Has Rotax Changed Karting?


I spent a couple of days at the opening round of EuroMax at Genk. It’s clear that British teams have a good share of the existing market…

There are also British-based drivers who race in EuroMax who choose not to race here in the UK. I am not going to elaborate here on the potential reasons for this, I will leave it for you to speculate. However beware that your speculation is not suicidally depressing. EuroMax is alive and well. Under the expert guidance of the Guiedel family of Roland, Lynn and James the whole meeting exudes professionalism and excitement.

Here in the UK we can see used equipment changing hands in the leisure market for less than £1000 while top performing engines can command significantly more. The BRP-Rotax warranty scheme remains unique in motorsport and has been the company’s single most successful marketing tool since its inception more than ten years ago. From the manufacturers’ standpoint the warranty scheme is purely a means to see how well the product is performing out in the market place while benefitting the customer base at the same time. The fact that a competitor at the most basic of non-MSA events can complete a season on a budget of a few hundred pounds is fantastic. The fact that this guy is probably enjoying his sport every bit as much as the well-funded championship competitor is indeed a fact that should not be lost on the powers that be, cosseted in their splendid offices just west of Heathrow Airport.

Our new ABkC chairman seems to be determined to shake up the sport. There are thousands of people out there that love the sport of karting and yet the official licence figures are continuing to drop year on year. At what point will the governing body declare that it can no longer offer its support? There needs to be a hierarchy within the sport that welcomes the newcomer and nurtures the seasoned competitor. Historically we have produced some of the best drivers in the world and continue to do so today. The future of the sport as we know it is here and now, it would do us all well to listen to the wise words of Colin Wright, the new ABkC chairman as well as those on the international playing field such as Roland Guiedel of RGMMC, the promoter of the EuroMax series. The great success of EuroMax should be studied carefully. Its success is effectively removing drivers from racing at the highest level in the UK. Good for them, but not so good for the home market and definitely not so good for the future of the sport. Without the feed of competitors from the home market, where are the next generation of competitors going to come from?

Karting doesn’t have to be too expensive at entry level. The trade need to nurture beginners in order for them to stay in the sport and enjoy it enough to feel that they want spend a little more to progress within the sport. Rotax Max is the ideal if not the only product that can help them to do this. While the sealed engine system has had its critics in the past it is now proven to be the most successful formula the karting world has ever known.

Never before has one model of engine continued in production and at the forefront of completion for so long. The Max is now in its 17th year, and going from strength to strength.

There have been three generations of Rotax kart engine production. The first was a direct adaption of a motor cycle engine – the 256 tandem twin. This 250cc twin-cylinder rotary valve engine destroyed the establishment in Superkart racing and since production stopped, the various clones have continued to dominate this branch of the sport. In the late 1980s, the Rotax D100 landed in 100cc racing like an atomic bomb. Within six months it had swept all before it. Within two years all the regular engine manufacturers had produced their versions to compete against the all-conquering Rotax models of their day.

the Max was introduced in 1997. By this time 100cc racing was already in decline and was all but dead by 2004. Other manufacturers produce a wide range of TaG (touch and go) engines but none have equalled Rotax in terms of longevity or reliability. The success of the Max range of engines has been global and the market is still growing strongly.

Here in the UK, but we have a high proportion of our customer base in the MiniMax and Junior age groups. Rotax Max is continuing to grow here right from the entry level up to the most popular and competitive classes at national championship level.