“I’m not prepared to defend what I now consider to be the indefensible.” says Paul Fletcher, owner of PF International
In 1994 he fulfilled a long held ambition to own his own kart track. Since then, the PF International circuit has gained an enviable reputation as one of Europe’s finest karting venues. He is hugely respected both at home and abroad so that his views carry a certain gravitas.
“During my time there have been numerous attempts to launch an alternative controlling body for karting, but I’ve always strongly defended the MSA and its predecessor the RAC from such attacks,” Paul insists. “Sadly, that is no longer the case and I’m not prepared to defend what I now consider to be the indefensible. There needs to be a change of attitude down at Motor Sports House otherwise I’m concerned for the future of a sport I’ve loved for more than half a century. There’s already some talk about setting up a breakaway organisation and I might even consider doing the unthinkable by supporting it.”
One ruling in particular that has upset Paul is the change in age limits that will allow 15 year old drivers to race Formula 4 cars in 2015. “I know that drivers as young as 14 have been able to race in Ginetta and Formula BMW for a number of years,” Paul acknowledges. “I certainly didn’t agree with that, but it was justified on the grounds that they were junior classes. Formula 4 is a senior category. The MSA has repeatedly refused to drop the age limits for senior kart classes so that they are in line with the rest of Europe. What sort of muddled thinking is it that allows someone to race cars before they are old enough to compete in senior karting events?”
He is also worried about the costs now associated with MSA karting. “Some of them would be hard to control but others are totally unnecessary,” Paul maintained. “A case in point is the requirement for annual medicals that all seniors have to undergo. Along with the cost of your licence it means that you’ve coughed up around £400 before a wheel has even been turned and that certainly needs to be looked at.”
Paul’s views are shared by other senior figures who feel that the MSA no longer represents karting’s best interests. In 2015 Formula Kart Stars is being run as a non- MSA Series and the same applies to Easykart. Even a traditional circuit like Fulbeck has started to run events outside MSA control with favourable results on the Balance Sheet. That could well establish a trend elsewhere in the country. Several years ago the idea of setting up a rival body was, indeed, unthinkable. Today it looks a possibility. Who knows, tomorrow, the idea could become a reality.
IS HISTORY ABOUT TO REPEAT ITSELF?
It was back in November 2003 when the MSA last faced a serious challenge to its authority. At the ABkC Annual General Meeting, Whilton Mill Kart Club put forward a motion of no confidence in the MSA’s ability to conduct affairs on behalf of British karting. The outgoing ABkC chairman Steve Chapman claimed that karting was often overlooked by our governing body. What had particularly annoyed him was a decision to dispense with the Battenberg Flag without any prior consultation. Steve Clayton added that karting was being run by car people rather than karters.
Chapman’s replacement as ABkC chairman, Russell Anderson successfully proposed that a case should be prepared and presented to the MSA Development Director Bruce Goddard. If this failed, then detailed plans for a breakaway body could then be considered. Within a couple of months the MSA had agreed to reinstate the Battenberg Flag. We understand that the ABkC has adopted similar tactics this time around by presenting a lengthy dossier to Motor Sports House. Paul Fletcher’s statement appears to have been made at an opportune moment.