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A Rough Guide to the Judicial System

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For many drivers, a trip through the judicial section of the Blue Book is a magical mystery tour, similar only to the workings of the human mind, or how the Birdie Song ever got to number 1. However there will be times when you’ll need a bit of knowledge, either when you’re on the receiving end of a penalty or when you wish to put your view on the driving standards of another. That’s where this rough guide comes in, although it should be said that nothing compensates for your own quick look through the relevant sections. The first time most of us find out something is wrong is during post race compliance checks. That normally kicks off with the scrutineers’ non-compliance form, which the entrant (for the under 18s) and the driver will fill in as well as the scrute and the clerk of the course. The bit the entrant fills in has a section where he or she either agrees or doesn’t that the component or kart does not comply with the regs. In most instances, drivers will fill in the ‘agree’ section, but if you are adamant the kart is OK then fill in the ‘do not agree’ bit if you plan to go to Eligibility Appeal (more on them later). At this stage it won’t make a huge difference as the eligibility scrutineer is a judge of fact who cannot exclude you, they will merely report the facts to the Clerk of the Course whose job it is to get it in the neck from competitors. The next step is for the Clerk to ask why the kart failed the eligibility checks. He or she is looking for your ‘get out of jail free’ card or some mitigation why exclusion is not an appropriate penalty. The regs now state that, upon receiving a certificate of noncompliance, the Clerk must exclude unless there are serious, mitigating circumstances. Take, for instance, a case of a TKM inlet trumpet missing as a result of the sidepod being savaged by another driver, the presence of said driver waiting to see the Clerk should see you away without a penalty being applied. This is a bit clearer than it was some years ago when you’d both have been penalised. At this juncture, it is normal to tell the driver that he or she isn’t considered to be cheating, especially if just half a kilo underweight, but that the kart doesn’t comply. It should also be said that the imposition of an exclusion or any other penalty won’t be recorded on your licence for a technical offence and you won’t get any points either. Championship coordinators have to be very careful when writing technical and sporting regs to ensure that justice can be seen to be done without overly penalising minor errors. A case in point is a well meaning paragraph in one of the ‘05 championship regulations stating any technical infringement would result in a loss of points for the whole meeting and the obligation to count a zero score. With no leeway for the Clerk to exercise judgement on the appropriate penalty, a driver who came in underweight could find himself with no points for the meeting. The full implications have been pointed out to the organisers who have promised something different for 2006.

At this point the Eligibility Appeal can come into play. Having ticked the ‘do not agree’ box on the non-compliance form, you may appeal directly to the MSA via the meeting’s Stewards. The fee for this is in Appendix Z of the Blue Book. Once at the MSA, the Eligibility Appeal Panel will consider all aspects and adjudicate accordingly on the evidence presented from both sides. These appeals have operated with varying degrees of success from the drivers’ point of view in recent times, with a recent edition of Motorsports Now! giving two differing decisions on what appear to be identical problems. However, there must have been fundamental differences for the decisions to have been so different. The majority of the cases a Clerk will deal with involve driving incidents and here’s where the fun really starts. Many incidents are merely errors of judgement, ‘racing incidents’, where two drivers aiming for the same square foot of tarmac collide and go out of the race or get delayed. There are very few incidents where one driver takes out another in order to be rid of the menace in front but they do occasionally happen. Normally, there will be a report from an observer or Clerk that can be acted upon with both parties in the office. If the drivers are under 18, a signed-on parent or guardian (don’t forget the letter of authority for the guardian if a parent isn’t present) will be present in the proceedings. This is to protect the young person’s interests but if daddy has a rant, it can have quite the opposite effect. New legislation that effectively placed a contract between the parent and the MSA has stopped some of the parental craziness occurring, but, with the onset of red mist, we are often looking at damage limitation. The Clerk will outline the case from the observer and ask for comments from the drivers. The Clerk will then determine if an offence has been committed and, if so, the appropriate penalty. Some clerks look at the licence before deciding on the penalty, I don’t. I prefer the surprise! From time to time, one hears calls for greater consistency in decision making. All well and good but there are just too many variables involved for that to realistically happen. For instance, Clerks and Stewards work generally from an MSA booklet giving suggested penalties for different offences. There is what is called the datum (or set standard) penalty, followed by a list of suggested alternatives depending on mitigating or aggravating circumstances. Having heard all the evidence, the Clerk or Stewards will set off from the set penalty and determine whether any mitigating circumstances have been heard. This will reduce the penalty and mean less points on the all-important licence. On the flip side, any aggravating circumstances can end up in a fine as well as exclusion from the race or even the meeting. The Clerk’s decision will be communicated in writing and the driver will sign to receive the penalty, countersigned by an adult if the alleged offender is under 18. There will be occasions when, in the midst of a monumental six-way scrap for the lead, observers will miss an incident further back down the field. Aggrieved driver and dad are understandably miffed this has been missed. “After all, what are we paying you for?” is the general comment. Fair enough, but you can only see what you’re looking at and that’s generally the leaders as this is where most of the grief comes from. When Clerks and observers miss something, the onus is on the competitor to protest the other driver. It isn’t difficult to do and most Clerks will point you in the right direction, if you ask nicely. Start getting a bit stroppy and you’re basically on your own. The first thing you’ll need is a protest form. Contrary to popular belief, Clerks do not have a stash of these in their back pockets ready to dish out. The best person to ask will be the Competition Secretary or the MSA Steward, as both will have copies in the paperwork issued from the MSA. The Clerk will not. However, at the major national championships Clerks will probably have a supply somewhere, accrued over time.

