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Watching The Pennies

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How much to restrict the WTP has been a contentious subject

Ever since Lou Borelli was called in to carry out some modifications on Art Ingels’ West Bend motor in August 1956, engine tuners have laboured long hours to extract that elusive bit of extra power. I hear that Mike Mills has also been burning the candle at both ends in recent months. Perversely though, Mike’s efforts have been spent making the new WTP motors actually go slower! There’s a simple explanation. It’s all to do with an MSA directive that the WTP mustn’t be quicker than a Comer. After fitting various restrictors and even reducing the compression ratio, speeds were reduced until they began to match Comer times. Rigorous back to back tests were carried out and the MSA gave consent for the new motor to begin racing on March 1st. This consent was then rescinded after a practice session at Shenington had apparently shown the WTP to be superior once again. Testing, as any kart competitor will confirm, often produces inaccurate results. The moment of truth always occurs on race day when suddenly everything’s for real. At the time of writing we’ve had just one race meeting, on March 5th, where Comers and WTPs could be accurately compared.

During Saturday’s practice sessions the rumour mill was working overtime. All the WTPs, it was alleged, had been posting times at least a full second per lap quicker than any Comer and the MSA observer expressed concerns about driver safety associated with such high speeds. Sunday’s racing produced a slightly different picture. Only one hundredth of a second separated the two classes in heat 1 followed by 0.09s next time out. Sam Clarence stretched this a bit further in the Final as his quickest lap was 0.17s faster than Max McGuire’s best. Had they been competing together in the same race however, Sam would have actually beaten Max by just 33cm. Instead of settling the argument, this parity of performance has given rise to further debate. There was an allegation that Comer drivers are naturally around half a second per lap quicker than their WTP counterparts and this disguised the real difference in performance. Frankly, this demonstrates a total ignorance of the WTP scene and is an insult to contenders such as Brad Fairhurst, Sam Clarence and Adam Hughes, all of whom were in action at P.F. Last season Max Goff was always on the pace in S1 and Stars events for Comers.

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Lloyd Huggins is hoping to make an impression in the LGM champs

If such a big ability gap really does exist, then Max should have destroyed his WTP opponents. However, he raced in all seven rounds of the Little Green Man championships without once setting fastest time. The reality is that drivers such as Fairhurst, Clarence and Hughes would be at the front of any Cadet class given equal machinery. If their times are virtually identical to Comers, it’s because the motors must be broadly equal. It may well be that, despite all Mike’s efforts, the WTP is very marginally quicker, but why should this really matter when, at most circuits, they’re competing for separate awards anyway? After all, the MSA and ABkC have been perfectly willing to tolerate a much larger power advantage which Comers enjoyed for more than two years. If it’s become so important for Comers to be the quicker class then I have a simple solution. Stick a few more kilos on the minimum weight limit for WTP and let’s have an end to such nonsense. All this uncertainty may well have affected quantity but the Little Green Man series still promises to produce a high quality field. Nine year old Lloyd Huggins is one contender hoping to make a big impression. Based in Hemel Hempstead, he first started showing an interest in karts as a four year old. He had to wait until the age of 7 before his parents Neil and Sarah actually bought him one but he soon showed an aptitude for racing. He took his ARKS test on a WTP in November 2004 and is now the club champion at Rye House in this class.

Not everything went smoothly last year though. Just before Christmas he was involved in a high speed collision on the Hoddesdon circuit that totally destroyed his kart. Fortunately computer supplier Integrated Technology Co Ltd. and GoldArts fine jewellery makers stepped in with sufficient sponsorship to fund the purchase of a brand new Zip chassis. Their faith in Lloyd was rewarded when he took a fine win at Rye House in February this year. Earlier problems in the heats meant he had to fight his way through from the back. It was a performance that showed lots of grit and determination and ought to prepare him well for the championship season ahead. He’s certainly looking forward to taking part in the Little Green Man Championships, especially as the final round takes place at his favourite circuit, Whilton Mill. “I like this track because it’s nice and twisty,” he proclaims. “I get very nervous before a race and always have to put on my clothes in the same order beforehand. I prepare for each race by watching the one before mine. Amongst all my rivals, the one I most respect is a girl called Jasleen Bhogal who is very quick. Apart from karting, I also like ice skating and bowling but motor racing is what I really want to do. I’d like to be driving a T-Car in five years time and then be racing in F3 by the time I’m 20. As we look ahead to the opening Little Green Man round at Warden Law it will be interesting to see what sort of impact young Mr. Huggins can make on this competition.

Dave Bewley