The X Factor – Parilla X30

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Current MSA regulations prevent any national championships for the Parilla X30 classes being run until 2017. Despite this restriction, however, X30 sales have been healthy, with over 350 motors sold in 2014.

The history of this Company dates back to 1946 when Giovanni Parrilla started building 250cc motorcycles. Cesare Bossaglia joined him in 1956 and four years later he designed the Parilla V11 rotary valve engine specifically for karts. Bruno Grana was Giovanni’s sales manager and he arranged for these motors to be exported under the name Saetta. Giovanni sold his Parilla factory in 1961 but retained the Saetta brand name. By this stage both Grana and Bossaglia had left to set up the new GBC Company along with Vito Consiglio. GBC received backing from Aspes and produced Komet engines. In 1968, with Grana now firmly in control, the Company, renamed itself IAME (Italian American Motor Engineering) and promptly added Parilla to its investment portfolio. Former bobsleigh racer called Nino Rovelli began producing Sirio karts and engines shortly after his son Felice won the 1974 Junior World Cup at Rye House. Felice used them to good effect by being crowned the 1976 World Karting Champion and repeated his success 12 months later. He retired from racing and Nino sold out his karting interests to Grana’s IAME Company.

A lengthy legal battle finally resulted in Nino winning $560million compensation from IMI Bank for liquidating his Chemical Company, leading to allegations that the judges were bribed. Nino’s sons Felice and Oscar both proved to be successful businessmen too. After Bruno Grana died in 2005 Oscar bought IAME outright. He also acquired Vega tyres and added the “Komet” label. Thus the story has moved almost a full circle.The first CIK world championships were held in 1964 and Guido Sala won on a Parilla powered Tecnokart. Since then IAME engines have won no less than 28 world titles. Today 55 IAME employees produce more than 6,000 engines. The X30 concept took off nine years ago. It was derived from the 125cc Parilla Leopard engine as used over here in Formula Blue. Junior and Senior X30 classes are currently being run in 16 different countries including America, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland and Japan.

Earlier this year it was introduced into Britain and the importer, JM Racing, claims that support is growing every month.In contrast to the KF classes that tried to operate from the top downwards, IAME has adopted a policy of establishing strong support at grass roots level before organising international style competitions. Last year, though, the X30 International took place in Lyon and attracted 300 competitors. In May this year a Europa Cup event was held at Mariembourg supported by more than 200 drivers. The 2014 International is being held at Le Mans in October and, just two days after entries opened, the ceiling of 300 was reached. This figure includes 25 British drivers who, of course, are denied the opportunity to compete in X30 championships back at home. At last month’s final S1 round for MSA categories, Junior and Senior X30 classes appeared on the programme. Although there was no championship at stake here, eighteen juniors and sixteen seniors turned out.

In KGP, where there was actually an ABkC title up for grabs, just eight drivers bothered to show. Not far away at Wombwell that weekend fifteen X30 competitors were taking part in a club race. At Little Green Man rounds supporting races have been held for both X30 classes. Typically these have attracted up to twenty senior drivers and almost thirty juniors. These figures are hardly earth shattering, but they do reflect growing support for a category of racing that is still in its infancy over here.Paul Fletcher is an enthusiastic supporter. “I liked the concept of KGP, but realistically it won’’t attract sufficient entries in 2015 and, for those of us who prefer this type of racing that only leaves X30 as a viable option,” Paul insists. “The Parilla motor is very strong and quite simple to use. There’s also a big saving on tyre wear. We’ve had two hours running with the Komet tyres and then changed to a new set. Neither Mark (Litchfield) nor Oliver (Hodgson) was able to improve their lap times on new tyres by more than hundredths of a second. I think that will have massive appeal to the club racer operating on a relatively low budget.”

At PF Litchfield successfully defended his 2013 KGP title and also managed to win the X30 support race. “I wouldn’t say that the racing in X30 is more enjoyable than KGP, but it’s definitely attracting greater numbers,” he claimed. “Around this circuit KGP is almost a full second per lap quicker, but at least half of that differential can be attributed to the tyres.” Speed was something that occupied Oliver Hodgson’s mind, also. “If there’s improvement I’d like to see being made in X30 it’s more engine power,” Oliver suggested. “Currently the X30 achieves 16,000 rpm whereas a KGP motor gives you an additional 1,000 revs and you can certainly feel the difference. Other than that, it’s a good class and I’m enjoying the racing.”Jim Mills, for JM Racing, insists that the lower revving motor offers greater reliability, and therefore reduced maintenance costs. “I honestly believe that sealed engine classes have had their day in the sun,” he says emphatically. “Instead of making things more equal and keeping costs down, the reverse has actually applied. Admittedly most of our customers employ the services of an engine builder, but they still like to whip off the head occasionally and take a peep. IAME has kept things nice and simple for those who want to carry out their own maintenance. The carburettor is easy to set and, above all else, the motor keeps on going, just as you’d expect from a firm with IAME’s reputation.

Competitors can get in their karts with full confidence that the X30 is going to fire up immediately. The durability of Komet tyres is another very significant cost saving factor.”Paul Carr became involved in karting at almost the same time as Bruno Grana established IAME. He broadly agrees with Jim’s assessment. “I think the X30 has arrived at a very appropriate moment and it will become increasingly popular as time goes on,” he acknowledges. “The only thing that might spoil it is if we see one or two individuals start to dominate the class at national level. That would be bad for all concerned.” Another karting veteran, Dave Boyce, doesn’t think that such a scenario is likely. “IAME has been around for an awfully long time and know how to build quality racing engines that are generally equal,” he maintains. “You can see that we’ve got very close racing as a result. It would be unusual for any group of drivers to establish a significant advantage”.“It’s a proper class with proper racing and proper engines,” enthuses Dave Litchfield who has been running a team of drivers for more than 20 years. For most of this period he has concentrated on TKM and acknowledges that X30 does pose a threat to the Tal-ko concern. “Right now it’s mainly former KGP and TKM drivers who are moving over, but I’m sure that X30 will attract an increasing number of Rotax runners in future,” says Dave. “We’ve found that the motors tend to be quicker on their 2nd piston once everything has been freed up. After that, you could take a dozen engines without finding as much as one tenth of a second between them all.

The winner for me is that there’s nothing you can really do to make them go quicker, apart from altering the jet settings and exhaust length. It means that, with a bit of mechanical nous, any lad and dad outfit should be competitive. Maybe that’s bad news for a team owner like me, but it’s good for the sport as a whole and might encourage more people to come in.”Right now it’s difficult to find anyone who has a bad word to say about X30s. In 2015, we’ll discover whether warm words can be converted into large grids that might truly give this class the X factor.