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Round The Bend – No more heroes

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Has our changed relationship with karting killed off the titans of the sport?

2009 CIK-FIA WORLD KARTING CHAMPS FOR DRIVERS & ASIA-PACIFIC KF3 CHAMPIONSHIP  COLOANE-MACAU
Adam’s hero Terry Fullerton (right) in a pensive mood

In September 1977 David Bowie released one of the most inspiring and romantic songs ever recorded, Heroes. Paradoxically, punk intellectuals The Stranglers had a hit with No More Heroes in the same month.

A year later, I was given my first copy of Karting magazine and from there on was hooked on what for me then, and largely still is, the most exciting thing ever. In the September 1978 issue, Terry Fullerton’s victory in the RAC British championships started what was to become my deep and abiding hero worship of the moustachioed genius.

Ayrton Senna da Silva’s exploits in the Le Mans World Championships added his name to a growing list of admired drivers; that also included Mickey Allen, Jackie Brown and Martin Smart. When he won the 135cc world title at Parma, Mike Wilson completed my personal ‘Holy Trinity’ that already featured Fullerton and Senna.

Oddly, I never saw any of them race. My fandom was wholly inspired by what I read in Karting and its rival, Kart & Superkart. Such were the reports that, in some ways, I didn’t need to because their exploits were so brilliantly captured by the writers of the time. Consequently, my first racing kart was a Zip/Dap – because that’s what Terry raced – before I bought a Wilson Premier, made by Mike’s legendary father Brian.

Hearing that his son was one of my biggest heroes, Brian once rather playfully told my dad that the Premier was based on Mike’s works Birel chassis. On rock hard Carlisle tyres it certainly didn’t handle like it but I didn’t care. If it was an English Birel, that was good enough for me. It even took me to the 1983 MBKC Junior Britain title.

During my youth I never met any of them, not Mike, Terry, Ayrton or even Mickey. However, I did finally meet six-time World Champion Wilson in 2006 and after introducing myself in a rather mumbley, awkward fashion, he invited me to join him for a pint. Those couple of hours, spent chatting over several beers were a delight and he revealed himself to be as brilliant in company as he was on the track.

With Senna no longer with us, that left Fullerton as my last hero to meet. I had heard that he is a notoriously spiky individual who does not suffer fools gladly. As a result, I had often seen Terry in the paddocks throughout Britain and Europe but never quite felt brave enough to do the shaky-hand thing.

At the Wackersdorf U18 World Championship opener, I spotted him on the dummy grid and decided to man up and press the flesh. I struck up a conversation and found an amiable, articulate and fascinating character. On the journey home I had the pleasure of spending a little more time with him and whilst I can see why he has a flinty reputation, nothing could dislodge the ‘hero’ tag I had applied over thirty years ago.

Like Stirling Moss had in F1, Fullerton invented the concept of being a professional kart racer and to this day, the leading factories employ supremely talented individuals to represent them at the highest level – but I wonder if they have anywhere near the status yesteryear’s heroes?

Perhaps not. Sadly there are far fewer manufacturers now and consequently there is a greatly reduced demand for professional drivers. Moreover, kids’ relationship with the sport has changed. In the Seventies and Eighties, karting was often rather sniffily referred to as the ‘poor man’s motorsport’ – and of course many young, talented drivers would, like Senna, graduate from karts to cars. For those who did, far more remained in karting for karting’s sake. If you look at some of the names in back issues of Karting, you’ll regularly see names cropping up across several years, if not decades. Nowadays, youngsters come into the sport because they see it as a means to an end. It is simply the first part of the journey on the way to F1 and as a result we are often privileged to see, but then deprived of some epic talents; Button, Davidson and Hamilton, to name but three.

