Tag Archives: karting news

Round The Bend – A Finger of Fun

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F1 drivers do it, footballers do it, even Frankie Dettori does it – so why don’t karters celebrate in style?

Formula One World Championship
Sebastian Vettel with his famous finger

Where do you stand on the finger? No, I don’t mean what Americans like to call ‘the bird,’ but Sebastian Vettel’s pointy celebration, usually aired immediately after setting pole position or winning a race.

It became particularly obvious to me after he’d stuck his RB6 on pole at the Australian Grand Prix back in March. As he climbed out of the car, Seb went into a frenzy of jabbing his finger skyward. It’s clearly designed to combine an expression of sheer, unalloyed joy with a clear, gesticulatory statement that says ‘Ich bin die nummer eins.’

Vettel’s ramrod straight digit first appeared when he won the 2008 Monza GP, where he combined it with more traditional air-punching gestures. Last season, he was able to pull his finger out eight times after setting pole and then winning at Shanghai, Silverstone, Suzuka and Abu Dhabi.

At first it all looked quite fun and combined well with his boyish grin, English sense of humour and natural exuberance. Now into its third season though, I’m becoming less sure. Mrs. Jones finds it a little arrogant and overly pointy, while I sometimes like to imagine he’s trying to get rid of an invisible bee – or flick away something from up his nose, after a mid-race rummage. But fair play to Vettel, he’s developed a celebration that is clearly his own – although others are now trying to copy it.

Formula Three star and Red Bull Junior driver, Jean-Eric Vergne appropriated it for his celebrations at Oulton Park recently – as did British GT race-winner Duncan Cameron at the same circuit. However, Craig Dolby took the Vettel Finger Point in a new direction when he combined it with the famous Schumacher Star Jump after his maiden Superleague Formula win.

Fernando Alonso likes to do a version of it, but his looks more like he’s telling a naughty puppy or child (Vettel perhaps?) not to wee on the floor or eat his Albondigas. Jenson Button likes to demonstrate his characteristically less haughty, but double-handed finger point (Which Mrs. Jones finds charming…)

Unfortunately, his team-mate Lewis has yet to develop, his own hand-based celebration, preferring instead the sporno approach. Kimi Raikkonen is also a fan – see www.thespoiler.co.uk/index.php/sporno and you’ll get my, er, point.

Talking of Hamilton, some celebrations can go too far. Ironically, just a week before the McLaren ace was caught ‘hooning’ by the Melbourne fuzz, Cian Fothergill had been forced to issue a somewhat grovelling apology for his ‘inappropriate actions’ after the opening round of the CIK Stars of Karting Series at Newcastle in New South Wales. He had crossed the line with both hands and feet off the controls of his kart – something the Nick Neri has made his signature move in the USA.

In football, goal-scoring celebrations are part and parcel of the game and have moved on from the classic ‘bundle’ and Alan Shearer’s terminally-dull method of sprinting back to his own half with his right hand in the air. Such was the Geordie maestro’s special brand of excitement that his team-mates at Southampton nicknamed him ‘Chicken and Beans,’ after the then teenage goal-hanger’s favourite meal. For me, Jimmy Bullard’s now legendary finger-wagging at a circle of his Hull City colleagues in a light-hearted re-enactment of the half-time roasting Phil Brown delivered to his team the previous season is the wittiest ever. Probably because it involved some comedic Vetteling.

Unfortunately, karting in the UK and Europe is sadly lacking drivers who like to unveil inventive, pre-rehearsed routines involving their team after each new victory, or who have, like Vettel, begun to experiment with the use of regular gestures. Trust me, I’ve searched high and low. I have a framed poster in my office from the 2008 World Championships, featuring Marco Ardigo crossing the line to win the title. He simply has both arms fully outstretched, hands clenched, punching the air. Yawn. In the same year, Robert Foster-Jones had celebrated his Winter Cup victory by recalling John Travolta’s classic Saturday Night Fever pose, but also liked to temper his other triumphal celebrations with the classic – but rather lacking creativity – clenched fist. Now a Formula Renault UK star, Will Stevens would celebrate his kart wins with a range of celebrations; including admirably applauding his mechanics on the sidelines.

