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BKIA – Industry body assisting karters

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BKIA Chairman Martin Collard

Although the British Kart Industry Association (http://www.bkia.co.uk) is often seen as a trade bloc for the UK’s karting-related companies, as the “Industry” association the organisation is there to benefit everyone in karting. As their website says “the BKIA is a non-regulatory, not for profit, trade association representing the views and interests of its members – the British kart trade. It also aims to help and protect karters and newcomers to the sport”.
Martin Collard, owner of Dartford Karting, has been chairman for the last year, and Paul Gladstone is the administrator.
A new business doesn’t automatically get to join, and will be given a list of requirements, and engine builders will be inspected. Once approved, they must adhere to the BKIA’s comprehensive Code of Conduct which includes selling safe and legal products and supporting chassis and engines for at least the period the product was homologated for plus another three years. The definitive list of members is on the website at http://bit.ly/dxxWMl and includes manufacturers, retailers and associated businesses.
In a sport where many people go into business as the next step after they stop racing, there can be potential for problems when they don’t attend to the boring minutiae that is essential for running a business in a risky sport. For example, to be a member of the BKIA a company must have adequate insurance. It could be needed if a driver is injured on the track due to negligence, or if a team looks after equipment for a customer and it gets stolen, which is unfortunately getting more common. On a similar note, a trader who imports a less common product whose stock is stolen could go out of business if it isn’t covered and leave racers with no source of parts.

The BKIA also works with the MSA Kart Regional Committee to make sure any regulation changes are as cheap and convenient as possible for competitors. For example, the introduction of the new CMR childrens’ helmets was delayed after the BKIA put forward their opinion. The same thing happened when the Blue Book mandated the CIK08 bodywork, which the MSA hadn’t realised was the previous version and was now not available, and discussions are in progress about the ban on chassis protectors (see Noteworthy, p16) without which some chassis won’t last.

Complaints that pricing isn’t consistent, for example between a shop and their trackside outlet, are also investigated, but fortunately no one has had to be expelled due to unfair trading.

Areas that the BKIA is moving into now are group discounts and training sessions. The Association is in the process of negotiating a discount with Premier Inns for kart racers at hotels near circuits on race weekends, and if that is successful look out for more deals. Dannie Pennell of Dadson Motorsport is planning to introduce training to help beginners get started, which will be under the BKIA banner.

The BKIA will also arbitrate in disputes between consumers and traders to find a solution that is fair to both sides. A racer bought a chassis from a well-known British company and it broke, and a replacement was supplied which broke again and the matter went to the BKIA. After some investigation, it was found that the kart had been crashed and it wasn’t as clear a case of a faulty product as it first seemed. After mediation the company offered a discount on a kart and both parties interests were protected. Anyone with a problem with a BKIA member company should call the administrator Paul Gladstone on 01903 241921 or email info@bkia.co.uk.
Helping out racers as outlined above also helps the traders, as they can have confidence that if a commercial relationship breaks down then they won’t get ripped off by someone trying their luck. Lobbying the MSA is a positive too, as although it could be seen as ideal to the industry if everyone is forced to buy an upgraded widget, in reality it is contrary to the long-term health of the sport as many people will lose patience and spend their hard-earned cash elsewhere.

Setting up insurance is less painful too, as the BKIA has affiliated brokers with schemes for the kart trade.

The BKIA promote the sport and will sponsor this year’s KartMania show

JAG and Zip have agreed to require prospective Rotax and Comer sealing agents respectively to be members of the BKIA as any problems with companies they have endorsed can reflect badly on them, so the safeguards are very welcome. Anyone homologating a Cadet chassis with the MSA needs to be a member as well, and major traders like Dartford Karting only give trade prices to members.

If your dealer is a BKIA member, it demonstrates their commitment to the sport, and in fact most members have been in karting for a long time. However, newer companies are very welcome and there are concrete advantages as well as increasing consumer confidence.