What is it that propels them out of karting? During the summer I attended a round of the British Touring Car Championship and the Formula Renault races were tortuous. The drivers and their families were openly bored and several admitted that they missed karting. So why risk possible career failure and penury by leaving the sport that made you? Some drivers recognise this and stay. Ben Cooper is a recent graduate to the professional karting ranks and for me is emerging as a future hero. He’s quick, at Kosmic on merit and a terrific bloke to boot. Ben Hanley –ranked five years ago as the ‘World’s best karter’ – has had the balls to return to his roots with Maranello and with the likes of Convers, Ardigo, Thonon, Cesetti and my fellow columnist, Gary Catt, we are far from spoilt for choice – but I wonder if, compared to Fullerton, Wilson and Francois Goldstein they are equal in stature to the colossuses of yesteryear? With the increased media coverage, today’s professionals should be bigger stars than their predecessors and if not, why not?

Shortly before he died, Senna was asked who he thought was the best driver in the world. ‘Mike Wilson,’ he replied. The mystified Grand Prix reporter said ‘Who is Mike Wilson?’ ‘The best kart racer I ever saw’

Even F1 heroes had karting heroes. We all still should.

Insider Information: KZ2

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The Energy/TM KZ2 outfit as tested by Martin

Over the last few issues of Karting Magazine we have started covering the various gearbox classes available for drivers to compete in either club or national championships, i was asked recently by a driver if i was going to cover the 125 classes as he did not understand the structure at all and i must admit it is a little confusing so with the help of Sue Fairless i will try to explain how to get into this fantastic class that many rate as the only pure karting class to race.

A quick drive up the motorway to Wigan Three Sisters circuit and for a change a nice day, i was to drive a kart supplied by Andy Fairless on the Saturday practice which would give me 4 or 5 sessions throughout the day, strange how all these people lend me beautifully prepared karts with instructions of “enjoy yourself” and they still look happy !! As soon as i arrived the usual and customary insults were exchanged between us and i was told to “get on with it your out now”. Suitably kitted out, no leather suits are needed for short circuit gearbox, it was down to the dummy grid and ready for the off.

I have done gearbox racing before so the procedures were not strange to me but basically a hand clutch is used just for starting so it’s clutch in select first gear a short push, release the clutch and away you go either straight out onto the circuit or once the engine fires quickly pull the clutch in and the engine will keep running on the dummy grid to warm the engine up, no electric start. Select first gear, a fistful of revs release the clutch and hang on, immediately up the gearbox, no clutch is required to change the gears, similar to a motorbike, just lift off the power change gear and power on up to 60 mph in 4 seconds or less will try to leave your helmet back in the pits with ears attached !!

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The basics of gearbox karting are easily mastered but to get to it crack on every corner, every lap, every time takes practice and work, top drivers have tried to move from other classes and soon realise that they are not going to win without more effort than they have had to use in the other direct drive classes, a combination of front brakes, gears and power take some getting used to, understanding your engine revs and knowing which gear to use in and out the corners is so important, miss a gear and the engine power goes and a train of karts go straight by while you are dropping a gear and building up speed again, a race won or lost by a gear change. The power produced is awesome, obviously by using gears you are always on power, into a corner, tremendous braking and changing down 3 or 4 gears in almost 3 or 4 feet, back on the power and pull through every gear reaching 90 to 100 mph in 6th gear on the short circuits, maximum power in every gear, pure racing, no comparison to direct drive at all.

Getting started in the short circuit 125 ICC UK (KZ2 UK) class is not as complicated as you may think, any chassis fitted with front brakes which can cost you anything from £1000 upwards depending on new or used and any single cylinder 125cc, water cooled, reed valve engine homologated by the CIK for the ICC class which will cost you around £1500 for a good secondhand unit, obviously the more you spend on equipment the better but that will get you racing and competitive, i was in an Energy kart with a TMK9 B engine fitted, standard short circuit crash tested bodywork is used. KZ1 uses the same basic equipment with more restrictions to the engine and gearbox, but KZ2 is the most popular class on short circuit due to the numbers on the grid and the additional costs in the KZ1 class. The class weight is 180kg with the kart weighing around 95 to 100 kg so it is ideal for any driver who is carrying a bit of ballest !!!