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Despite what you may think, Clerks prefer to watch racing than doing paperwork

This reminds me of a tale of one entrant who would persistently ask for protest forms which always came to nothing. Rumour has it the driver was asked to give some of the protest forms back as the championship had run out! Once you have your form, you’ll need to know the fee as no pay, no play. Again, a schedule of fees can be found in Appendix Z of the Blue Book. With most national championships the meeting has National A status and the fee is clearly marked. For the rest the fee will be that for a meeting below National A but with an MSA Steward. On some very odd occasions, a split permit meeting is run, so it is as well to ask the status of the class you are running in. The wrong fee can see your protest rejected. Once you have your protest filled in, the fee sorted and some witnesses lined up, you can submit your protest. Read this next bit very carefully. You can submit the protest or appeal to the Secretary of the Meeting as well as the Clerk of the Course. You don’t have to disturb the Clerk from his work. Once the Clerk has been informed of the protest, a suitable time and venue for the hearing will be arranged with both parties and they will have the chance to call witnesses. The hearing is a little like an informal magistrates court, but the realisation has to be that getting information out of all the witnesses is vital, sometimes a gentle touch is required for younger competitors. Juniors who have been coached beforehand are instantly recognisable, purely from the language used and the phrasing of their evidence. One parent a couple of years ago rolled his eyes to the heavens when number one sprog recited chapter and verse what daddy had schooled him in but obviously forgot the bit about putting it in his own words. In the end it didn’t matter as more conventional evidence backed up the, “I was proceeding in a westerly direction” spiel and the protest succeeded. The general rule of thumb is that if you win the protest, you get the fee returned, lose and you don’t. If you win the protest but have been stroppy throughout the proceedings, don’t expect to see the money again. Incidentally, don’t put in protests just for the fun of it. I had occasion a few years ago to threaten reporting a parent to the Stewards for putting in protests in bad faith after about the third one against the same driver in the same meeting! Timescales are important and also subtly different. If you want to protest against another driver, you have 30 minutes after the race in question finishes. If you are unsure about the results, you have 30 minutes after the results are posted. The latter timescale also applies to grids. If you wish to protest another kart on technical grounds, make that intention known before the kart leaves parc ferme and the investigation can commence straight away. If you wait until the kart is released, you risk losing on the grounds that the alleged dodgy component may have been changed after scrutineering and the kart may not be ‘as raced’. Video evidence. The Clerk may use it if he sees fit and if the video is under the control of the organising club. If it comes from someone’s handheld video camcorder, the Clerk can opt not to use it. I agreed to view video evidence once, with the protestor convinced it would make their case. It didn’t and upset them mightily when the protest was rejected. Once the Clerk has made his decision, it will be communicated in writing to the protestor. This just means that the penalty has been received, not that the driver accepts that penalty and the time set down for the decision becomes important. The clock starts ticking for any appeal when the decision is set down and any arguing the aggrieved party might do just eats into that time.