The Max Column

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Stock-Rotax-LogoBy George Robinson

The Autosport show in the middle of January was the best representation of Karting at this event for many years.

The BKIA / John Hoyle inspired Karting Pavilion was an impressive structure offering a focussed outlet for sixteen Kart orientated companies. JAG were lucky to bag a prime spot and were busy for the duration of the four day show. The big advantage of the Pavilion was that it was ready to occupy with our pre-ordered ROTAX-JAG backdrop already in place. We had the engines on their new five unit display stand and the wall boards installed in well under an hour.

Leaving at the end was equally simple; I was hacking down the M40 on my way home just forty minutes after the show closed, brilliant! The big advantage of the Pavilion is that it has a modular format so it is easy to add additional units giving more companies the opportunity to exhibit once more at this show and at an affordable price.

The Rotax Driver Academy was launched at Autosport International. This is a new Rotax product that is destined to become a worldwide initiative. The idea is to help all levels of drivers will all levels of ability to enjoy their karting no matter how professionally they wish to approach it.

The idea is to help all levels of drivers will all levels of ability to enjoy their karting no matter how professionally they wish to approach it.

For the complete newcomer there is a basic training day to help with kart and engine set up while giving the customer plenty of seat time and some basic driving instruction thrown in. There will also be days for the equivalent of a car track day but in properly prepared race karts. This is already appealing to small groups of Track Day aficionados who want to hone their skills, have an enjoyable day out and reduce the risk of tearing the corner off their Porsche or Ferrari. I see nothing wrong with attracting a few guys with expendable income into karting!

At the top of the tree the Academy is offering the highest quality coaching for those with their eyes on a career in karting or mainstream motorsport. For this product Terry Fullerton has agreed to be our principal consultant and instructor. We were intending to start the Academy days from Easter onwards, but we have already had to book some for late February and March. The interest generated at the Show and since has been astonishing so it seems that I have added another element of hard labour to my already busy schedule, I hope the long awaited cold winter doesn’t arrive! The Driver Academy will be a travelling circus but based at Bayford Meadows in Kent with guest appearances at Whilton Mill as well.

The new Minimax throttle restrictor is being very well received at all levels so it seems that has really helped the less experienced with their jetting and levelled the playing field in their favour.

The Mojo tyres introduced this time last year have been a very successful step with almost no complaints and very few quality issues indeed. The Senior D2 and the Junior/Mini D1 are providing ideal levels of grip for their respective speeds and are apparently easy to work with from a set up point of view. The Rain tyre is also well received and has good durability. As with all wet tyres they do not stand too long on a drying track but as long as the pressures are not too high the Mojo W2 is doing an excellent job too.

There is another Mojo tyre that is used for the DD2 class which is the equivalent of the CIK medium compound. Some of these are currently being sold to people for leisure use who want the excitement of some extra grip. Softer tyres are particularly good in cold conditions and a damp circuit that with harder tyres would demand the use of wets. I do not know the actual speed difference but I am very tempted to find out in the very near future. I have had a very vivid dream and so I think I had better keep it to myself for the time being!

In last month’s column I got quite stuck in to the “driving standards” issue and voiced some fairly controversial opinions. For the first time in some time I had some real response… great! Also surprising was that this came from drivers, parents and race officials, even more astonishing no one disagreed! I am not going to continue this subject in depth here today but it is definitely worth continuing the debate. This sport of ours is so good when its good but so frustrating when innocent competitors are so frequently passengers to someone else’s accident.

I know that there will be those who think this comparison is nonsense but back in the 1990’s I ran an Indoor circuit. When we took it over there was a constant and expensive amount of accident damage, this not only put our customers at risk but it also cost us a lot of unnecessary money. By relatively simple changes to the circuit and the way the race meetings were managed we managed to cut the repair bills in half in less than three months.

I do not profess to be the greatest authority on circuit design or how race starts are managed but I do believe that the best solutions are usually very simple once the cause is identified and someone has the courage to take decisive action.

