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New Birel ART package capable of winning CIK-FIA European KZ Championship

Jennox Lamb chassis preparationJordon Lennox-Lamb says the new Birel ART package can fight for victories in this year’s CIK-FIA European KZ Championship.

The 23-year-old Brit, who switched from the works CRG squad to the new Birel ART tie-up over the Winter, began the season in style by winning the Rotax DD2 class title of the Florida Winter Tour in the United States, last month.

Lennox-Lamb believes the team can now push on to score European wins after switching its focus from its American commitments.

“The brand is proven in Rotax, it’s very competitive in all classes, not just in DD2,” he said. “In KZ, it’s more about the fine tuning. There has been more attention focused on the USA recently. Now that is all complete, we need to make sure that the focus moves on to the European racing.”

Despite scoring numerous titles, including the 2012 KZ2 World Cup, Lennox-Lamb has yet to win a European crown in any KZ class.

“The European KZ season is spread out throughout the season, so we will need a month or two before we can say if we can go for the title,” he said. “The first target is a podium this weekend, and then we’ll be in a good position to push on from there.”

Lennox-Lamb says the professionalism of the Birel ART team has helped him make the quick transition and to take early wins.

“The diameter of the tubing of CRG chassis is 20mm, whereas at Birel ART it’s 30mm,” he said. “That help the kart to be very user-friendly out of the box. It’s much like a Tony Kart in KF in that way. As a professional driver, that enables me to focus on refining the finer details of the kart.

“Birel ART has a more professional attitude, it’s more like a formula outfit, focusing on each driver as a team and on data. Whereas at CRG, it was more traditional, and performance was more left to the driver and mechanic.”

Lennox-Lamb has targeted defending world KZ champion Marco Ardigo as a benchmark this season.

“I’ve always looked up to Marco since my childhood,” Lennox-Lamb said. “Now that I’m racing against him, I like to hunt him down.”

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Vega Factory Tour

1In the mid-1970s a well known and successful Italian industrialist produced a tyre for 100cc karts called the Four Star. I believe I am correct in saying that the fronts were only made available to his racing son and I know that I am right in saying that a pair of Four Star rears in those days cost about the same as a full set of tyres may cost today! However, these tyres were a must have performance aid and those who needed them managed to afford them and were glad to do so. Their life expectancy was somewhere in the region of 40 laps, but the grip level was something that most people had never experienced before. The name of this successful industrialist was Rovelli, his son Felice won the World Championships in 1976 (using the Four Star tyres) and 1977. The family also owned the mighty Sirio brand of kart engines, a name that was later absorbed within the IAME range of products. Four Star tyres were also sometimes known as Sirio. These tyres were the forerunners of the Vega brand which started in production in 1984 at Lainate just north of Milan in the northern industrial heartland of Italy. Sergio Mantese was a tyre technology expert working for Pirelli and was excited by the prospect of manufacturing his own products specifically for the karting industry. The production of tyres cannot be compared to the engineered components or finished items from any other industry.

To draw a comparison to the manufacture of pasta might have some parallels but it must not detract from the complexity of producing a tyre that has the required level of quality to be used for racing at the height of competition. Vega moved to their existing factory at Saronno ten years ago. Drawing on their extensive experience they were able to purpose build the production areas to suit their extraordinary requirements. Producing kart tyres is not an industry that has many members, I hazard a guess at no more than ten in the world. Therefore it is not possible to go to an engineering exhibition and take your pick of the requisite machinery. For this reason Vega have their own design engineer who is responsible for the continuous development and maintenance of their plant. The first phase of the production involves the mixing of the tread compound. For every 1000kgs of tread compound there can be up to 40 ingredients, these are called prime materials. Vega have their own on-site laboratory with staff permanently confirming the consistency of these prime materials. As each prime material is chosen it is measured to the nearest gram as part of the make up of 1000kgs of compound. The mix is then monitored for temperature and is then remixed twice more before being extruded into the finished article. The compound is measured for thickness at regular intervals and a sample is taken every 30cms.