The Clerk doesn’t want to start discussing his decision as he may have to justify the thought processes to the Stewards later in an appeal. Appeals can only be made by a person directly affected by the Clerk’s original decision and should be lodged within 30 minutes of that decision, third party protests and appeals are no longer permitted. These can be quite good fun or very frustrating, or sometimes even both depending on the circumstances. Some years ago I had a decision appealed to the Stewards of the Meeting and was allowed to sit in after giving my evidence. What I heard and what the Stewards heard were two completely different things. I was asked by the Stewards if I would have convicted based on the evidence of the appeal and I was bound to say no, so the appeal succeeded. However the original evidence was considerably different to the appeal evidence. A quick word on Stewards’ meetings etiquette. Don’t swear in front of the Stewards. Some of these venerable gentlemen are magistrates and won’t allow it in court, even if they’ve heard it all before, so you won’t get away with it at the track either. They also have the power to remove your licence for up to 30 days there and then and your involvement in the meeting ceases. You can forget about racing under appeal. Your money will be accepted for a shot at a tribunal but you still won’t turn a wheel again for a month. Tribunals are an entirely different animal and generally take place in the boardroom at Colnbrook, home of the MSA. I’ve only been to one tribunal, an appeal against the Stewards of the Meeting upholding my original decision. Opening arguments were heard from both MSA and competitor before I was invited to give my evidence as Clerk. After we’d finished, the deliberations took an age before the verdict was read out from the written statement (obviously where the time had gone). A fairly straightforward case took about three hours. That’s how thorough it is. One final point. The perception is that most Clerks get a kick out of doing paperwork and penalising people. I’ve worked with quite a few up and down the country who don’t have that view at all. In fact, we’d much prefer to stay out of the office and watch some decent racing and people enjoying their competition. However, if those same people step over the line, then we will take action as we see fit. At club level, I see our role as educating as much as legislating but, if the education isn’t working, then other tactics need to be employed. At championship level, a certain level of skill and knowledge from the driver is assumed, so the emphasis will be less on education and more on legislation. There it is, a quick walk through of the judicial system. Please take the time to read Section ‘O’ of the Blue Book, it can be your friend as much as your enemy and it’s always best to know your enemy.

Colin Wright: MSA vs. IKR

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The MSA versus IKR debate continues. You’re a valuable part of karting, so what do you suggest we do right now to improve karting for everyone?

Following on from last month’s piece about alignment between Non MSA (IKR) and MSA I was lucky enough to get an hour at Buckmore on track for a company briefing. Great track, well prepared “corporate” karts, first place, rain came after 30 minutes, could it have got any better?

Well yes, facilities such as Buckmore are a great feeder for MSA racing and the “alignment” between the NKA and MSA racing cannot come quick enough to see numbers grow. Besides being a little older than “race prime” the sheer thrill and adrenalin of racing was/ is still there and this started me thinking as to why we keep this sport a secret! After an hour, 21 people were physically drained, excited and the conversations in the bar afterwards centred around “how good it was”, “can we do more”, “are there faster karts”, “how is Colin so quick”! OK maybe not the last one! But for every one of us that gets in a kart for fun to race MSA or non MSA why can we not tell five separate people about the sport, bring them along, let them see that it’s not quite Paultons Park?

We are complacent, we take our sport for granted, if we want more people then we ALL need to tell more, the Governing bodies and Associations can only do so much but if we have 4000 license holders get 20000 along to watch, how many race at IKR, same thing lets tell 5 friends and get them along, then they can decide whether to go MSA or IKR, the pool grows bigger, everyone benefits?

Next year, with Nigel Edwards great efforts within the MSA we could possibly see the barriers to entry dropped massively, align this to more interested parties and we should be able to halt/ stabilise license number decline and then work to increase those license holders over the coming years. Let’s dispel a little of the apathy and get people along, stop the web forum “my class is better than yours” debates. Decide at your local track what you want to do, two choices, regulated MSA or less regulated IKR, that should not be too tough should it?