However, Will joins reigning WSK KF2 champion Ben Cooper and 2005 World champion Oli Oakes in sharing the ‘Pointing at the Heavens with Both Hands’. Surely these fine drivers could have planned more exciting hand signals? I know a lot of people worship Valentino Rossi, whose post-race revelries have become almost as exciting and famous as the victories that sparked them, but he has so far failed to inspire similar antics in karting.

In the words of the Tories, it’s time for change, so I’m prepared to offer a prize for the photo or video clip featuring the most creative and original podium or finishing-line celebration. Send your entry to insert address …    

You never know, I might even see if I can persuade Seb to add it to his repertoire.

Formula TKM News

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DSC01397Well it is that time of year again when those involved in the management, organisation and control of kart racing have to pore over the regs to finalise details for the coming season.

Last year there were significant changes within the TKM 2-stroke classes to move away from TKM homologated karts to any kart meeting the required specification. There were plenty of fears it might cause a problem, but I think the reality is that it has been well received and opens up the market.

In contrast to the mass of changes last year, this time the changes are small and really could be described as a bit of tidying up rather than anything else – that is other than the weight and size issue for Juniors which will be going ahead but on a sensible level.

So just to run through the general changes for the 2-strokes, in no particular order they cover the following:

On materials. carbon fibre or similar chain guards will be permitted. The requirement for a steel or aluminium block to be part of the front bumper fitting is gone. Plastic is now OK.

For floortrays there is a new general rule and drive towards making them safer. Too many have sharp exposed corner edges which can cause a lot of injury. In future such items must be made safe, if necessary by bending the tray upwards at such areas.

Brake and throttle pedals are now free in terms of make and fitment, though unless driven by a disabled person, they must be retained as foot operated.

There is a revision to the rule on the new style noise box which allows and indeed recommends the fitment of a wet box which may now be retained by affixing to the noise box itself so long as no holes are drilled through into the air pathway. A sensible move which will open the market to suppliers of some neat devices I have seen. But note only to be used when official conditions are wet or open.

One quite significant tweak is to extend the twin piston ring Junior engine rule which requires the top ring to be free for at least half of its circumference at all times. Previously this had not applied to the Extreme engine with its one piston ring because it was never seen that a coked-in ring could be an advantage. However it seems some tuners have been experimenting with this so to nip it in the bud the new rule says no top rings stuck in position whatever the engine/class.

As previously detailed there are also the changes being introduced to ensure smaller Junior drivers are not swamped by over heavy karts. New maximum kart weights have been set down, a minimum driver weight in full race gear set at 38kg with a minimum height in race boots at 135cm.

The reality of the above weights and height is that it is very unlikely any average size driver will have any problem meeting them. What it is intended to do is prevent way to small kids becoming the victim of an accident with an over heavy kart. The TKM stepping stones of weight and restrictor size have already taken away such dangers and this is just a fine tuning of the situation.
This means that we can now keep the starting age for Junior TKM at 11yrs instead of it being raised as first suggested by MSA to 12yrs or even older.

As far as the TKM 4-strokes are concerned very little in the way of change. A tiny tweak to the available main jets, and a recommendation that when using the Enduro style radiator the exhaust manifold be protected by a heatshield as an alternative to webbing wrapped around. In fact thinking about it, both would be the perfect answer!

The only major change for 4-strokes is the switch for the Seniors to the Green label new age Maxxis tyres for dry weather which are proving so outstandingly good in maximising performance yet also providing astonishingly long life.

Only the other day I was told that after an experienced driver had done 200 laps he put on new ones and only found a couple of tenths. On the previous tyres it would have been at least half a second. A true peace of engineering quality for which Maxxis should be congratulated.

One change that is definitely chalked up for the 4-strokes is a likely addition of a TAG electric starter system similar to that used with great success on the 2-stroke engine. The technology has to be slightly different because of the high engine compression but it is hoped to have the whole thing tidied up and ready to sell early next year. A great boost it should be.

Finally as a general rule across both TKM 2 and 4-stroke Junior classes comes the suggestion that the two classes should race together wherever there is a demand. The two have performance similarity within hundredths of a second so why not?

Now while we are on the subject of regulations it is worth underlining the importance of being on top of them metaphorically. I am always amazed at the number of drivers and (dare I say it scrutineers) who are not up to date on the regulations.

If you are going to compete it is essential that you look through the regulations each year and see where things have changed. Some changes might seem very minor but if you get caught by one of them it could ruin your racing for the day if not longer.