If you are mechanically minded the maintenance required on a gearbox kart is not as complicated as it looks, chassis is basically the same amount of work as any other class but the brakes need more work due to the front system, they need to be well bled and balanced because believe me you will need them!! Engine is not sealed and will require a full rebuild every year at a cost of aprox. £350 including the basic replacement parts, and a new piston kit is needed every 3 races events (3 practice days and 3 race meetings) and will cost aprox £60, obviously there are other things to go wrong like in all other classes but that is the basic maintenance required, add some good fuel and oil, run the engine in well and you should run all year.

There are 2 major championships the ABkC Super 4 where you will need a national A licence and the Northern Karting Federation (NKF) which is a club championship where you can race with a national B licence, circuits include (for 2010) Forest Edge, Fulbeck, Shenington, Rowrah, Rissington, Kimbolton, Wigan and Teeside with 6 rounds in each championship, 3 of the rounds in the Super 4 championship include the Masters which is run between the NKF and the British Superkart Association who run the long circuit meetings, the masters have 3 short circuit and 3 long circuit rounds during the season to give the short circuit drivers a chance to try long circuit racing, short circuit bodywork can still be used on the long circuit meetings in the masters but a full leather race suit must be worn. If you are racing in the Super 4 you get a free registration into the masters and every year one of the rounds is at the fantastic Cadwell Park circuit for the British Grand Prix, this year held on July 17/18.

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Thats about it, easy really and not as difficult as i thought to get into 125 gearbox, it is as close as you will get to single seater racing with all the speed and performance as you will need, not for the faint hearted and don’t expect to master it in a weekend but if you like a challenge and need to prove to yourself you can race karts this is the class you need. Thanks to Sue and Andy Fairless for all their help and if you need any more information contact them on 015395 62256.

IAME: The Kart Engine Makers

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1Iam sure that everyone who has raced seriously in karting will have heard of IAME. If you have raced 100cc machinery then you will have either used one of their products or been beaten by one of their products at some time in your career. The IAME story starts a long time ago when only a handful of those still involved today were karting back in 1959. The Parilla motorcycle factory decided to put their toes in the water of the burgeoning kart market by producing a bespoke engine for this growing sport. The engine was a fan cooled 2-stroke of 100cc capacity with a 48mm bore and a 54mm stroke running up to 11,000rpm. The engine probably produced about 11 horsepower and was suitably called the V11. This engine was designed by Cesare Bossaglia, a name that was to become synonymous with famous models of kart engine for many years. At that time Bruno Grana was export manager for Moto Parilla.

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A very good relationship developed between Grana and Bossaglia and, following the success of the V11, many other Parilla kart engines were produced such as the S12, S13, BA13, TG14 and the GP15. All these models were Bossaglia creations, culminating in the first World Championship win for the GP15 in the hands of Guido Sala in 1964. In 1961 Grana founded a new company named Komet Italiana and contracted Bossaglia as his designer. The product of this relationship was the Komet K12 with an ‘over square’ bore and stroke of 51 x 48.5mm, this was also a fan cooled engine and its success was guaranteed when a single order for 750 units was received from ItalKart. Incidentally, Tal-Ko took their name from these two manufacturers, ItalKart and Komet, for whom they were the UK concessionaires. Cesare Bossaglia continued to work for Grana on a freelance basis and through the following few years Komet and Parilla continued to compete against one another with definite divisions between their supporters. All the popular Komets were short strokes and the Parillas long strokes. Komet users would always have bigger rear sprockets and tended to feel superior in that era.

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The Komet K77 and later the K88 in particular, were very successful indeed. In 1968 Bruno Grana was approached by three American industrialists and together they formed the new company of Italian American Motor Engineering (IAME). After a while the American interest died away leaving Bruno Grana with total ownership and control of IAME, a position he was to retain until he died in August 2005. In 1975 IAME took over the Sirio company that belonged to the Rovelli family, and in 1976 they also took over the BM company. The four big names of Parilla, Komet, Sirio and BM then formed the nucleus of IAME with these four names 44still branded products today. Bossaglia was a vital part of IAME until he died in 1985. While the company has always concentrated on kart engine production they did produce engine for light aircraft under the KFM brand between 1981 and 1991. These engines were produced in both 2 and 4-stroke models. At that time they became the reference point in their field for quality and performance. I believe it is true to say that Bruno Grana was IAME. He ran the company with a passion for the sport he loved. While he was ultimately competitive by nature, he also believed in the future of the sport as a whole and he would often sell vital components to his arch-rivals. The quality of IAME components is well known and many winning engines of other makes will be found with an IAME connecting rod.

