By: George Robinson
Egypt may seem an unusual choice for a World Finals venue, but a brand new circuit and a potentially warm climate in January proved to be the necessary ingredients for a very successful race meeting, even if the British drivers did manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Mike Hayden’s full report appears elsewhere in this issue so I do not want to reiterate what has already been very adequately covered.
However, a few words from the pits and Parc Ferme might be of interest. All the Brits and Ireland’s Noel Brennan gave very good accounts of themselves. Noel proved his ability having to change to an unfamiliar chassis at the last moment. Tristram Oman had a good time but his right hand man Nigel was concerned from an early stage as to how things would go in the Final and knew that Tris needed an early break from pole to run away and hide from the other quick guys. As it turned out the hugely experienced Van Der Ende pulled off a professional foul at the first corner, something perhaps not expected since he had driven with tact and decorum up until then. Having seen Van Der Ende in 100cc racing I was not surprised to see him in the thick of it, otherwise it would have been proof of a leopard changing its spots. The Juniors arrived to have their identical CRG karts distributed to them, the Rotax guys with the CRG mechanics had worked late into the night to assemble these karts into running condition. As soon as they were handed over, drivers and mechanics set about taking them to bits again, I saw at least two karts almost down to the bare frame. It was an impressive sight to see a grid of new karts in exactly the same livery.
Luck again played an unfortunate hand in the fortunes of our two drivers, either certainly had the pace to take away the 1st prize. Chris Hawes, our over 35 year old entry certainly deserves some recognition for his efforts. Having run well in unofficial practice he had a less than satisfactory time trial leaving him a lot to do in the heats. In spite of this Chris qualified 14th for the Final and looked good for at least a podium in the senior citizens class until a brush with another competitor tore out a bead retainer and his race was run. Of special interest here is that not only has Chris relatively little MAX
experience but he was certainly the only competitor to have fabricated his own chassis. Chris is the fabricator/welder for all Dartford Select karts and I would challenge anyone to show me a chassis that is better finished. The wind of change is blowing through Dartford Karting under the new leadership of Martin Collard and both trade and public are set to benefit from a new level of service built on the ideals Jim Cruttenden founded the company on over 20 years ago.
It was good to catch up with the Rotax team in Egypt and hear of some of the new developments taking place. Any time now there will be new type connecting rods available with a new 16 roller big end bearing. The new bearing has loose rollers where the old type was captive. This does not affect the running of the bearing and just needs a little more care on assembly. All service agents will be used to this type of bearing in any case because the 100cc type from Thompson has 15 loose rollers. There will also be a new type main bearing introduced with a high quality plastic cage. The reason for this is that while the nitrided steel cage bearing has been very successful, if the rivets should fail then further engine damage can result. There have only been a handful of failures and fortunately most have not caused any serious damage but the factory had the opportunity to improve the quality of the bearings. New delivery engines will now be coming through with these new components fitted. There was also much talk in Egypt about the RM1 and we will soon be hosting some free test days in this adrenaline machine.
The press enjoyed the chance to drive the RM1 and also had the opportunity to try some new tyres Rotax are developing in partnership with Austrian manufacturer Heidenau with a long term view that they may ultimately replace the Bridgestone YGK as the MAX Challenge tyre. There are no plans to introduce them here and Vega tyres in all our classes will continue. There have been no complaints about our choice of Senior or Junior tyres and their contract is not up until 2006. The Heidenau tyres, branded Mo-Jo, are very similar in performance to the YGK and return the same, or slightly faster, lap times. I had a very brief run on both the Mo-Jo and Bridgestone rubber and felt that the grip was very similar. The Mo-Jo was especially crisp on turn in and had a good balance through the corner. If anything the tyre lacked feel at the limit of its adhesion at the rear.
The useful by product was an extremely free running exit from the corners, the modern word is release! Heidenau will be testing exhaustively over the coming year to perfect the product to suit the MAX Challenge and the RM1. So far I have to say that they seem to be doing a fantastic job. In the areas of the world where the RM1 has sold in quantity they are now starting to race seriously and Rotax have responded by introducing a braking system upgrade kit
First in the World for 44 years
including floating rear discs and a new cintered brake pad material that helps to keep the brakes cool under race conditions. In Egypt we had a kart equipped with the original type brakes and another with the upgrade. Quite honestly I could not tell the difference in performance but it became clear the new type was running substantially cooler after only a handful of laps. It follows therefore that given more laps the new type would have an advantage and are much less likely to drag due to their floating discs. A member of the Rotax Kart Centre staff has made a fantastic tool for changing the main jet, basically a tube catches the fuel that would otherwise be spilt and has a very simple but effective jet holder on the other end.
I hope it can be produced and am sure they would sell very well. A cautionary tale from Andy Cox. At the end of a day’s racing a customer of his packed his kit away, including taking the battery off the kart and putting it in his tool box. On the way home the battery must have arced across the terminals and caused a fire in the back of the van. Fortunately not too much damage was done apart from a blackened toolbox drawer. It is a lesson well learnt nevertheless and the consequences could have been far more serious. If possible keep the battery in a box with the terminals well insulated, a strip of tank tape usually does the job. Apart from the fire risk, any dead short across the terminals will either destroy the battery immediately or seriously compromise its life expectancy. The MAX battery is a sealed lead acid type and does have a shelf life.
The standard battery charger supplied with the engines is adequate if used between meetings and left to replenish the battery for a long period. The standard charger will continue to trickle charge the battery even after the LED has turned to green and can be left switched on for at least five hours in this condition. If you are tempted to get a bigger charger to improve the speed and quality of charge beware that the charger must have an automatic cut off facility to avoid an over charge. This is essential with a sealed lead acid battery where an over charge will almost certainly destroy the battery and can be dangerous. A date for your diary. There is to be a MAX only race meeting at Clay Pigeon on the 28/29th February. Also, Forest Edge KC have been working very hard on their new venue at Barton Stacey. Reports suggest the track will be great fun on a MAX and since these have been their most popular classes, the club anticipates plenty of support and a good future for their new circuit.
The World Finals next year will be in Lanzarote. I know the British have the reputation for being the perfect gentlemen abroad but someone has to stop the South Africans winning it again. So let’s have a really strong entry for the qualifiers and go out there to give them a good hiding!