Remember the scruts do a horrible job for which they should be thanked, and might not want to chuck you out, but if you have something which is out of order then it could get you excluded. So very important to read the rules and note the changes which are always underlined. There is no excuse for not knowing the regs since they are available for free download off the www.tal-ko.com website and also in the official MSA Kart regs book and TKM regulations book.

And finally… off to the Kartmania show shortly where Tal-Ko will have a stand displaying lots of TKM 2 and 4-stroke equipment as well as the demon new Veloce karts which have been giving outstanding performance.

The stand will offer a reasonable range of popular engine spares and tools, though clearly not everything! And as usual company boss Alan Turney and class co-ordinator Grahame Butterworth will be holding one of their workshops helping new and old drivers to get the best from their kart and engine. Don’t miss it!

Sidney Sprocket

YORK EYES UP X30 TOUR SWITCH

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Former MSA British IAME Cadet champion Oliver York is considering a switch to compete in next season’s X30 Tour. The 2013 title winner, who struggled throughout his season in MiniMax this year after numerous mid-season team switches, has eyed up either the X30 Tour with the Zip Kart squad or a graduation to Junior Rotax with AIM Motorsport. Despite his poor season, the 13-year-old ended his domestic campaign on a high, claiming the Super One season’s final race win at PF International last month. He was also nominated as one of the two Motor Sports Association’s drivers which raced at this year’s CIK-FIA Academy Trophy. Attracting its first British champion would be the first major coup for the club-based X30 Tour which only began running in Britain this year as a support category to the Little Green Man series. Excellent reviews and star guest drivers throughout the season have boosted its profile, with Super One bosses rumoured to have enquired to move it on to its calendar for 2015.

York competed in October’s X30 International Final at Le Mans with the Zip Kart team. “We are working with Luke Hynes and Zip Kart in X30 and see the partnership as a long-term project towards singleseater racing,” York’s father Garry said. “This past season in MiniMax has been a shocker but the final victory at PFi really gave Oliver a confidence boost. He was over the moon with it. But now we have the tough decision to make. The X30 Tour just got better and better this year and the tie-up with Zip Kart would be good for the future. But we also have an offer from AIM with Preining-prepared engines in Junior Max.” York Sr said the mid-season team changes heavily affected York’s performances: “Looking back it was the wrong decision to move from Coles to Strawberry Racing. We should have stuck with Coles and had some consistency but we came through it and have good options next year.”

BKIA – Industry body assisting karters

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BKIA Chairman Martin Collard

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

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

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

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

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

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

DSCF3255x
The BKIA promote the sport and will sponsor this year’s KartMania show

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

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

Formula TKM News

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carb jets
The two jets on the Walbro carb

This month it is time to go back to some basics to clear up some ill-founded paddock gossip regarding carburettor settings for the TKM BT82 used in our 2-stroke classes.

For the simple fact is that by not paying attention to the simple guidance Tal-Ko give on carb set up, quite a few drivers are losing out big time on performance and also reducing the life of their engine.

There are a couple of fundamental reasons for this and it seems to be a trend that goes in cycles as new people move into the class so let’s do our best to stamp this one out promptly.

The first basic that people get hold of is that allegedly 2-stroke engines go faster with a lean (weaker) air fuel mix. It can be true of some types of 2-strokes, but it depends on the design of the engine and in the case of the BT82 it certainly does not apply.

So while obviously the engine doesn’t want to be flooded with fuel, it will not get faster and faster the more you weaken off the mixture by screwing in the jets mostly because by running it too lean you are also causing the overall engine temperature to rise which is not good for engine power!  All air-cooled 2 stroke engines run faster when cooler!

In fact the opposite is true. If you put an engine on an accurate dyno, you discover that in reality it likes to be quite juicy and rich for best power, especially in the very important mid-range which is where most running is done.

The second fundamental which confuses people is that the Walbro carb has two jets which can be adjusted which effectively interact with each other. On many carbs the low speed jet is non adjustable which leaves it simple as to which one to adjust.

By getting the matching of the pair wrong you can seriously compromise not only the power from your engine, but also its life because too little fuel mix means too little oil lubrication and therefore potential engine death!

It is perhaps worth adding a third fundamental which is that while years ago many people had a basic understanding of air-fuel mix because it was something you had to set correctly on your car, these days it is all done by fuel injection and on-board computers.

