Tag Archives: British Universities Karting Championship

British Universities Karting Championship – BUKC

Each month we shed some light on a class, club or circuit worth talking about.

British Universities Karting Championship, think of it as University Challenge but for Petrolheads.

With the likes of racing talent including WEC’s Alex Brundle and GP2’s James Calado having graced its ranks over the years, the British Universities Karting Championship helps to bring a novel and universal approach to “ride and drive” karting that attracts student teams from our universities, and continues to thrive.

It started life as the Inter University Karting Championship in 2000, before Will Tew, who now runs it via 3T Racing, got behind the wheel of a kart 14 years ago. He was hooked and was looking to compete for Imperial College London, but came across stumbling blocks preventing him from doing so, which included the use of 4-stroke karts that Imperial were not interested in.

Tew contacted Club100’s John Vigor in 2001, Club100 were running 2-stroke TKM-engined karts. Tew looked to use these karts to attract drivers in a revised format. Word quickly spread and today it feautres around 100 teams from student bodies around the UK taking part.

Tew is looking to further expand on the BUKC and took a big gamble by leaving his IT job at UBS back in 2006 to concentrate his efforts. The BUKC is set to run its inaugural 24 Hour Race this coming July, which already has attracted 40 teams so far. This includes entries that have not yet competed in the championship. He is proud of the fact that the BUKC has done something that no other sport has done when it comes to campus popularity: “We are the only independent national student sport that is broadcasted around the university television networks, beating football and rugby, which is quite an achievement. Our production and broadcast team is already well established, but we look to build on that next year.”

We also spoke at great length about the progression of the drivers in the series, which Tew explained is ‘getting better and better,’ especially with the Rookie championship helping to bolster the ranks. Tew does a great job of continuing to run BUKC alongside his freelance software developing work.

The championship takes place over nine rounds, combining sprint and endurance races at Whilton Mill, Glan-Y-Gors, Buckmore Park and Clay Pigeon, with all drivers needing to complete one of the compulsory four test days the previous Autumn to be eligible to race. Points can determine the winners of each round and race wins do not necessarily guarantee a step on the podium. Four drivers compete in each round, with each of them going for glory in the individual morning sprint races and the best three results are tallied up accordingly to determine their position. For the afternoon endurance races, teams of two will race for an hour, with a driver change and two fuel stops being a mandatory requirement. The weather also can spice up the racing and makes it just as enjoyable, as described by Leeds Metropolitan’s Max Coates, who also has raced in the Ginetta Supercup Championship that supports the BTCC.

“The fact that we are also on slicks all the time makes it super in the wet, but it really does put the skill of the driver at the forefront. I’ve really enjoyed it. The hire karts they use are the fastest of that type that I’ve driven and are brilliant fun.”

Autosport’s Editorial Assistant, Scott Mitchell, who raced for the University of Medway for two years before graduating, talked about how the championship brings the teams together on and off-track: “There’s a lot of camaraderie involved; we had a budget camping trip in Wales and a massively underwhelming night out in Darlington, for example. But you bond with your teammates – and rivals – and it’s a good laugh.

“It’s totally different to what I was used to – being totally in control of setting up the kart, making changes to suit my driving style but I spent two years racing in the BUKC and really enjoyed it.”

The karts used in the championship are run on the Birel N35 chassis, mated to a direct-drive TKM “Extreme” BT82 118cc engine. The power plant reaches its peak of 18bhp at 15,000rpm and reaches the national speed limit in just four and a half seconds, giving meaning to the “seat of the pants” experience that students are looking for.

The Vega RH8 slick tyres are used along with the Freeline Auto R hydraulic brake system, which is maintained by the Club100 mechanics who are on site to help the students race at full throttle whatever the weather. The harmonious work that Tew and Vigor have done has also helped to maintain a minimal increase in costs by under 5 percent since the championship’s inception, which is an achievement in itself.

Ensuring growth through the sustained efforts of what the BUKC has so far achieved is very impressive, especially with what the future holds. The championship has been promoted effectively and marketed online through social media networks, which has helped further that growth that it continues to enjoy with more taking notice. Students around the country can enjoy that adrenaline buzz whilst making new friendships and having fun, and on those points, the BUKC truly delivers.

Karting Magazine would like to thank 3T Racing’s Will Tew, Max Coates and Autosport’s Scott Mitchell for taking time to talk to us about the BUKC.

