victory in every final he took part in! Scary stuff considering the class of the Senior X30 field.
So a year old and already more established than chassis twenty years their senior what is it about this kart that gave it such competitiveness in the UK?
It took me just one session to realise what the two things are that this kart brings to the table and gives it an edge over it’s competitors. They are, positive front end and smooth over the bumps.
Let’s start’s with the front end…
The track was very green in the morning due to rain overnight but when we did eventually go out I felt the benefits of the front end straight away!
As I charged up to turn 3 I was expecting huge understeer as I hit the anchors, but instead the kart started heading straight for the apex. Down into turn six and the same again happened and into Chapman’s the same again!
I took it fairly steady in session one just to build things up and as I came in the pits the first thing I said to Simon Parker was “the front end is amazing!”
His reply…. “I know”
After a quick break it was time to head out again, I was advised “be very light on the steering, just concentrate on your braking and let the kart do the rest!”
When you try and digest that advice it’s quite funny really. Your holding onto a steering wheel flying into a hairpin at 70mph with a barrier smiling at you and your told not to worry about turning, but their right!
Session two and three were where I really started to get used to the front end. I was hardly turning the wheel yet the chassis was picking up beautifully, if such a thing can happen, and I was moving my braking forward every lap.
Where this especially helps are turns 1 and 2 and the boot.
Turn 2 is the most important corner at Whilton Mill so getting that right is crucial. I was able to take so much speed through turn 1 and keep so far left which was resulting in a great exit out of two. The boot was a similar story and it’s fair to say I was really enjoying myself!
In my five years of racing I used to spend days trying to set my Gillard up to do exactly what I wanted the Mad Croc to do! If only it had been around then…
Morning over and I had got down to a 46.1, now considering I’m around 8kg over the weight and there were only 5 or 6 karts banging round that day it wasn’t bad at all!
As the afternoon sessions started I started to really feel the benefit of this karts second asset:
Good over the bumps!
The place where this is most noticeable round Whilton Mill is turn 5. Now it’s of course flat out, but usually you feel the kart bounce 3 or 4 times. However, in the Mad Croc it’s only once and that’s if you use the kerb, which I was doing 80% of the time.
In my opinion that’s definitely a time gainer and it’s also a more comfortable drive!
Every time I’d come in Simon would tell me you have to take more kerb. Now anyone who hasn’t raced would know trying to launch kerbs is always one of those things where you grit your teeth before doing it until your fully used to it.
In the Mad Croc that is taken away. Going over the kerbs into the boot, last corner and through turn one felt like driving on the tarmac. The more I was using the quicker I was going and it started to get to the point where I was matching Jacob Stilp!
Whilton Mill is a bumpy track but in a Mad Croc it is more like being on a Sunday drive, in karting terms that is! It’s very enjoyable and allows you to really focus on your braking which is great for any newcomers to the sport.
Coming towards the end of the day I was starting to really knock on the door of the 45 second mark so we sat down and looked through some data.
I was losing out on braking at turn six and in the second part of the boot to Jacob.
However, I also felt the kart was starting to slide out of the corners with the track temperature going up and this is apparently very normal with the Mad Croc chassis in those conditions so we decided to take some caster off.
I had now become very determined to brake this 45 second barrier so with the changes now made I was sent out right behind Jacob!
The Final sessions
Just before I headed out for the penultimate session Simon asked me “are you braking for the last two corners?”
I replied “Yes”
He said “Just lift, it’ll help the chassis work better”
Down the visor went….
Personally I was expecting Jacob to disappear, but three laps went by then four then five and I was still right on his tail. The change in the boot had done the trick along with braking down into turn six.
I could see on the dash I had done a 45.8 so after 10 laps I pulled in and prepared for the final run.
The aim was now to get a 45.7 in the last run and law and behold I did it! I didn’t want to stop driving the Mad Croc but my arms agreed otherwise.
Overall I was only two tenths off Jacob and a tenth off Charlie Bingham!
There are two choices of brake disc available with the Mad Croc, they are 180mm and 192mm. I was using the 180mm and the kart felt very stable, the kart was never sliding under braking and I had no real complaints, I thought it was very good. However if your someone who likes their kart to slide under braking you’ll have the option of moving the the 192mm which will allow this to happen.
It was genuinely hard to fault this kart and that may be down to the fact that the circuit really plays into it’s strengths. The tracks it goes particularly well at are Whilton, Buckmore Park, Le Mans, Rowrah, PFI and Kimbolton as their mostly corner heavy!
So I’d say there may be some tracks out there like Shenington where that advantage will disappear. And I suppose in a way that could be a negative when you’re at those circuits, maybe.
- Frame – 25CrMo4
- Tubes – 30mm
- Wheelbase – 1040mm
- Rear axle F50mm, 4 types, 2 lengths
- Adjustable front stabilizer bar
- Brake system – LZF05
- Floating and ventilated rear brake disc
- Rear brake calliper – aluminium billet F26mm
- Rear master cylinder – F22mm with stroke recovery
- Rear brake hose – Stainless braided
- Front brake kit available
- Magnesium rims
- Magnesium engine plate
- Aluminium carbon look sticker floor tray
- Adjustable foot rest
- Seat – Fibreglass with aluminium texture
Includes (used by all Team drivers):
- Angled Steering Boss
- Seat Stays
- Sticker Kit
- Full set of mag wheels
- Mad Croc Seat
Additional extras available:
- 192mm brake disc
- half caster kit
As I’ve mentioned the Mad Croc is very easy to drive and the setup is hardly ever touched. So this will allow you to just concentrate on braking and carrying speed through the corner.
The steering is very light so whether you’re experienced or a novice, in a Mad Croc all you have to do is concentrate on using a little steering input as possible! Also let the chassis do the work. For example, me carrying more speed into the second part of the boot allowed the kart to do one of the things it does best, turn in. If you carry less speed, you’ll be restricting it’s talents.
Don’t be afraid of the kerbs, this thing is as smooth as anything so just grit your teeth and get on with it as that’ll soon turn into a smile!
Go hard and late on the brakes, there is of course a limit but until you hit that point the later you go the bigger reward you’ll get!
All in all, I have to say the Mad Croc was an absolute joy to drive. It was very easy to get used to and I loved how the front end took away some of the usual thought processes and just allowed me to concentrate more on braking and carrying speed. Under braking the kart was very stable meaning I had no major moments or slides, even in the morning! It was a comfortable drive as it was good over the bumps and I think the times spoke for themselves with my fastest a 45.7. It makes sense how this kart has done so well both in Europe and in the UK and as it’s reputation continues to grown I only expect it to take more titles.
Test one yourself!
To enquire about a test in a Mad Croc chassis contact Simon Parker on 07855 831921 or via email at pprkartteam
Written by Chris McCarthy
Images courtesy of Stu Stretton