These samples are coded and sent to the laboratory where they are checked for consistency. Despite the ingredients in tyre production being dirty, black, volatile and jam packed with toxins, the Vega factory is clean, quiet and dust free. Their air extraction, filtration and conditioning systems are not just about the modern requirements of health and safety, they are fundamental to the production of high quality kart tyres. Following the production of the compound it is then passed through a complex piece of machinery that converts it into a tread, ready to be laid up onto the tyre carcass. The tyre tread is instantly recognisable, every different compound is colour coded along its whole length and the tread depth is also controlled to 0.1mm or 4 “thou” in old money! This depth control is applied along its length as well as across the width. There are constant visual and measured quality control checks. A different rubber compound is used for the sidewalls and for the laminated textile carcass. The bead of the tyre is made from rolling plated steel wires and embedding them in rubber as they are turned, again using a unique machine. The bead is eventually fitted over the edge of the sidewall material and a final piece of rubber compound is added to complete the airtight seal where the tyre meets the wheel rim. The extruded tread is cut using an ultrasonic blade to produce such an accurate cut that the join cannot be found once the tyre assembly is complete. The ultrasonic blade has to be cooled by an air jet to stop the two pieces of rubber fusing back together immediately. The various components of the tyre are assembled with the help of lasers to ensure that any risk of a misalignment is eliminated.

Badges are added at the vulcanisation stage

The assembled tyre is then taken through into the vulcanising shop where nine vulcanising machines work round the clock. They are gas heated and require some hours to reach operating temperatures, each has its own air extraction system. Two men operate the nine machines. It is at the point of vulcanisation that the tyre takes on its final form. All writing on the sidewalls, the “Vega” badge and any specialist badge such as “JAG” or “GB” is also added at vulcanisation. The tread on wet tyres is moulded at this time as well. Vulcanising takes 10 to 12 minutes per tyre and as such has to be the most time consuming element of the production of each single tyre. The tyres are then racked to cool before going for final quality inspection, wrapping, boxing, storage and despatch. Paulo Mantese, son of the founder, who showed us round the factory, was very candid about the production of tyres. To quote his own words “a tyre is a living thing”. The rubber is a natural product and can therefore be affected by heat, cold, humidity and light. There is a 2% quality failure rate on the production of Vega tyres and this is believed to be one of the lowest wastage rates in the world and something which all members of staff are constantly striving to reduce. Many of these quality rejects are only cosmetic damage that would not affect the performance of the tyre, however they are never allowed out onto the open market. Vega has another production facility at Ales in Southern France. Vega France do not produce any tyre compound, it is all produced at the main factory at Saronno in Italy. Vega France produces most of the economy class tyres and those for the French market.

Paulo Mantese (left) and George Robinson. The machine in the background wraps the tyres in cellophane

The factory in France has lower running costs and is well placed to service the domestic French market. Vega currently produce 600,000 tyres a year, this is slightly under maximum capacity. Using their existing plant and machinery it would be possible to increase production up to a maximum of 850,000 with the simple addition of a few more personnel. Their world markets are developing. Their home market, Italy, is stable at approximately 30% of production. The rest of Europe, predominantly France, Germany and the UK accounts for another 30%. The rest of the world takes care of the balance of 40%. A significant number of tyres go to Australia and New Zealand while the biggest developing market is America. It seems that any requirement for a hike in production is likely to be driven by a greater demand from the USA. Interestingly, wet tyres only form 5% of the total production. I would have been way off beam if you had asked me that one! Vega accept that the majority of their sales come from the National classes racing all over the world, however they do consider the need to be at the top of International competition to be essential to the future of the company. It is the evolution and the need to be abreast of the very latest technology that will keep them at the top of the game alongside the other big players in this very specialised niche industry. Paulo’s brother Stefano is heavily involved with the testing of tyres and spends much of his time at circuits with the world’s top drivers and teams. There is a constant need to progress and evolve the product range. The future TAG classes will have more torque and potentially more horsepower than the existing 100cc classes. Vega sees this as another potentially evolutionary change to the requirements of the tyre. They talk about elasticity of the carcass, mechanical grip and lateral grip.