IAME manufacture their own crankshafts and conrods, generally respected as being the best. Some years ago, pistons were the Achilles heel of 100cc engines, Grana set about finding where the stress came from that was causing piston failure and the IAME piston developed almost 15 years ago solved the problem. This piston has been copied but never bettered and remains the preferred choice to this day. Anther important figure joined IAME in 1978, Paul Conde. Well versed in international business, Conde became Grana’s right hand man. As IAME expanded Conde gave the company extra flexibility that meant that they could be 55represented in more than one place at a time. Paul also took care of the international distributors. Cedi Nap in France is a wholly owned subsidiary of IAME managed by Thierry Seminger. France is an important market for IAME, the infrastructure for karting and their unrivalled circuits make it an ideal testing ground for new products. France was among the first to run TaG engines in any quantity and they now have strong sales for the Leopard, X30 and 80cc Gazelle models. IAME currently produce in excess of 6,500 engines a year in about a dozen different model types with the factory employing 55 people in total. It was a real pleasure to have the opportunity recently to tour the factory and see everyone quietly going about their business. There is no rush or panic here, just well ordered, quality engineering taking place.

The factory is on one floor with plenty of space between workstations and machinery. There is a wide range of lathes and milling machines with both manually operated and modern, multi-axis, numerically controlled examples. There are production build areas and a specialist build shop for race team equipment. No one seems to be in a hurry but the work gets done quickly and efficiently. While we were walking through, I saw one man assemble a JICA engine in a matter of minutes. True, all the correct tools and equipment were to hand, but it was easy to see that this bloke knew what he was doing and getting it right was second nature to him. There is a separate design and development department where I saw a piston being measured on a shadowgraph. Next to the R&D offices were three dyno rooms. In fact this was the only area that our happy snapper Chris Walker was not allowed to photograph in detail. There was a new model TaG engine revving away on one dyno and another on the bench being examined. I have to say they look the business! Probably 50 or 60 race engines all prepared, labelled and ready for action also really looked the part. There is no pretension at IAME, just solid purposeful manufacturing of a world-leading product. The best quality raw materials are a prerequisite and quality is controlled right through the factory until the finished article is produced. IAME have a reputation for best quality products and many other manufacturers aspire to equal them. It is a matter of opinion whether any of them achieve it. Since the death of Bruno Grana, Mr. Fagnani has been appointed as Managing Director. With no disrespect to Grana, Mr. Fagnani has a modern attitude to business and management.

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Well ordered, quality engineering produces in excess of 6,500 engines a year, and all for karts

While the industry has unlimited respect for the memory of Bruno Grana, it has to be accepted that things will change and these changes will be for the better. While Grana had a very successful, if autonomous management style, Fagnani has a much more open and modern approach. He believes that every member of staff has their special skill and that they should have a voice. In this way he has opened up the lines of communication within the factory to unprecedented levels. Every member of staff is now able to put their point of view to improve any aspect of the IAME product. A board of directors has been formed including Paul Conde and the production manager Guiseppe Mioso. Other important names in the management structure include Mr. Molinari, head of design, Mr. Pelizzoli the purchasing manager and Pinuccia Donatelli who keeps them all in order as head of administration. The final jewel in the crown came last December when Mr. Fagnani managed to woo Cesare Bossaglia’s son Andrea on board. While there are still strong ties with the past and sound foundations are essential to the success of any business, IAME are dedicated to the future. They are a stand alone kart engine manufacturer and do not make any other products.

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While their race engines for Formula A, ICA and JICA are of great importance to them, they do have a very good feel for the commercial needs of the industry. At the moment their top selling model is the 125 TaG Leopard, followed by the newer model TaG X30. This has a more modern appearance with a very neat crankcase housing a balance shaft and starter. While the engine still has an external water pump at present, the Cedi Nap team in France have mounted the pump on the engine with a belt drive from the crankshaft. One of the advantages of the IAME product is the cast iron cylinder liner, allowing a wide range of piston sizes to be retro fitted, giving the engine a very long life expectancy. IAME also make all their own clutches, a quality example is the clutch drum that is machined from cast iron.