One thing is for sure the level of contact at all race meetings is not acceptable and MSA racing is losing customers on a daily basis. Lets grab the nettle and get on with fixing the problem. Please!


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Sixteen members attended the AGM

The British Kart Industry Association held its Annual General Meeting at Motor Sports House on the 26th January with sixteen members attending. Chairman Alan Turney reported that although there had been no significant changes during the last year it was important that the association reflected strength through a united voice. There had been a low level of formal committee meetings and he noted that safety and insurance were matters of continuing concern. He added that customer confidence in dealing with member companies was essential and that the buying public should be made aware of these benefits. Alan reported that 2005 had been particularly difficult for most trade members due to lower entries at club meetings. Paul Gladstone the BKIA Administrator, reported that 2005 finished with 63 member organisations compared with 51 for the previous year, a number that continues to build each successive year. To date twenty applications for 2006 have been received including four new members. The BKIA continues to attract enquiries via the website from overseas regarding equipment supply or for advice and from organisations looking at coming into karting.

The BKIA has strengthened links with other motorsport organisations such as the National Karting Association and the Motorsport Industry Association and as a result was included in the invitation to display at the PRI show in Orlando at the end of last year with an offer of UK Trade & Industry subsidised travel. The steady increase in membership means there are funds to support more advertising and this year the BKIA will invest in promotion together with a new brochure. There have also been discussions with a number of companies of possible insurance schemes to include indemnity cover and also competitor life/injury plus equipment cover for counter sale The BKIA committee had met in October to discuss key issues affecting karting with the main concern remaining the noticeable downturn in club event entries that is also affecting other motorsport disciplines. A forum is being held in the USA to discuss similar concerns. Ever increasing costs are often cited as the main culprit but this is not the only factor to be addressed. The industry is under pressure to cap and even lower prices but the sport also needs to look at its customer needs. Is it too narrow in its appeal? Is the sport that difficult to get into? Are circuits and facilities attractive? Are there too many championships? Do they represent the best shop window for products? What can we all do to promote our sport? Happily 2005 saw a couple of initiatives namely the new ABkC Starting in Karting DVD produced with financial support from the BKIA and the return of the MSA endurance licence to enable an easier entry point.

There is comfort in having a strong CIK championship presence again. Congratulations went not only to the drivers but also to the teams and manufacturers. Paul reminded the meeting of the 50 years celebration in 2006. He also reminded members to include the BKIA logo in all their adverts. It was noted that new homologation activity will start during the year for Cadet and TKM chassis for the 2007 season plus new CIK engine homologations for 125cc Formula A/ICA power units. The 2006 BKIA committee will be Russell Anderson, Nick Barrow, Martin Collard, Clive Freke, Richard Jest, Steve McMahon, Grant Munro, George Robinson, Ron Shone, Steve Tillett and Alan Turney. It was agreed to continue to co-opt as required. Alan Turney was re-elected as Chairman. The subject of Formula TKM chassis homologation was addressed. Ideas for rejuvenating the class had been circulated for feedback and further meetings will take place with interested groups. In support of the proposals it was noted that there had originally been 24 or 25 chassis homologated but this now stood at 12 and with only 4 to 5 manufacturers actively supporting the class. In light of the weakening situation it was now necessary to revisit the class requirements and seek fresh ideas.

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Chairman Alan Turney and Administrator Paul Gladstone

The kart shows were discussed and some thought that there was only room for one good show and that this could perhaps alternate between north and south each year. One suggestion was for a BKIA trade display weekend that met with some enthusiasm. There was support for a proposal that a BKIA pavilion at shows might work for some members. Alan Turney reported that he had attended a meeting with the MSA to look at future strategies for karting and that this had included championships. He asked the meeting for ideas for the next few year’s series. The introduction of the new CIK 125cc classes was discussed. There were mixed views as to the 2007 introduction and the majority view seemed to indicate a preference for 2008. Paul Gladstone was asked to include a request to members to indicate their 2007 preference for 100cc or 125cc Formula A in the next BKIA newsletter.