The ways in which engines perform clearly have a major effect on the type of tyre production chosen for each power level. Although I have always said that each class should have a tyre that has the correct window of grip level to suit its power and weight, this statement, while correct, is only scratching the surface of the complexity of the ideal production for each specific purpose. Vega are producing the tyres for the ICA and JICA classes at European and World Championship level this year having won the contract from the CIK. These contracts are not won easily. It is a testament to the longterm quality and consistency of the product that has earned them this prestige. Vega has won five World Championship titles and countless National titles all over the world. Alex Zanardi is the spiritual son of Vega having won on their product when he was at the top of the karting game in the 1980s. Vega employs 50 people. In Saronno they carry out the whole tyre production process including design and development of machinery. The main laboratory is at Saronno also, as is their research and development department. Ales in France take finished material from Saronno and completes tyre assembly, vulcanisation and distribution of their production. It cannot and should not remain a secret that tyres are a living breathing thing that have a very complex construction based around a natural product, rubber. Rubber comes from trees and Vega buys their rubber from all over the world. Each tyre compound is always produced from rubber from the same source and each batch of product received at Saronno is laboratory checked for consistency against the previous delivery. The thoroughly modern production methods employed at Vega are now producing some of the best karting tyres in the world. The performance and durability of the tyres now in use here in the UK could never have been achieved ten years ago and it is no longer necessarily true that a new set of tyres will be faster than a lightly used set. My visit was a real eye opener, I hope this article has opened your eyes too to the complex world of tyres.

George Robinson

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Track Test: Maranello RS7

1Maranello was a relatively new name on the karting block when Paul Ibbotson and his Botech racing team started to distribute it in the UK back in 2003. However the marque was already becoming well known through the expert exploits of its star driver Ben Hanley who has since gone on to make a name for himself in single seaters and has just recently been signed to the Renault Driver Development programme. While Ben raced for Maranello they shared international success in karting and became one of the few who were feared as a David among the Goliaths of the sport. Meanwhile out in the western fringes of commuterland Steve Green, a 2long term karting enthusiast, was considering an offer for his Audi dealerships, Aston Green. Along the way Steve had employed former British kart champion Fraser Sheader who had learnt the ropes through the various departments of a busy motor dealership. Gradually the foundations were being laid, deliberately I suspect, for the day when an opportunity arose for a concession to import a blue chip karting brand into the UK. Steve Green came to a deal to sell the Audi franchises and founded Heritage TVR in Henley-on-Thames.

Steve was soon able to entice Fraser to rejoin him in this new venture, in the knowledge that talks were in hand to take over the Maranello kart distribution from Paul Ibbotson. Paul was by now heavily involved with the management of Ben Hanley following his move into car racing and at the end of 2005 the take over was complete. Steve does go back some way in karting having been a Deavinsons customer back in the mid 1970s when he campaigned a Sprint/Parilla TT27 at Rye House and Tilbury. Steve also raced a Senior MAX much more recently and now enjoys running his son Elliot at club level competition. This enthusiastic involvement in the grass roots of the sport is not to be allowed to distract the new company from taking on the best at national and international level. Jason Parrott has been signed as official team driver and brings with him invaluable support from Peter Morling of the Gerald White Group. Peter is another passionate enthusiast for this sport of ours and races in Formula A himself. As a natural by-product of the agreement with Jason Parrott comes the most famous Fish Fryer in Peterborough himself, Tim, Jason’s father. 3Tim, a multiple European and World Champion in Superkarts now manages several drivers under the Tim Parrott Motorsport awning at most major events in the UK. Many if not all of these will in future be Maranello mounted. The feedback from the factory via Fraser and Jason will no doubt be invaluable.