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Engine assembly is second nature to these experts

The JICA engine is third in their popularity poll which is not surprising really. JICA has become a Parilla benefit in the last couple of years and the PV100 Swift is the reference point in the class. It is a short stroke ‘over square’ engine. Perhaps it should be called a Komet! Chris Walker and I very much enjoyed our visit to IAME. We both thank Mr. Fagnani for changing his busy schedule in order to see us. We would further like to thank Mr. Bossaglia for his very informative factory tour. It has been a pleasure to write this article, I hope I have done IAME justice, at the very least it is an insight into the production of kart engines. IAME have been at the top of their game for many years and they look set to stay there for the foreseeable future.

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Mr. Fagnani (right), the new boss of IAME, explains the company’s philosophy to our man

George Robinson

TKM ‘O’ plates return to Kimbolton Festival

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The ABkC O plates for the Formula TKM classes are returning to the Maxxis TKM Festival at Kimbolton in August heralding what is expected to be a surge in interest for the plates. “It’s a great move” says TKM boss Alan Turney. “The Festival is recognised as the top event in TKM karting and so having this plate for the winner in Juniors and Seniors will be the icing on the cake.” Some years ago the O plates were held at the Festival and became the most hard fought and highly publicised O plates under the ABkC banner. But since being taken elsewhere they have lost status and size.

By moving the plates to the Festival it will actually save drivers money because within one meeting they will have the chance to race for the titles while also taking part in the Festival – seen as the main event of the year for the TKM classes, going into its 18th year in 2015. The format of the Festival will be changed slightly to split the grids into those racing for the O plates and those taking part in the Festival section – just as it used to be. The event takes place on August 7-9 next year. Full regulations will be released early next year.

TKM Insight – 2015 TKM Regulations

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2015 TKM Regulations have been largely set in stone. The good news is that the changes for 2015 are aimed at making life easier for everyone

Whether driver, engine builder, or scrutineer the new rules should not cause concern for anyone. Arguably the most significant change centres on something that will affect many but hopefully in a positive way. It concerns the way that cylinder exhaust ports are checked and comes in the wake of the problems created by one rogue engine builder who this year decided to make up his own rules. If you are not an engine expert let me just say that the size and position of the exhaust ports is very important to the overall performance of the engine. Checking them has always been quite a detail and tricky job requiring specialist measuring tools. Tal-Ko have previously supplied a ‘no go’ gauge to test with but it was made to the maximum height size listed for the port at 21.15mm and the reality is no engine has ever been made with ports anything like that big. So to make life easier and more real world, there’s a two-step revision. First the maximum size port has been reduced to 21.06mm.

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Second a new port height gauge has been made by Tal-Ko to check at that size. The important point is that in a normal standard engine that tool won’t go into the port but on an illegally modified engine it will drop in easily making it simple to identify. This new gauge will be supplied free to all relevant eligibility scrutineers and recognised engine builders. And if you want one for yourself then it will be available for £20 + vat. The old 21.15mm port height gauge will now become obsolete. The same will also be happening with the inlet port height dimension and I’ll bring you news on that next month. Note too in the new regulations Tal-Ko now has unprecedented powers to permanently mark any component that is illegal and cannot be made legal again. Another step towards killing anyone thinking of cheating, this will help ensure that parts don’t get sold on or raced that are not compliant with the regulations. Moving on you’ll also see in the regs new words added which follow up the clarification on rear bumpers and their fitting to make sure no-one tries to slip in another adjustable one.