University Challenge

BUKC2014_Whilton_main (74)The British Universities Karting Championship is starting up for its 2014/15 season. The popular series will again host big grids and competitive racing. Words by Joel Fothergill. The British Universities Karting Championship, commonly known as the BUKC, kicked off the 2015 season with pre-season testing in October, with the qualifiers taking place on the weekend of the 15-16 November. Nearly 700 students from almost 50 universities around the country take part each year in what
is almost certainly the most adrenaline-fuelled student sport around; regularly seeing grids of 36 karts for every race.

The series uses the arrive-and-drive two-stroke kart fleet supplied by Club100, Club100 use the Birel N35 corporate chassis, coupled with Vega RH8 slicks (in all weather!) and the fantastic TKM Extreme engine. Clutch-less running places emphasis on smooth and controlled driving, as one spin means race ruined. But what makes the BUKC so unique? Will Tew, founder and something of a legend amongst the student fraternity, reckons it’s not just the racing.

“It is difficult to sum up how awesome the BUKC is. We use the incredible fleet of Club100 karts and whilst they may not be as quick as a proper race-tuned TKM, the consistency and the equality of the fleet is second to none. We have more than 700 students racing in the championship including many ex-Super One, Stars and MSA club racers. We have huge grids at every race meeting. Our format is designed to maximise the track time and value for money for every driver. The racing is incredibly hard. But what sets it apart for me is the amazing atmosphere and banter between the teams and universities throughout the season; and especially at the annual end of season party.”

Value for money, the fantastic Club100 karts and the chance to race at some of best circuits in the UK, all in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. It’s easy to see the appeal to the students – both seasoned racers and newcomers to the sport alike. There are plenty of seasoned racers as well. The paddock is regularly filled with TonyKart, Birel, Stars, Super One and a menagerie of other kart team and competition regalia; betraying several owner-drivers that have found a new challenge amongst the ranks of the students. One such example is Super One TKM champion Will Van Es. Having raced for Durham University for the last two years, he found competing in the BUKC a unique challenge.

“The great thing about BUKC is how you’ve got a relatively small amount of time to make the most progress through the field that you can,” Will said. “It means that you learn to make an overtaking manoeuvre as soon as possible, which is one of the most important aspects of racecraft.” Even more so in less-favourable conditions. “Driving in the wet on slicks, which we do in the BUKC, is undoubtedly the best way to learn how to drive in the wet, which has meant I’ve always done very well in wet races in MSA karting.”

With over 700 students competing over the course of the season, the friendly rivalries, banter and the traditional end of season party really make the BUKC stand out amongst other karting series in the UK. The 2015 season With the championship expanding rapidly each season, new universities are a regular feature in the paddock. The University of the West of England (thankfully, known as UWE) is one such team, having entered the BUKC for the first time last season, finishing 17th and 49th with their A and B teams.

“This year we aim to build on last year’s steadily improving results by seeing a top 10 finish for our A team. Seb Hutchinson proved to be our star driver, with two wins in the sprint races. Driving alongside Jack Hughes in endurance rounds, the pair made a deadly combination, taking the top spot at Whilton Mill.” said the team’s captain. Huddersfield University, known as HKARTS, shared this optimism. “Last year we finished 10th despite missing some leading drivers.” said their Vice-President, Tom Sansbury. “This year we aim to break the top 5, we definitely think we have the drivers to do so. Our stand out driver would have to be Patryk Szczerbinski. He has experience in Porsche Supercup and GP3 testing so he’s rapid, to say the least.”

Oxford Brookes University narrowly missed out on the championship last season, their A team losing to Coventry University by just 6 points overall. They’re certainly a team to watch this year, having retained the majority of their drivers. “Coventry showed great pace towards the end and so fair play to them, but we will be making amends to that this year.” said their captain James Theodore. With a wide mix of both newcomers and seasoned veterans alike, the BUKC season 2015 is certainly one to watch. The action begins on the 11th of Feb at Buckmore Park.

BUKC Report 2014

Rounds 5 & 6, Glan-Y-Gors, 19th March 2014

The Evo Triangle has legendary status, Glan-Y-Gors is located just off one side of the triangle.