Ian Hawkins from Hawksport is another team manager to throw his lot in with the Maranello brand. Darron Gibbs who was already running the talented Devon Modell on Maranello karts last year will continue to do so for 2006. In Northern Ireland Gordon Duncan will promote the brand and already has a number of the faster pedallers in the region on board. Jonny Maconald from Atlantic Racing will cover Scotland, Jonny has a near neighbour named Bryce Wilson who was seen and heard at the Autosport show. Bryce was a very fast and charismatic driver back in the 1970s and 80s and he is seriously talking about getting back in a kart for the good of his health! I saw that the wild man was a little older and wiser but when the conversation comes round to racing a far away look comes into the eyes and you know there is still the steel core of the ‘Braveheart’ running just below the surface. Jonny be careful! That therefore is the infrastructure surrounding this new venture, new in the sense that the company and the people are new but they are working with a well proven product. The first production model Maranello was known as the ‘30-32’ and this was followed by the RS1. There have been various evolutions since and the new homologated model is the RS7, also a ‘30-32’ construction. There is no shortage of expertise when fabricating the chassis as this work is entrusted to CRG and their customary quality of workmanship is immediately evident.

The 50mm axle is supported in three 80mm outside diameter bearings within cassette housings that are bolted to rings of steel

Gone are the days when MIG welding was the cheap and fast option and the welds on this frame are neat enough to be gas. I don’t know whether the factory are using robotic welders, if so they are very good indeed and if not then hats off to Guiseppi! The chassis design and development are down to Maranello and so is the outsourcing of accessories. I have to say that many do have the look of CRG about them and indeed this may have been the original source of many of the anodised alloy components. However many parts are now branded Maranello and I understand the factory is now interested in the autonomy of developing their own bespoke accessory range. The RS7 has removable front and rear torsion bars, the front one is often used and the rear one, seldom. There is also a removable fourth rail on the left side of the seat. This may come into its own as the weather and grip increases. The longitudinal rails of the RS7 are 30mm and the cross rails 32mm. This makes for a kart with lots of natural grip that remains easy to drive. For so many people the ability to go consistently fast is so much about confidence. The kingpin arrangement is thoroughly modern, 10mm bolts with four bearings in the stubs and an eight position castor/camber adjuster make this a very strong marketing point for the kart as it comes as standard. The stub axles are not the new fashioned 25mm shafts but a beefed up version of the 17mm variety.

A 1050mm wheelbase is bigger than most

The stub axle material is very hard indeed and I believe that this is the only area of the kart that features TIG welding. The axle is the usual 50mm that comes in a variety of stiffnesses and torsional rigidities. Until the driver can really extract the very best from himself and his equipment it is probably better to stick to the standard set-up before embarking on the axle-changing virus that seems to infect some camps from time to time. Maranello have chosen to develop their kart so that it will perform well under most conditions using the axle as supplied. It is supported in three 80mm outside diameter bearings within cassette housings. The axle has to be passed through the chassis as the bearing housings are bolted to a ring of steel with four bolts spread evenly around the housings. This I understand is one of the secrets of the success of this chassis and is a design feature that was first used by Wade Cunningham when he won the World Championships on a CRG in 2003. There are a couple of unusual elements to the Maranello kart. The chassis has a 1050mm wheelbase, the norm used to be 1040mm although some other manufacturers are also stretching them a bit. The brake is also a new design with a floating disc and a self-adjusting mechanism. I have to say that I was a little sceptical at first but the brake performed faultlessly on both chassis I tested, easy to feel and break the grip on the brake, what more do you need? For the track test we met up with the team at a now familiar haunt, Whilton Mill. The weather was fine if very cold but as it was during a prolonged dry spell in February, there was no hint of damp on the circuit.

Fraser (front) and Jason improved the set-up with every change and also improved George’s driving

We were there after the track had been extensively used for two days, by Club 100 on the Tuesday and for an open test day on the Wednesday. There were two almost new karts to be played with and my only concern was the seat. Stationary in the pits it all felt fine but I did have my concerns. As soon as I was out on the circuit having gathered a bit of speed I was slithering about the thing like a fat snake in a barrel. The boys fitted various bits of padding to try to get me under control with limited success until they introduced the ‘piece de resistance’ a substantial knoll between me and the petrol tank. Please allow your imagination a moment to picture this. An immediate improvement in lap times and smiles all round. Considering that we were running a well used set of tyres the MAX powered kart performed really well. It had plenty of grip without compromising the corner exit speed. The engine felt very strong indeed. We tried a logical set of changes to set-up and did nothing but go better and better. There was one other driver there, a potential customer, who also improved as the day went on. Fraser and Jason were not only very attentive from a mechanical point of view, they also sorted out a couple of corners for me, improving my driving to the tune of about 3/10ths of a second. Thanks lads, pity it’s about thirty years too late! We ran the MAX powered kart for the majority of the day, saving the other one with an ICA powerplant as a treat for last.