Also clarified is the regulation that TAG engines must at all times be capable of being started on the button. The next issue is on Senior weight. A further weight/power band has been added, with a gold restrictor of 20.5mm and weight level: 139kg. This is to help lighter drivers (especially women) competing in the class without the need to carry excess lead. Minimum driver weight will be 44kg. To help reduce the problem of 50mm rear axle cracking you will also be allowed to make use of an axle insert which slides up the inside of the axle to help reduce stress at key areas. Reports say it works well. And then we come to bodywork where as I explained last month the CIK have managed to drop everyone into a tricky situation. What a caring, thoughtful governing body they are! The positive news is that as a result of pressure levied by myself and others in the UK, the MSA have put pressure on the CIK to help make the situation somewhat simpler. Though as of the day I write this at the back of October the situation is still somewhat floaty. But hope that new droopy front noses will be able to be fitted with a converter which stops them drooping. And some sort of compromise will be reached on the side bars to make them sensibly compatible. If you can buy a current stuff then do so – it will make a perfectly useable spare for less hassle!

Focus On : TYRO

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The ‘TYRO’ class is designed to give youngsters a crucial step into racing without breaking the (your) bank.

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There’s a relatively new class called TYRO, a low budget class designed to get more kids into karting. The series launched in March 2013 and provides those initial and important ‘first steps’ and helps to encourage the family atmosphere that karting can do so well but can also be lacking from other series. It’s a cost-effective series to compete in, with drivers between the ages of 11 and 15 getting out on track. The series is on a level-playing field, with driver skill being the key point. The class not only provdes a place to race but also a training ground for skills development. The series was founded by Father and son, Steve and Gary Chapman, along with Tim Gillard. Together they have over a century of experience within many different aspects of karting, and run the club championship-style series Rissington Kart Club.

Who better than this trio to get any budding World Champion the best of starts possible? There are nine drivers that compete at Rissington on the first weekend of every month; starting in March over ten race weekends. The MSA-recognized class is growing in numbers and recognition, as they have also been invited to race meetings at Shenington, Fulbeck and the forthcoming National Championship event of NatSKA at Whilton Mill in July. THE KART: The Gillard Junior TYRO is the uniform kart used in the series, with Tim himself being a part of the Motor Sports Association Kart Technical Working Group, having built karts in varying competitions. It conforms to international bodywork specifications, as well as being powered by a 95cc Radne Raket engine, which is a TAG (Touch And Go) unit that only needs to be routinely maintained ‘TYRO’ every 50 hours. It runs on Heidenau RDD intermediate tyres, which allow the kart to predictably slide, giving the driver vital experience of throttle and steering control. The engine and gear ratios are sealed, which prevents premature wear and ensures reliability. This also adds to that cost-effective ethos that is a key part of the concept.

The only adjustments that can be made to the kart is tyre pressures and wheel positions, which gives that emphasis on driver progression, but also helps to get the family involved all round. No further costs or upgrades can be made, as it provides a steady set of rules for all to follow. Drivers get up to two ‘taster’ sessions, costing £127 plus VAT, where equipment is provided. That way, families can get a feel for what’s involved before diving in at the deep end. One of the benefits of TYRO is that drivers don’t need to pay for the ARKS test, medical and MSA Pack that cost up to £250. Costs are further reduced as the awning and race management is provided through Protrain Racing, meaning drivers have less kit to buy and they can all club together in a communal space.

We spoke with Steve Chapman, one of the TYRO founders. Stevey believes that TYRO brings back that family aspect of karting that is missing in a lot of the lower tiers. “We encourage the family to come along and be a part of it, as it really is part and parcel of what karting is meant to be about. It is all about having fun and enjoying the racing and remaining friends throughout. The children may be fighting on track, but they are clearly friends off it. We even had a lovely BBQ last year, which makes it so worthwhile.” he said. Driver Aiden Rudge, who is leading the series, which doesn’t actually have an overall title, explained how much training actually goes on during the weekends: “The new people get taught how to drive, told about the rules, regulations and flags.