Driving standards. I have watched with interest into what we can do to enhance better driving standards, remove “loading” or more rightly termed shoving, pushing, cheating? “It’s the officials fault, they do not punish the guilty” I hear that often. Well having been an observer and a Clerk it’s a damn hard job trying to identify exactly who is pushing in a grid full of adrenalin, I’d love to see EVERY driver and PG holder have to stand with a marshal on post and try to identify the culprit, it’s much harder just watching your own driver.

Are standing starts the answer? Possibly, but the side effects such as clutch failure and second corner incidents perhaps suggest otherwise?

CIK droppable nosecones, perhaps? This one has split the opinion 50/50, but we as a sport are sometimes way too pessimistic, “that will never work, its rubbish” How about we change tact, let’s welcome new ideas, let’s look at trials and see the results instead of knee jerk uninformed reactions, I for one welcome anything that is self-policing, one that perhaps allows Officials to deal with key issues instead of a queue of loading incidents making their way to the office.

Clubs struggle to get officials and I’m not seeing many new Clerks coming through. If we had a self-policing solution allowing Clerks and Observers to focus elsewhere we may have a solution? I’m prepared to see it in action before I condemn it out of hand. Just imagine that it works, that it changes driving mentality, that overtakes are clean and without contact, that nosecones last a year. Now is that not something we should at least consider rather than dismiss it out of hand? Work with us, suggest ideas, contact us, give ideas a chance…

2014 regulation changes: ABkC News October 2013

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Written By Graham Smith

Photo 25-09-2013 21 50 18
This newsletter has a summary of the known and proposed changes in class regulations for 2014, so please note carefully where appropriate.

The ABkC Steering Group noted that the MSA has put on hold the proposed change in the lower age of Seniors and the upper age of Juniors. It should be noted that none of the usual classes planned to have a change in the lower Senior age anyway.

The MSA are considering the introduction of minimum driver weights in the senior classes for younger drivers, but not until at least 2015.

The new regulations on special number plates has come in, so only 1 to 10, 0 and GP are guaranteed in the British and National classes, others need to make application for MSA approval. It is thought that if the MSA approve a special plate it would only be allowed at that club or venue where awarded. The Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh champions are accepted everywhere by the ABkC so it is hoped the MSA will follow suit. Relevant championship organisers and clubs concerned must now write to Cheryl Lynch at the MSA to seek MSA approval for 2014 use of special plates and numbers.

Please remember to send in nominations for the 2014 Steering Group for the following posts: Chairman, Secretary (currently Graham Smith), Direct Drive Technical Expert (currently Kieran Crawley), Gearbox Technical (currently Phil Featherstone), Cadet Techncal (currently Paul Klaassen), and seven club representatives (currently Martin Bean, Steve Clayton, Rob Dodds, Nigel Edwards, Malcolm Fell, Colin Lipscomb, Alistair Parker, Kelvin Nicholls).
The Annual General Meeting is to be held at Donington Park Farmhouse Hotel on Tuesday 10th December, starting at 11am. A sandwich lunch will be served. Russell Anderson has indicated his desire to stand down as Chairman, he is mightily thanked for all the work he has put in on all of the clubs’ behalf. Nominations from the official club contact are required by 26th November to the Secretary.

Clubs are reminded to ensure that commercial teams visiting their tracks do have appropriate public liability insurance and if the van or truck is over a certain size (generally 3,500kg gross plated weight) have an Operators Licence. More information on these, where the regulations have changed recently, is here: kartingm.ag/15zHnc3
Other regulations that changed from 1st October are the RIDDOR accident reporting regulations, see kartingm.ag/177Nl2j for details.

With the new classes coming along for 2014, clubs are reminded that in order to race these classes, or indeed any that is not in the Gold Book, the KTE MSA approval references must be put in the club’s championship regulations or SRs. Otherwise no one competing or scrutineering knows where to find the appropriate regulations that the club is offering.
At the meeting Llandow Kart Club were given approval to issue the ABkC numbers 1 – 10 for their Kartmania Honda Senior championship, and the same for 2014 to include Honda Junior. Tyro licenced drivers would not be eligible for a plate though. And of course this is subject to MSA approval since the class is not a designated National or British category.