The brake is a new design with floating disc and self-adjusting mechanism

This was more than just a fun thing to do. Maranello also run this model kart in all the 100cc international races, so there is more than a little relevance to putting in a few laps with Parilla power. Simon Wright had kindly lent a new Reed-Top engine for us to try, Jason completed the running in and then it was my turn. Run, jump and it goes! No problem so far. Don’t spin or they will all be watching the first G.R. self start for some years. Luckily after just a few corners it all seemed quite easy, the kart in 100cc form was just as predictable and forgiving as it was with a MAX on board. I really enjoyed my few laps back in a 100cc kart again. What a shame that the end seems to be in sight for this great and historic form of racing. 100cc karting was described by Ayrton Senna as “the purest form of motorsport in the world”. I believe that a good day was had by all. The potential customer bought one so that cannot be bad. I had a great time thanks to Steve Green, Fraser Sheader and Jason Parrott. Not forgetting Peter Morling who turned up at exactly the right moment with the lunch! Since Maranello UK took over the franchise just before the International Kart Show in November they have sold in excess of thirty karts with more orders in the pipeline. Quite honestly I am not surprised.

The RS7 had plenty of grip without compromising corner exit speed
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Ancient & Modern – Old karts get a second chance

Before we continue with 100cc engine restoration , I would like to briefly share with you some karting photographs that were given to me recently. It was not the technical content of the photographs that impressed me but the sense of fun and friendship that they depict. How many modern day karters will have photographs like these to look back on in forty years time? If any of you older karters can identify the kart or any of the karters shown, I am offering the prize of a drive in an historic kart at one of the upcoming 50th anniversary events. The only clue I will give you is that they are all west country drivers, the date is 1960 and the circuit is Crisbett Mendip. Answers to the address at the foot of the page please and best of luck. 100cc Engine Restoration (Part 2) Having established that your barrel still has some bore life left in it and that you are going to bite the bullet and restore your cherished engine, proceed as follows.

Comp Pic 1
Happiness is a sport called karting

Carefully remove the barrel while supporting the piston and connecting rod with your other hand. Put the barrel to one side for now, we will need to measure it up at a later date. Next, remove the piston circlips and slide out the gudgeon pin, having packed the mouth of the crankcase with rag to avoid any loose rollers falling into the engine. Note the arrangement of any small end spacers that may be fitted. Have a quick look at the small end eye in the connecting rod. Any signs of scoring or bluing will mean that a replacement rod is probably going to be required. Some of the very early connecting rods have a plain bush fitted to the small end eye. Again, inspect for damage or excessive wear.

Check that the piston rings are not trapped in their grooves and that the ring pegs are still in position. Most early pistons will be of the boost port type and will have a rectangular window cut in the side of the piston. Check carefully for cracks in the piston skirt, especially around the boost port window and the transfer passage cut-outs. Depending on the state of tune of your engine, you may have additional holes drilled in the piston that connect to additional transfer ports. Five or seven port arrangements were not uncommon. Some later engines will be of the TT type and may not have the window in the piston. Carefully remove the barrel base gasket or gaskets without tearing them. You will probably have to make new gaskets using the old ones as templates so take care. That’s the top end of the engine removed, now for the bottom end. Before you can proceed too far with dismantling the bottom end of the engine you are going to need one or two basic but essential tools.