So right back to the start. The fuel mix which goes through your engine has two basic functions. The petrol is the stuff that goes bang and gives you power. The oil mixed in with the fuel gives you lubrication. The amount of both of those going through is controlled by the jets – screwed in means less (weaker) and out means more (richer).

The other element in there is air which is what is sucked in through the carb air cleaner and obviously you want as free a flow as possible so that means a nice clean air filter element.

Now the slow speed jet, which has a screw head on it, is a small diameter jet aimed at supplying the engine with fuel used at low revs. The size of the jet is geared to this low level of fuel quantity required.

The high speed jet – the one with a bar across it for easy adjustment on the move – is the one that has the size to cope with the greater volumes at high revs. Note both jets are marked with an L and H respectively.

The two jets must be balanced to give the correct overall performance through the range and the starting point suggestions for the jets are given freely by Tal-Ko in their books of regs available to buy or on their website in the 2-stroke running section. Go to www.tal-ko.com

Now the fundamental mistake that people make here is to listen to the paddock gossip which says that you should screw the low jet right out and leave the high speed one only open a fraction. No, No, No!!

By doing that you will end up with an engine that has holes in its power curve and be much more critical on having the mixture setting just right. Most fundamentally, at high revs it will starve your engine of its life giving fuel and oil mix, causing overheating and drastically reducing its life.

Let me just repeat – the jets must be correctly balanced. A tad either side is no problem. A large chuck out of sync and the whole thing turns into a problem.

So to start from scratch, the low jet should be turned right in gently with a small screwdriver until it feels shut. Do not force it too far as damage will occur. Then turn it back out to two full turns. Screw the main jet in and then bring that out to just less than half a turn. Now those settings will give you a ‘rich’ setting which is a good safe starting point.

If you have a clutched engine the first thing you need to do at this point is start the engine and see if it will tickover smoothly with these settings. If it does then great. If not then trying screwing the low jet in a small amount to see if the tickover speeds up and smoothes out. Once you have that setting then you are ready to go on track. If you have to turn in the low jet 1/8 of a turn then simply turn out the high the same amount so that the sum of the 2 jet settings add up to 2 1/2  (2 on Low + 1/2 on High = 2 1/2 Total)

Whether clutched or direct drive you now need to assess the feel of the engine. And the good thing here is that even if you are a Dad watching from trackside you will be able to tell. Ideally you want the engine to be giving out blue smoke for the first lap or so, reducing down to maybe just a small puff when going back on power after a corner.

The thing you are more likely to get on those fairly rich settings is something called 4-stroking. We won’t bother to go into explaining the techy reason, but it is basically a point when the engine will not rev any more and goes flat sounding at high revs on a straight. That is a sign of being too rich.

Now it is very important to get your engine to initially 4 stroke so that you know where you are with your settings especially when you change carbs, engines etc and this will aid you to then adjust the main jet in a small amount at a time each lap until you just lose the 4 stroke as you are about to brake at the end of the longest straight!

Once you feel/hear a nice crisp note all the way down the straight you have got the right setting. Then you should have an engine ready to race and win!

It is all very simple stuff but you would be amazed how many people do the wrong thing and listen to gossip which leaves them seriously underpowered. So be rich and powerful!

Sidney Sprocket

Round The Bend – All talk and no trousers

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All talk and no trousers

Sponsors want communication skills to match driving ability but if you can’t talk the talk, go ape

So, the last episode of Life on Mars
has aired and that’s it, put away the Quattro. For many of us the series offered a view down the other end of a telescope, back to our freer, younger and far friskier days.

I grew up in the 1980s and did my utmost to cram a lot in. From winning the MBKC Junior Britain Championship, repeatedly fibbing to my parents about my whereabouts – for ‘Shakespeare study evenings at Manchester University’ read ‘Wahey, I’ve got tickets to see the Cramps/Killing Joke/The Cure/Siouxsie and the Banshees/New Order, Happy Mondays/etc’ – then on to university itself, before running a pub, moving to London and joining The Guardian newspaper.

Between then and now, I did a great many jobs – got fired from most of them – but learnt a lot on the way. Furthermore, I developed
a personal motto, ‘fill your life with stories.’ This has and still serves me well, because
at social gatherings I am often to be found nursing a glass and telling a ripping yarn
- usually at my own expense.