It remained a dry but extremely windy day. Coventry got off to a perfect start with a win for Luke Russell in Race 1 and Race 2 followed a similar pattern which saw Hertfordshire B’s Jono Davis snatch victory from Huddersfield right at the wire. Huddersfield’s form continued into Race 3 as they battled with Leicester’s Sam Snell for victory which he took on the last lap. Race 4 was won by UWE, who have impressed consistently in their first season in the BUKC with a string of victories and high-placed finishes. The fifth sprint saw Durham’s on-form Will Van Es dominate, lapping all the way up to 11th place. UWE’s star driver Sebastian Hutchinson won the final sprint by 14s, with Swansea A and Imperial A following. Title contenders Coventry A had a disastrous race, finishing in 32nd, but the BUKC format worked well as the round was dropped to propel them to their third round win of the year. Southampton A took the second step with a great set of results and UWTSD Swansea A rounded out the podium for Round 5.

In the three one-hour endurance races, Durham A again dominated with their team of Will Van Es and Andrew Dawson lapping the field up to the podium, 2nd placed were Hertfordshire A, finishing 20s ahead of Cardiff A. Race 2 turned into an intense battle for the overall victory as UWE took the chequered flag first – but with a double penalty of 20s for two separate incidents during the race they had to finish at least 20s ahead of 2nd place in order to hold onto their victory. Unfortunately they couldn’t quite manage it, with the penalty dropping them off the podium to 5th to stop UWE securing a hat-trick of race wins. Leicester’s Team Sam took the victory with title-defending Hertfordshire A and Loughborough A taking the remaining two steps of the podium. The final race of the day saw Coventry run out clear victors after romping 28 places up the field in the first half of the race to drive away from the field. Their 12s lead was enough to secure them the win from an on-form UWTSD Swansea A and last year’s runners up Southampton A. Coventry’s win in the final race of the day ensured that they secured a vital 2nd place finish overall in Round 6, with Hertfordshire A taking the overall victory and UWTSD Swansea A placing 3rd. With Oxford Brookes finishing down in 5th this meant for the first time this year that Coventry A took the lead of the championship. With just a 5 point advantage this means the title will be decided at the final race of the year at Clay Pigeon.

 

British Universities Karting Championship – Rounds 1 & 2

Rounds 1 & 2: Buckmore Park, 12th Feb 2014

It’s quite strange, standing behind the counter and watching the sea of half asleep students filing into the Cafe at the crack of dawn to dose up on coffee, Red Bull and a full english. Not your stereotypical pre-race breakfast. It’s relatively unlikely that you’ll see Sebastian Vettel tucking into a plate of Currywurst an hour before hopping into the ‚ÄòBull to begin his title defence.

Complete with its very own microclimate, Buckmore Park is a permanent fixture on the BUKC calendar, and a firm favourite of many drivers competing in the championship. It’s a fast, tight and twisty circuit, with little room for mistakes and even less for overtaking. In the dry it is a tricky circuit to race on, but today it was raining. The whole of England was drenched and Buckmore Park was no exception.

Highlights of the six morning Sprint races included David Pittard of Brunel A pulling out 17s to win the first race of the day and a very tight finish in the third race where Southampton A, Oxford Brookes A and Coventry A all finished within a couple of seconds. Not forgetting international star and Leicester student Sam Snell’s 17 place gain to give his Uni their first ever BUKC win.

A 3rd place result in the last race meant that without winning a single race in the morning, Oxford Brookes took overall victory in the first round of the 2014 season, with reigning champions Hertfordshire A in 2nd place, followed by Oxford A who claimed a superb set of results grabbing them 3rd place.

So with the conclusion of the morning sprint races and after a short kart-fettling break for the Club 100 staff the action progressed into the afternoon’s three one-hour endurance races. Yes, it was still raining. The downpour even saw BUKC gaffer Will Tew pitching in to try and clear the substantial lake that was forming on the start/finish line, but with seemingly little effect.

Will Van Es and Andrew Dawson of Durham A won the first Enduro by 49s, with Will showing off at the end, spinning, and having to be rescued! UWTSD Swansea A took race 2 despite a 10s penalty for jumping the start.

With a 2nd place finish in the final race, Oxford Brookes cemented their second round win of the day, meaning that having also won their qualifier they are currently unbeaten in the 2014 championship. Brunel A finished in 2nd place and Cardiff A a brilliant 3rd.

Overall this meant that, of course, Oxford Brookes head the board after their superb performance – with reigning champions Hertfordshire A a close second, and Southampton A in 3rd. It’s still early doors however, and Brookes’ five point championship lead is sure to look under threat at the next race day in a few weeks time.

Results:

Sprint winners. Brunel A, Medway A, Southampton A, Leicester A, Cambridge A, Hertfordshire A

Endurance winners: Durham A, UWTSD Swansea A, Hertfordshire A