Comp Pic 2
Identify the kart or some of the karters and you could win a prize

The first of these is a sprocket puller, still available from most good kart shops. This will enable you to remove the engine sprocket when used in conjunction with a home made chain wrench. The chain wrench can be made from an old chain and will enable you to lock the drive sprocket prior to undoing the crankshaft nut. The next tools you will require are an ignition locking tool and an ignition extractor. Again, the locking tool can be manufactured at home and is used to lock the ignition rotor to allow the crankshaft nut to be undone. The extractor can then be used to remove the rotor from its taper on the crankshaft. If you have Motoplat ignition, the tools are still available from good kart shops. Should you have the original CEV flywheel magneto ignition you will require an extractor with a different thread form on it. These extractors are no longer commonly available but I can probably source one for you if you want to persevere with the original CEV ignition. That’s all for this month, next month we will separate the crankcase and inspect the parts removed from the engine. Jon Pearce Helpline: 01380 730585 (Evenings only) Competition Address: J. Pearce, 4 Gaisford Chase, Worton, Devizes, Wiltshire SN10 5RX.

Historic Historic Historic Historic Historic Historic Historic Historic


Can you name the driver of kart 29?

Colin Chapman was the man to blame for it all. 42 years ago, he ditched the fabulous looking British Racing Green livery, painted his cars in ghastly red and white colours and “Gold Leaf Team Lotus” was born. Other teams were quick to jump on the bandwagon and F1 cars suddenly started to resemble mobile advertising hoardings, usually promoting various brands of cigarettes. Karters generally missed out on the tobacco money that subsequently became available for all kinds of sport. There was a simple reason for this. With the exception of long circuit machines, karts didn’t have any bodywork on which to display brightly coloured adverts.

It’s different today, of course. Plastic side pods and front bumpers have now become mandatory and they do have the benefit of offering limited advertising space for sponsors. They’re also an essential aid to scribes like me. Without them it would be difficult to differentiate between a Birel and a BRM to say nothing about recognising a Tony from a Tecno. Of course, our governing bodies will claim that plastic bodywork serves a much more important function. Statistics prove that karting has become much safer since the introduction of shock absorbing plastic. At least that’s what they claim although I for one remain extremely sceptical about such assertions.

I don’t have any relevant accident statistics with which to back up my argument and nor, it seems, does anyone else. Yet the glib assumptions about dramatic reductions in accidents have been aired so frequently that they are now universally accepted as absolute gospel. All I know is that serious karting accidents throughout the sixties and seventies were extremely rare occurrences. At Rowrah, for example, the times when an ambulance had to be deployed could be counted on the fingers of a man with no arms. Nowadays, it seems as though medical treatment of some description is required several times during a single race meeting. 40 years ago the number of licence holders was at least equal to today’s figure, although it may be true that modern karters attend more meetings. Even so, I believe it’s a complete fallacy to claim that karting is safer today than it was in the days when we ran without any bodywork at all.

There’s no denying that a tremendous amount of safety features have been incorporated over the years. These range from better protective clothing to much improved crash barriers. So, those who argue that the sport is now a lot safer must find it rather surprising when someone actually challenges their assertion. Perhaps you could argue that the sport is too safety conscious for its own good insofar as the deterrence factor has been removed. Crossing a motorway on foot is extremely hazardous and only a fool would actually attempt it. Conversely, walking across a quiet country road doesn’t seem very dangerous at all, yet many pedestrians are seriously injured or killed each year carrying out this activity. In the days when karts had narrow rear bumpers and no plastic surrounds anyone bashing another driver from behind was likely to come worse off. Class 1 karts didn’t have clutches and any off track excursion meant that your race was effectively ruined. That’s no longer the case and there has been a consequential drop in driving standards.

One consequence of all the plastic sidepods and extended rear bumpers has been an inevitable increase in weight. Today’s karts are tipping the scales at approximately twice the weight of their earlier counterparts. Conversely, the average driver today is much younger and lighter. Put the two together and it’s easy to see why an upturned kart can have more serious consequences for its occupant. Like that famous loaf of bread once advertised regularly on TV, karts were always supposed to be light and Nimble, but I fear that we’ve somehow lost our way. I’ve no doubt there are many convincing arguments that can be made in favour of plastic bodywork but we shouldn’t stifle the opposing voices by quoting fantasy statistics. The next time anyone starts a sentence with the words “Statistics prove”, it might be worthwhile to ask for supporting documentary evidence. Somehow, I doubt that it will be available.