This was inspired by meeting people whom I could only describe as chaps who ‘had lived a little’. Consequently, they were excellent raconteurs and could draw on rich
- and often rather fruity – life experiences that some could only wonder at. What you put into life really does develop ‘character’ and it pains me to see talented young kart racers, bidding for long-term careers in professional motorsport, who do virtually nothing else but race.

Garda European February 2010
Nyck De Vries has fun with his race suit and kart graphics designs

Undoubtedly the monumental amount of seat time will, or should, create a fantastic driver – but professional motor racing is more than just a sport, it is a marketing opportunity. That’s why the brands associated with the upper echelons of motor racing look for ambassadors who can do much more than win races. They want fully- rounded personalities, who have what is commonly called ‘the gift of the gab.’

Virtually all the current generation of F1 drivers are masters at this. Weirdly, Kimi Raikkonen is rubbish at it and yet, when it comes to being a character, few can rival him. He has been photographed sleeping alfresco whilst cuddling an inflatable dolphin (I’m told such animals hold the same fascination in Finland as sheep do for the Welsh and people in the remoter parts of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria), and competed in power boat races under the name ‘James Hunt,’ while dressed as a gorilla.

Raikkonen always played down the suggestion that he had heroes, but famously acknowledged his admiration of Hunt.
The 1976 World Champion was eccentric, charismatic and terrific fun. His critics accused him of not taking the sport, or his talent, seriously enough – but Hunt didn’t care. He lived life as fast off the track as he did on it, and what James could do that Kimi can’t, is talk. Hunt was as colourful with his opinions as he was with his taste in cheeky t-shirts and badges on his race suit.

You can see an echo of the former McLaren ace in Nyck De Vries. Although still very much a kid, the diminutive Dutch star has a fine line in wit. He has worked with Freeminds to create one-off racesuits that cleverly reference the event he’s competing in. At this year’s Winter Cup he sported a design complete with embroidered snowflakes and the word ‘Brrrrrr’ all over it.

With so much at stake these days, it is unsurprising that karting and motorsport paddocks are becoming sterile places and discourage free spirits. The increasing presence of the media in karting is ironically contributing to this. Most teenagers find it virtually impossible to describe in glorious technicolor the innermost workings of their minds, let alone or paint pictures with words. Consequently, asinine, oft-trotted out lines become the norm. It’s not their fault; talking about yourself, or vividly describing a race

in a manner that ordinary people in their living rooms – who have no idea about what it’s like to drive a proper kart flat-out – can understand, is not in the school curriculum. And they rarely get detailed advice from the people asking the questions.

Even top F1 drivers fall into this trap as they churn out turgid tributes to the team, everyone back at the factory and their fans, etc, etc after finish in any position from 1st to 10th, or even lower. Frighteningly, kids in karting think this is what we hacks actually want and start parroting similarly anodyne soundbites.

It is important to develop interests and skills away from karting because, ironically, they could still have a beneficial impact on your pursuit of a career as a professional racing driver.

When he had his own junior formula race team, Jackie Stewart insisted that all his drivers could play golf to an acceptable standard. This was so his young protégées could talk to marketing partners in an environment they could share as relative equals and form a relationship over the 18 holes.

A life wholly devoted to reaching the pinnacle of motorsport is to be admired – but it is also important to expand your horizons. Marketing Directors like working with individuals who can relate to their target audience, are clean-cut but also capable of generating headlines, that’s why they use sport as a marketing medium. I hate the phrase but it is true, people buy people. If you can develop an easy way with folk from all walks of life – and of course, keep winning – you’ll have it made.

Adam Jones

Young’Uns – A look at the Honda Cadet class

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2008 Rotax Grand Finals Champion and top SKF driver Ben Cooper started off in Honda Cadets

Ask any of today’s top motor racing drivers to recount their first karting experiences and there’s a strong probability that the Honda GX motor will have been involved. Low initial cost, renowned durability and ease of operation make this ubiquitous engine a firm favourite amongst rental kart operators throughout the world. With the MSA’s “Let’s Go Karting” scheme becoming increasingly popular, even more prospective new entrants are learning their skills courtesy of Honda power. The basic simplicity of these motors is a significant bonus, especially for those drivers with no mechanical background or previous knowledge of karting.  You might expect, then, that competitors would be queuing up to race in the Honda Cadet class. Unfortunately in many parts of Britain, the stampede hasn’t quite materialised as yet, although there are signs of increasing interest.