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There are always people around who know everything about the kart as well.” Olivia Holt, who also races in the series, summed up her love for the sport, having truly been bitten by the racing bug: “I can’t stop karting, as it is in my blood.” COSTS: The kart itself is £2948 plus VAT to purchase, and also comes with a TYRO membership. A kart trolley costs around £160. Tyres cost around £100 a set. Entry fees for a race weekend, including a test day are £105, but will be reduced by a further £10 per day of testing and racing if a karting club membership is purchased at £60 per year. Budget around £500 for race wear including a helmet. All in all, it would be around £1444 per year of competition per driver, which makes TYRO one of the most appealing series to start off in at around £28 per week. TYRO proves that racing isn’t just about winning. Sure, winning counts for a lot but along the way, many clubs and series may have forgotten that people kart for more than just trophies; they do it to learn new skills, make life-long friends, spend time together as a family and most of all, they do it to have fun!

Tracking The Future Of The Sport

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Exclusive interview: CIK-FIA president Sheikh Abdulla bin Isa Al Khalifa

What’s the man in charge of the CIK doing to ensure karting’s future is better than ever?

The international karting world is in rather a stagnant position this season. Over the past few years, costs have risen to the extent that a season in junior single-seater racing can be financially similar to that in the sport’s grassroots. For many at this entry level on the motorsport ladder, there is a view of it being a playground for the financially rich rather than the genuinely talented.

Karting costs rose again last year when governing body the CIK-FIA outsourced the promotion of its world and European championship rounds to its main event rivals, WSK Promotions which hosted similar European contests. Many viewed it as a bad move and for the majority of the season, both parties were at loggerheads over exactly who was in control. WSK heads wanted complete authority over the whole race weekend, while CIK-FIA bosses were keen to remind teams and officials who was still in overall charge. When the opening round of the World KF Championship arrived in the UK last season for the first time in 48 years, clerk of the course and chairman of the hosting Trent Valley Kart Club at PF International, Nigel Edwards, slammed the event’s organisation, stating: “The WSK tried to be both the promoter and organiser, as it does in its own series’, doing too many things.”

This season, the CIK-FIA has attempted to clamp down on rising costs. Race weekends have been reduced from five to four days, the number of tyres permitted to be used over the weekend has been reduced, and entry fees have been cut.

Last season’s two-round world championship has also been reduced to a single event, mainly due to pressure from teams. Events at PF International and Bahrain, where only the top 15 drivers scored points, left many refusing to travel to the second round along with losing costly machinery and parts to a container ship for weeks.

CIK-FIA president Sheikh Abdulla bin Isa Al Khalifa says a second season alongside WSK will produce more effective governance. “Overall last year was very positive,” he says. “I think the link between the CIK-FIA and WSK benefitted both  organisations and especially the karters themselves. There were ups and downs, costs may have gone up because of such a merger but we have tackled this for this year. We are ironing out all the issues that we had last year so that in 2014 it will be a better season.

“It’s normal in any joint venture or partnership where two people are set in their own ways, to have differences of opinion. So when they sit down together, everyone thinks that they are correct. You hash out these problems and what I really want to know is how it ends up at the conclusion of the season, and looking back at it, it ended brilliantly.

“The racing was exciting and came down to the final races. Unfortunately in one of the world championships, the result had to go to the FIA Court of Appeal but that’s racing. At the end the outcome was exactly what it should have been. We encourage teams to going head to head even off the track to find a legal way to improve machinery around the rules and regulations.”

Al Khalifa, who became CIK-FIA president in November 2010, has a clear vision for the future of the sport: “My vision for the future of karting in simple: like all forms of motorsport, costs have escalated and become complicated. So my goal is to simplify the kart and to make it cheaper for the karter. Motor racing is expensive but it should be within reach of a lot of people. Unfortunately in previous years we have strayed off this approach and my goal is to bring it back.

“This year we’ve introduced rules and regulations where we limit tyres and test days and we’ve reduced the race weekend by a day. All these steps are to ensure that we have a control on the budget of karting and to make it more affordable. It’s something that I can’t do with a flick of a switch so it’s going to take a little time to curb it back to where it should be.”

Two of the world’s main classes, the KF-powered senior and junior championships, are in a state of transgression. The engine has been in use for a decade but when it was introduced, it was envisioned it would reduce costs. In fact, they’ve gone in the other direction and national domestic championships around Europe, including the British Super One Series, have shunned the senior class due to falling grid numbers. This season’s MSA British KF Junior class will for the first time use a pooled engine system.