Deliberately bumping another competitor in those days could leave you with sore shins!

Iain Blair, Dave Wetherell, Richard Brett, Jim Coulthard, Paul Brighton, Jenny Philpotts, Timothy Field and Darrell Smith all correctly identified Riccardo Patrese as the driver from last month’s poser. Darrell informs me that he actually drove Riccardo’s Birel/Komet in the historic parade held during the 2007 World Championships at Mariembourg.

From 1971 up until 1980 Mickey Allen and Terry Fullerton shared nine out of ten British titles in karting’s premier class, 100 International. At Shenington in 1974 one driver intervened to prevent their absolute monopoly. He is pictured a year earlier leading Francois Goldstein during the world championships at Nivelles where he eventually finished 16th. If you can name him please send an e-mail to or give me a bell on 01946 861355.

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James DeHavillande’s EDP Diary

Castelletto pole
James started on pole at Castelletto after causing excitement in qualifying.

Following last month’s first instalment of the Easykart Driver Programme Diaries – in which Cadet stars Ronan McKenzie and William Stowell noted their experiences of life as part of Birel’s ladder of talent – this issue sees 2009 Cadet champion (and now Junior star) James DeHavillande describe his visit to the Castelletto circuit near Milan. James also competed in a round of the Italian Easykart Championship and tested a works Birel/BMB KF3 kart.

Friday 23 July 2010

We arrived at the track at about 8.30am and found the Birel race truck and awning. Whilst the Birel staff were getting organised I went for a track walk – and the first thing I noticed, was just how sticky the racing line was. If you stood still for a couple of minutes, your shoes started sticking to the track – far more grip than we experience in UK racing.

Even this early in the day the heat was building and I was glad to get back into the shade. As a spectator, just walking around the paddock was quite draining – so as a driver it was going to be a physically testing day, when lots of fluids would be essential. Consequently, I drank about 4 litres of water each day. The track was also beside a lake, so mosquitoes were another issue to contend with – I was covered in bites.

The testing sessions were for 40 minutes per hour, so I had plenty of track time to fine tune my set-up.

Saturday 24th July 2010

First day of official practice. We checked out the opposition with our stopwatch and I seemed to be on the pace, so looked forward to the Sunday racing.

Sunday 25th July 2010

British EDP drivers Ronan McKenzie, Will Stowell and James DeHavillande

We changed to new tyres ready for the timed qualifying session. With 42 drivers entered for the junior class, qualifying was split into two groups. In the first session Dario Orsini recorded the fastest lap of 52.056 seconds, but as the second session got under way I found it difficult to find some clear air on the circuit and my best time was a tenth off Orsini’s. However, as I approached the start/finish line for my last lap, I dropped back to get some space and then put in a 50.047, which had the commentator screaming into his microphone. I had taken pole. The Birel management considered it to be an exceptional performance for my first race at the track and against the top drivers from the Easykart Driver Programme, who’d had previous experience at Castelletto.

I started from pole in the Pre-Final and led to the chequered flag. Unfortunately I was called up before the stewards. In Italy they use a speed camera and I had taken the pack across the line too fast. The stewards explained that as the pole man, it was my responsibility to control the starting pace and then gave me a 5 second penalty!

This put me on grid six for the Final. When we lined up, seven of the top eight drivers were from the EDP – I had some serious opposition.

As the lights went out for the start, I leapt up to 2nd place at the first corner but only held this position briefly before being smashed from behind and sent across the grass. A large bump in the ground sent me airborne before I crash-landed, nose first.

I was strapped onto a stretcher with a full, head-restraint and carried to the side of the track. It was too dangerous for the paramedics to cross the track whilst the race continued, but eventually they took me to the ambulance and doctor. From there, I was transferred to the local hospital for an X-ray.

With no broken bones, but feeling very battered and bruised, although otherwise OK, I was discharged.

Monday 26th July 2010

After a hot bath and a good breakfast, I declared myself ready for the KF3 test.