The Scots have always been pretty canny when it comes to obtaining good value for money and Honda Cadets have certainly gained a strong foothold over the Border. The West of Scotland Kart Club chairman Jim McDonald confirms that Honda entries at Larkhall usually vary between 10 and 15 with only a handful of Comers taking part. Over in Ireland and the Isle of Man there’s a similar tale to tell, but throughout Northern England Comer engines remain predominant. Travelling further south, you’re into Honda territory once more with Bayford Meadows, Ellough Park, Llandow, Rye House, Red Lodge, Kimbolton, Clay Pigeon Blackbushe and Buckmore all attracting good grids. At Buckmore, for example more than 50 Honda cadets are contesting this year’s club championships with similar numbers reported at Bayford Meadows.

 Notable Honda graduates from previous years include the names of current European KF3 champion Alexander Albon, Ben Cooper, Jordan Chamberlain, James Raven and Harrison Scott. Gerard Cox of Project One produces by far the most popular chassis in this class and he has an extensive knowledge of the sport developed over many years. “I don’t believe Honda is ever going to become Britain’s premier cadet class nor, in fairness, would we want it to be,” he points out. “What we can definitely offer is best value for money you’re ever likely to find in karting at club or national level. A brand new kart and fully prepared motor will cost £2,200 + VAT, with good second-hand versions available at around £1,000. For those who want to compete successfully at Super One level, a sensible budget would be around £10,000 per year, but this figure is still well below the amount required for other classes.”

Proof of Honda Cadet’s growing popularity can be found in Project One’s sales ledger. In the first six months of this year, sales have been particularly buoyant. “We’ll be having a new homologation at the end of this year this year and I thought we might have seen a detrimental effect on our orders but thankfully that certainly hasn’t been the case,”” Gerard points out. “There’ll be no really significant design change and any improvements we do make can be retro fitted, so that older karts don’t become obsolete. We don’t do any engine preparation ourselves, but recommend the services of Pro-kart Engineering or RPM. You’ll always find parents who want to buy success and we’ve had examples of motors being sold for over £3,000. Personally, I wouldn’t advise anyone to pay much more than half of that amount even if they’re racing at the very highest level.”

On the subject of engine price, Gerard is very enthusiastic about a scheme first initiated at Buckmore Park and Bayford Meadows. At these circuits, a Honda Clubman category has been introduced with compulsory purchase the main feature. Under this scheme, If any motor looks particularly quick, it can be bought for a fixed price of £500. Around 15 drivers regularly compete in the Clubman’s class at Buckmore, with 20 or so taking part in the “Open” category. At Bayford Meadows, Clubman is usually more popular attracting around 18 entrants compared to a dozen or so in the Open events. It’s an exciting idea that could make the class an extremely attractive proposition if adopted elsewhere in Britain.

In this year’s Super One Series for Honda Cadet, Billy Monger, Jack Evans, Dave Wooder, Robbie Gallier, Luke Knott and Jack McCarthy have all featured prominently. Admittedly it isn’t one of the best supported classes in Super One with around 20 or so competitors regularly turning up at each round. Nevertheless, those drivers who do take part usually maintain high standards. In the Clubmans category, Jarvis Devon, Oscar Thorpe, Luke Wooder and Connor Grady and Thomas Manning have come to the fore. “Whether it’s a Clubman’s event at Bayford Meadows or a Super One round elsewhere in the country, you’ll invariably find that the Honda Cadet class will be won by a young lad run by his dad and I think that’s fairly rare in karting these days” says Gerard. “I believe it’s very important for the future of our sport that such a class is still available.”

Speaking selfishly from a purely spectator’s point of view, I have to admit that four strokes have never excited me in the way that Comer or WTPs can. It’s not a question of actual speed, because lap times show that Hondas are every bit as quick as any other current cadet engine. It’s more to do with noise and, I suppose, a smell of castor oil giving an impression that the two stroke machines are somehow circulating quicker. If I was paying the bill for a season’s racing myself, then Honda Cadet would obviously be my choice every time. Living in the North, there’s the small matter of finding sufficient venues to race at. Hopefully, this problem will be rectified as more parents discover the advantages that the class offers. As the recession begins to bite even harder, it’s worth asking whether clubs can afford to ignore an inexpensive entry level class which Honda obviously offers. 2011 could turn out to be an interesting year.