Clubs are urged to send the Child Protection Officers to one of the seminars the MSA has organised in October and to send club stewards and race secretaries to the non licenced officials seminars that will be organised in the New Year.

The Steering Group held a secret vote to decide upon the 2014 ABkC O Plate meetings, based on the bids submitted. The outcome was:

  • Cumbria Kart Club at Rowrah will hold the Rotax classes
  • Rissington will hold the Gearbox classes at the Midland Championships
  • Shenington will hold the TKM classes
  • Buckmore Park will again host the Honda Cadet class
  • Subject to confirmation with the MSA, Larkhall will host the IAME and Comer O Plates

The steering group is very concerned about the amount of blocking that takes place and the members are trying hard to come up with some regulations to alleviate the issue and penalise offenders.

Subheading: Class changes envisaged for 2014

Remember this is not an exhaustive list, please check the new regulations very carefully.

  • Bambino – Registered Comer C50 engine only and Le Cont all weather tyres. (Clubs should remind competitors to get their existing Comers checked and registered by Zip before the end of the year.)
  • Cadet – new chassis and brake homologations, the 2004 homologation no longer permitted.
  • Comer Cadet – change of number plate colour
  • Honda Cadet – amended technical regulations which will include the introduction of an ignition timing check tool. These tools will be available for purchase by anyone and will be ABkC marked.
  • Rotax classes – new markings on the 2014 homologated tyres, but the tyres are the same as the current ones which can still be used
  • Minimax – minimum driver weight increases to 39kg
  • Junior Max – minimum driver weight increases to 42.5kg
  • Honda Junior – minimum driver weight increases to 43kg
  • Honda Junior / Senior – Tyres will be either Dunlop SL1/KT3 or Bridgestone YDS slick/YFD wet.
  • World Formula – Tyres only Dunlop SL3 slick / KT3 wet

KF Junior – Latest Tillotson Carburettor HW23 only. Tyres to be Bridgetone YMH and YLP

TKM – New lower class weight for Seniors at 132kg plus the 146kg category has a minimum driver weight of 50kg and the 152kg class a minimum driver weight of 60kg. Also other various minor changes to regulations

KZ UK (note change in name from KZ2) – Engine parts can be mixed and matched so long as each part is CIK homologated from the same manufacturer. Gear ratios and exhaust are ‘free’ again. Tyres are Dunlop DFH F/Z (CIK Option/Hard) but the Bridgestone YMH may be used at club meetings only. Wets are KT14 but KT13 and Bridgestone YLP may be used at club meetings only.
KZ1 (Subject to agreement with the MSA) – Non-CIK homologated chassis may be permitted if registered with the MSA. Tyres are Bridgestone YMH and wets YLP. Class weight will be 180kg.

250 National – The only slick tyres permitted are Bridgestone YMH, Dunlop DFH, Le Cont LO10 and Vega XH. Wets can be any CIK homologated from these manufacturers from 2011 onwards. New engines (or kit parts) that complete registration by 1st December are eligible for points and prizes. Weights in long circuit 250 National will increase from 205 to 208kg, and from 205 to 212kg in the 450 4-stroke class.

125 Open – regulations may have some changes to bring in line with the long circuit version.

Miscellaneous – Valve caps to be compulsory in long circuit ABkC regulations and the steering group is considering whether this should apply across the board – short circuit as well. (Check long circuit championship regulations for latest).

 

A Rough Guide to the MSA Judicial Procedures Part 2

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A Rough Guide to the MSA Judicial Procedures Part 2 in a two-part series – thankfully! For many drivers, a trip through the judicial section of the Blue Book is a magical mystery tour, similar only to the workings of the human mind, sat-nav, or why Peter Andre ever wanted to marry Jordan. However there will be times when you’ll need a bit of knowledge, either when you’re on the receiving end of a penalty or when you wish to put your view on the driving standards of another. That’s where this rough guide comes in, although it should be said that nothing compensates for your own quick look through the relevant sections. It’s a few years since this article last appeared, but the Blue Book has been revamped and the original references have disappeared, whilst some new type regs have replaced some of the old and much loved ones. In the interests of balance, some of the unloved ones were replaced as well. The first time most of us find out something has gone horribly wrong is during post race compliance checks.

