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Open to debate: Your views

Last month we asked: ‘Are competitors in MSA events getting value for money? Here are your thoughts:

Dear Dave

I read with interest your article ‘Open To Debate’ in Karting Magazine yesterday and I have to say what a refreshing point of view it was. I am the father of Harry McQuillan, Mini Max Driver (No 98) for TMR Development. We are very new to the sport (having only started in cadets in April 2013) and have been dragged into the commitment needed to compete in this sport on a week by week basis. Our aim as a driver is to be competitive and to take part in the national competitions, we have no grand ideas of becoming the next F1 driver and view this phase of our son’s life as educational, enjoyable and competitive. Cost is a variable that unfortunately is potentially uncontrollable, there will always be somebody who is willing to test more, test longer, travel further, buy more karts/engines, buy better engines, use more tyres etc.

That is a different conversation and one that does need debating, because there is a growing concern amongst the karting fraternity that the best drivers are not winning, it is invariably the one with the biggest budget. This I feel in the long run has the greatest potential to devalue existing and new class champions – top level pay drivers receive heavy criticism but in reality there is no difference in karting – yet this is overlooked. It would be very interesting to see what the pound for point ratio is for a class champion, especially an IAME Cadet? Does that make them a worthy champion? In relation to your snap shot of recent events at TVKC I agree that there has been a lot of concern surrounding the feasibility of holding an event with such large numbers. The timed qualifying (whilst this is the format of higher competitions) as you say is a doubled edged sword, especially at club level or where as a team or driver you are trying to work on all areas of your race craft in what is technically a shake down for future Super One rounds.

The qualifying at TVKC is fundamentally flawed in that the track is an every evolving beast so the 101% rule will always be implemented devaluing the concept of a Quali format ñ in my opinion. The resulting format means that the pre final becomes ever more important and encourages more desperate driving. One of our experiences was that we had a poor Quali, got taken out after 4 seconds in the pre final through no fault of our own which resulted in us being in the B Final. The B Final went well and we were in 2nd place challenging for the lead when 3rd place driver lunged and took us off (they were disqualified) but our promotion to the A Final had been removed through no fault of our own. The end result was after a weekend costing in excess of £1000 with additional (non fault) damage costs we raced for 8 minutes, mainly down to other driving standards. The frustration is highlighted when you are often waiting 2 hours between your 7 minute practise sessions (on a Saturday) or races (on a Sunday) to watch a new class run round with 6 or 8 karts or a B final with 6 karts? This is at the expense of the existing formulas which are universal and most drivers have committed to.

As you rightfully point out TVKC is a victim of its own success, a highly professional track with very high standard facilities – something that all tracks up and down the country should aspire to be. However this should not affect the quality or quantity of what should be a minimum amount of racing for all classes and as my son tweeted (@harrymcquillan1), they are at the stage that they could now run 2 x club meetings per month, giving better quality racing and value for money. Will they do it? I think we all know the answer to that. Whilst there is a growing number of participants who are now withdrawing from the venue until the Super One round later this year, the club and venue have no concern because they are busier than they have ever been which just highlights the fundamental issue with karting ñ it is a business first and a sport second and whilst demand outstrips supply there is no need to provide either value for money or a good customer experience. The Karter is the customer! On a separate note I would like to draw your attention to the article on Colin Wright last month. I would argue that some of the very poor driving standards are driven by the frustrations above and the failure of clubs to correctly man and monitor the race track suitable to the participant numbers. Again TVKC should be highlighted as better than most, but not good enough for the fairness and integrity of the sport – especially when your discussion centres on value for money.

Kind Regards
Steve McQuillan