The Max Column

The final round of the Rotax Euro Challenge was held on the super new circuit at Genk in Belgium over the weekend of the 23rd and 24th of October. I know that the illustrious Scotsman, Graham Smith will be writing a full report in this issue so I will not go into the finer details of the racing here. However there are some elements of the weekend that I would like to touch on.

First of all I cannot speak too highly of the fantastic job that the Lemmens family have done in creating one of the finest Karting facilities in the World. Genk has always been up there amongst the best, but the new circuit and infrastructure has taken it ahead and out of reach for the majority of other venues.

RGMMC. The Roland Giedel organisation, that organises the Euro Challenge can also be proud of their achievements. The event had just the right amount of competitive edge, atmosphere and fun. Ken Walker, now the resident commentator,  does a great job. Ken always has a positive word for everyone. Race World television broadcasted the whole of the finals live, I understand that there was in excess of 7 hours of live action Karting and this was interspersed with interviews and a Talk show that I was lucky enough to be involved with. Presented by Ken Walker there was Koen Lemmens, Ton from Kombi Kart and myself. Fortunately the discussion ran freely from the future of Karting and the Rotax position within that development to the need for a sound inexpensive entry-level product to attract new blood into the sport. What was expected to be a brief 15 minute chat turned into a 50 minute discourse! The Race World director was sufficiently pleased with the content that he has asked Ken to do regular monthly Talk shows throughout the coming months. This kind of thing can only benefit the sport, Television is the key! This is a fantastic opportunity lets use it to unlock the future.

Plans for next year’s series are well under way, at the moment I can only assure you that the Euro Challenge will be even bigger and better than hitherto. Across the 4 classes at Genk, DD2, Masters, Seniors and Juniors there was some really great racing and few accidents. A modern circuit, timed practice and long races do the job. The best win the races, how refreshing!

The DD2 class is gathering momentum with more serious enquiries than before. There were a number of examples on display and for test by the assembled journalists. KombiKart, PCR, Birel, CRG, Sodi, MS, Gillard and Intrepid have all produced models that were present at Genk. The new DD2 karts are a little faster than the original RM1 it seems. I think this is down to the individual manufacturers now having more interest in the product than before. The development has therefore had a new boost of effort, the results of which can be seen in the excellent looking chassis on the grid and is proven in the time sheets.

The World Finals in Portugal are early this year, November in Portugal. We will have some good British interest. The Winner of the Senior class at the Super 1 plus those that have qualified through the Euro Challenge all get the ticket.

Technical issues this month. First of all, this is the time of year when I can fill a few lines reminding everyone about the need for anti-freeze in the radiator. The results of a freeze up are catastrophic, usually a cracked cylinder and an expensive rebuild. While on the subject, it is worth remembering that anti-freeze does not mean that the engine is warmer! It is very important to warm the engine up gently in winter, cover the radiator as much as possible until the engine has reached working temperature, at least 35 degrees before you give it the beans! At 50 degrees the carburetion will work properly, anything less and it is very hard to find the right jetting. Water can be the cause of a strange malady, sometimes the responsibility of our friendly scrutineers I’m told! At some circuits it is insisted apon that not only the radiator breather has a catch bottle but also the gearbox breather. It is then advised to take both breathers into the same catch bottle. It is then possible for the water to be transferred to the gear case. In the worst scenario the gear case can become so contaminated with water that the gears, balance shaft bearings and crank oil seal fail. This is a totally avoidable engine failure. It should not be necessary to fit a breather tube to the gear case, if your scrutineer insists, just make sure that it is done in such a way that it cannot contaminate the gears in any way. The gears are very reliable providing that they are checked, cleaned and have enough oil to work in.

The Exhaust baffles that are now being delivered have a better finish and longer welds on the tube itself. These tubes are the only ones coming through from the factory now and are perfectly legal to use. However contrary to popular rumour the use of two exhaust waddings is strictly forbidden. All parts must be used as delivered and the exhausts have only ever been delivered with one wadding installed. Again there is much pit lane gossip about the benefits of extra wadding. The sensible testing that I have heard about suggests that there is probably no difference in performance at all.

The clutch bearing has recently been causing some problems. This bearing must be in good condition and regularly greased. Although the bearing itself is not too expensive, the results of a lack of maintenance can lead to a very worn crankshaft journal and a replacement crank is the only option, ouch! It is only a couple of minutes work to take off the clutch drum, wash the bearing and replace it if necessary. The bearing should be lubricated with high melting point lithium based grease. If this is done there will never be a problem, the bearing and the crank will last almost indefinitely. However it is most important to check this after running in the wet, or at any time that the kart might have been subjected to a jet wash!

An early reminder that the Kart Show has moved to the impressive ExCel centre in the London docklands and will be held on the 2nd weekend in December. The show looks set to be bigger and better than ever, I understand that the trade are voting with their feet and that most if not all the stand space is taken. The organisers are on the point of taking more hall space to satisfy the demand.

JAG confirm that the tyres for 2007 will be VEGA. As usual there has been speculation and rumour that a change was imminent, JAG have continued to work with Rotax and Heidenau on the development of the MoJo tyres, however it had to be decided to remain with the existing suppliers for the general good and stability of the Rotax classes in the UK.

Hopefully next month the column will be written in Portugal.