During the 2014 season the Formula 450 four stroke class has emerged as a viable proposition for the future, proving to be a cost effective way of racing on long circuits. For the past few years, they have been running alongside the F250 National two stroke class in the MSA British Superkart Championship. However, this has only been with Challenge status rather being eligible for a full blown championship due to low entry numbers. Is this about to change?
Malcolm Clark, ex-Superkart driver and father of 2014 F450 Champion Stephen Clark, believes that four stroke Superkart racing is the best contender to take a driver from short circuit to long circuit racing.
“This is the perfect class for those drivers and mechanics who may not have the full technical knowledge needed to participate in two-stroke racing. The concept is perhaps similar to Rotax Max whereby you have service intervals of approximately 25 hours and with very lile maintenance between race meetings. Usually an oil and filter change will suffice. One of the added advantages is that you only need to press a button to start the engine.”
After a lot of research the KTM engine has emerged as the most competitive and is readily available from a motocross bike. The engine stripped down and then rebuilt. With some modifications an engine can cost approximately £3800 including VAT.
“Everything that is needed is included in the price. An optional slipper clutch is also available, however we recommend fiing one,” explains Malcolm. The power output of the KTM450 is over 60bhp and is similar to a CR250 Honda engine currently being used in the MSA Superkart Championship with top speeds approaching 130mph. The gearbox is five- speed and the torque is the same as a more powerful Division 1 twin cylinder superkart. Malcolm advises that the KTM engine can be dropped into a standard Anderson 250 superkart chassis using the existing Honda engine mounts, with the total weight of kart and driver coming in at 212kgs.
Stephen Clark began racing in Junior Rotax Max before moving on to Senior Max, enjoying every minute of it. When Stephen turned 17, Malcolm wanted him to try two-stroke long circuit racing and follow in his footsteps. “I knew that once he had made the move he would be hooked. The exhilarating feeling of being on a long circuit and the greater speeds cannot be beered and it’s something that everyone experiences once they have made the switch,” adds Malcolm. In Stephen’s first novice long circuit season in 2010 he competed at Darley Moor. Consistent results and two outright wins were capped when he won a huge trophy as the ‘Most Improved Driver’ of the season. He then moved on to compete in the MSA British Superkart High-revving single-cylinder motorcycle engines are well proven in Supermoto bikes but also in the MotoGP Moto3 class Championship running a CR250 Honda two stroke under the Redspeed banner. He finished in 4th place in his first race at Sneerton and also collected two other top six results during his first season. However, the four stroke class was emerging as a possible alternative.
After discussing the option with Redspeed boss, multiple champion John Riley, a suggestion was made to work with four stroke specialist Richard Cornick of Cyclone Racing to assist with the development of the KTM engine and the F450 class. The 2014 season has been outstanding for the team with Stephen winning 11 of the 12 rounds in the championship and also collecting the Grand Prix class title. He has also proved the pace of the KTM 450 engine by winning outright at Silverstone and Anglesey against the two-strokes in the MSA British Superkart Championship. So what is in store for 2015? Early indications show an increase of drivers in the F450 class and with rounds on the full Silverstone Grand Prix circuit and the Donington Grand Prix circuit it looks like a superb year of racing awaits. Are four- strokes the future of Superkart racing? It is certainly worth consideration.