In the meantime, the international karting community is holding its breath and putting its faith in the introduction of a new KF alternative, proposed for introduction in 2016.

Karting Magazine understands that Italian manufacturer IAME is one of the manufacturers asked to produce a new engine. However the CIK-FIA president, despite not announcing which manufacturers have developed and tested engines, says he is confident the deadline will be reached.

“All I can say is that there are powerplants out there which have been tested, they are very positive and very promising,” Al Khalifa says. “I’m extremely happy that we are going to meet the 2016 target with the budget we have set out to achieve. Now we have to hash it out and to make sure that they are more reliable. This year a team is only limited to two engines so we must make sure that we produce a product which is worthy of karting itself and not rush into it. We could have introduced the engine much quicker but I think we should take our time with it, make sure the engine is the correct one, not as a reaction to the current KF unit but to have something which is proper and sound, something that will be there for the future.

“There are two to three manufacturers which have produced new KF engines. We will not narrow that list down to a single manufacturer, instead continue with the status-quo which we have now and will work together to standardise an engine which will be implemented and homologated by 2016 which all manufacturers could produce.

“By 2016 the new KF engine is going to be cheaper, lighter and less complicated. I’m a firm believer in market forces and if you create that competition, that’s how you have the control on price. I am very much against monopolies and single-makes.”

Al Khalifa has strong views on the format of the CIK-FIA World KF Championship. He openly admits that he was against the alteration to a single-round contest this season, and would instead prefer a truly global competition. This year’s main international championships will all be held within Europe.

“I was a firm believer that the world championship should be a multi-round contest,” he says. “But discussions between teams and other parties, everybody wanted a single round this year.

“It’s not the case that the CIK-FIA has decided to re-focus the heart of the racing to within Europe. It just worked out to be that way but I truly believe that if you are going to be crowned world champion, you should prove yourself more than once. The teams and drivers’ excuse is costs. So let me get costs under control and then increase the racing. They’re happy with four rounds of the European Championships this season so they are contradicting themselves a little.

“A world championship event has to go all around the globe. The FIA rules and regulations determine that if you are going to call it a world championship, and it’s not a single event, then it needs to be held on more than one continent. I would like us to provide a sensible global world championship.”

Teams will be hesitant to sign up for that during this period of austerity and uncertainty. Until 2016 comes around, the future direction of global karting is still to be decided.

Technical Analysis

IAME technical manager Andrea Bossaglia, says the Italian firm has been one of the manufacturers tasked in creating a new KF-alternative engine. He gave Karting Magazine examples of what has been requested by the sport’s governing body.

“The CIK has the target to simplify the KF engine philosophy,” he says, “and this target is supported by everybody I believe. We as IAME proposed a radical simplification of the engine, but the solution shared by the majority of manufacturers was more-or-less a re-styling of the current KF unit.

“Power valve simplification, not removal, has been proposed for KF, coming back to the single-slide without booster obturator rings. The water pump can also be placed on the rear axle at the manufacturer’s discretion. The carburettor would be a floating chamber-type for both the KF and KF Junior classes. Personally I’m not in favour of this option. I can only foresee two advantages:

1- once the carburettor is well setup, it doesn’t need much maintenance for semi-professional or non-professional use (admittedly KF will have such a use in the future).

2- Dellorto will not make any development or improved versions of the carburettor. Therefore customers will not be forced to buy more carburettors during the season, or between one season and the next.

“Saying that, I don’t see any particular advantages either. The ability to setup the carburettor on the trolley will be what makes the difference on the track, like it is today in KZ.

“The CIK would like to remove the current clutch, in order to remove the necessity of clutch control with a Unilog system or similar. This is because many ASNs don’t have systems such as Unilog. The balancer shaft will remain on the engine. A discussion is still in progress about how to start the engine, once the clutch has been removed.

With the target of simplification in mind, we can’t forget that electric starter removal we significantly reduce engine cost, weight and a potential source of failures.

In my opinion the CIK wants to finalise the regulations very soon, in order to leave adequate time for the manufacturers to build samples, test and finalise their design. We will see how long it will take.”