For the first session, I just had to do a few laps to ensure the engine reached the correct temperature and then came in to have some tape put over the radiator. After a couple more though, I had to pit because my back was causing a lot of pain. The Birel managers offered to re-schedule the test, but I said that I would rather carry on.

Gradually my lap times improved as I got to grips with the different driving style needed for the KF3 kart and the set-up moved towards the optimum. Unfortunately, the track closed before I could try one of the team’s full race engines.

Overall, I think they were pleased with my performances in the Easykart races and the KF3 test. Consequently, I’m now hopeful that I have done enough to justify a place in the factory Birel team.

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Ancient & Modern: Old karts get a second chance

CRW_6461-1Many thanks to Steve Chapman and all at Whilton  Mill KC for inviting the Historic & Classic KC to their Brazilian Cup Meeting on the 29/30th April. Whilton Mill is perfect for the old karts with its mixture of flowing corners, gradients and fast straights.

I had invited Alan Button to come along and do some laps in my 1967
Barlotti Imp with a freshly rebuilt Komet K77. Alan last drove a kart over forty years ago but was soon circulating quickly and reliably, much to my relief. He ver y much enjoyed the experience and is now looking for a kart of his own.

One very welcome new face to the historic karting scene is Robbie Ashton. Robbie had restored the Barlotti Imp that he raced in the sixties and I loaned him a quick Parilla S13 to use for the event. Robbie did not take long to settle back into the groove and we had much fun chasing each other around the circuit.

Another new face at historic events is Peter Freeman who came along to watch accompanied by his long time mechanic and pusher. Peter now has a kart and engine in restoration and hopes to be ready for Shenington in June.
Event regular Brian Malin brought along a ver y original Barlotti Continental with BM F100 JB engine.

A bit of tinkering in the pits had the machine ready to run but unfortunately Brian lost the chain out on the circuit cutting short his fun. Another regular, Peter Brinkworth was present and did sterling ser vice with his pocket of spare plugs to help restart a couple of oiled-up engines. Thanks Peter.

Wyatt Stanley arrived with the interesting front engined Del-Kart but suffered mechanical gremlins on Sunday.Classic racers Jeff Gray and Steve Goodman both circulated with good speed,Jeff unfortunately experiencing some mechanical failures on Saturday, necessitating an overnight engine change enabling him to run on Sunday.

Ian Pittaway had a newly restored Class IV Blow with Villiers 197 engine, driven in period style by Alan Button’s son. Ex-British Class 1 team member Chris Arnold attended on Sunday as a spectator. Chris is preparing some lovely, period ‘70s karts and will hopefully be driving at the Shenington event.

100cc Engine Restoration (Part 5)
This month we will take a look at some of the parts previously removed from the engine. One of the most important components on a 100cc engine is the carburettor. These can usually be divided into two types, both widely used in the sixties and seventies.

Type 1: Dell’Orto MB22A and MB24A.
Type 2: Tillotson Diaphragm type

The Dell’Orto carburettors were widely used in the early to mid-sixties and are generally ver y reliable and suitable for use today. They have an integral float bowl and require a fuel pump if a floor mounted tank is being used. The fuel pump is also usually a Dell’Orto item and is operated by pulses from the crankcase. Don’t forget that when using a fuel pump you will need a fuel return line back to the tank to return the excess flow from the pump. I also use a fixed restrictor in the return line to avoid star vation of the float bowl.

A range of main jets will be required for this type of carb and these are readily available from Dell’Orto dealers. Jet sizes required will be 130 to 125 for running-in and 120 to 110 for racing, dependent on weather conditions. Stripping and rebuilding of this type of carb is ver y straightfor ward, just make sure that ever ything is clean before you put it back together.

I am a big fan of the Dell’Orto carburettor and have used them on early Komet and Parilla engines for several years with no problems.Karting magazine has published many relevant articles relating to Dell’Ortos over the years and the technical among you may find the following articles interesting:

December 1966 issue: Basic preparation of the Italian rotar y valve engines by Roger and John Mills.

April 1971 issue: The preparation of Italian rotar y valve engines for reliability by Paul Fletcher.

Next Month: Strip and rebuild of the
Tillotson carburettor.
Jon Pearce

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