That normally kicks off with the scrutineers’ noncompliance form, which the entrant (for the under 18s) and the driver will fill in as well as the scrute and the clerk of the course. The bit the entrant fills in has a section where he or she either agrees or doesn’t that the component or kart does not comply with the regs. In most instances, drivers will fill in the ‘agree’ section, but if you are adamant the kart is OK then fill in the ‘do not agree’ bit if you plan to go to Eligibility Appeal (more on them later). At this stage it won’t make a huge difference as the eligibility scrutineer is a judge of fact who cannot exclude you, they will merely report the facts to the Clerk of the Course whose job it is to get it in the neck from competitors. The next step is for the Clerk to ask why the kart failed the eligibility checks. He or she is looking for your ‘get out of jail free’ card or some mitigation why exclusion is not an appropriate penalty. The regs now state that, upon receiving a certificate of non-compliance, the Clerk must exclude unless there are serious, mitigating circumstances why exclusion would not be appropriate. Take, for instance, a case of a TKM old-style inlet trumpet missing as a result of the sidepod being savaged by another driver. The presence of said driver waiting outside the office to see the Clerk might see you away without a penalty being applied, depending on the circumstances surrounding the savaging.

This is a bit clearer than it was some years ago when you’d both have been penalised. At this juncture, it is normal to tell the driver that he or she isn’t considered to be cheating, especially if just half a kilo underweight, but that the kart doesn’t comply with the technical regs. It should also be said that the imposition of an exclusion or any other penalty won’t be recorded on your licence for a technical offence and you won’t get any points either. Championship coordinators have to be very careful when writing technical and sporting regs to ensure that justice can be seen to be done without overly penalising minor errors. A case in point is a well meaning paragraph in one of the ’05 championship regulations stating any technical infringement would result in a loss of points for the whole meeting and the obligation to count a zero score. With no leeway for the Clerk to exercise judgement on the appropriate penalty, a driver who came in underweight could find himself with no points for the meeting. That was rectified for 2006 after a little discussion between various parties. At this point the Eligibility Appeal can come into play. Having ticked the ‘do not agree’ box on the non-compliance form, you may appeal directly to the MSA via the meeting’s Stewards. The fee for this is in the back of the Blue Book in the schedule of fees. Once at the MSA, the Eligibility Appeal Panel will consider all aspects and adjudicate accordingly on the evidence presented from both sides. These appeals have operated with varying degrees of success from the drivers’ point of view in recent times, with a classic edition of Motorsports Now! giving two differing decisions on what appeared to be identical problems. However, there were fundamental differences in the evidence heard, which is why the decisions were so different. Lack of space in the magazine also plays a part as even the decision can appear shorter that expected.

The majority of the cases a Clerk will deal with will mostly involve driving incidents and here’s where the fun really starts. Many incidents are merely errors of judgement, ‘racing incidents’, where two drivers aiming for the same square foot of tarmac collide and go out of the race or get delayed. There are very few incidents where one driver takes out another in order to be rid of the menace in front but they do occasionally happen. Normally (God willing and with a following wind), there will be a report from an observer or Clerk that can be acted upon with both parties in the office. If the drivers are under 18, a signed-on parent or guardian (don’t forget the letter of authority for the guardian if a parent isn’t present) will be present in the proceedings. This is to protect the young person’s interests but if daddy has a rant, it can have quite the opposite effect. New legislation that effectively placed a contract between the parent and the MSA has stopped some of the parental craziness occurring, but, with the onset of red mist, we are often looking at damage limitation. The Clerk will outline the case from the observer and ask for comments from the drivers.

The Clerk will then determine if an offence has been committed and, if so, the appropriate penalty to apply. Some clerks used to look at the licence before deciding on the penalty. I didn’t, as I preferred the surprise! The advent of the credit card racing licence has removed all the mystery now, as the points totals are held on a database back at HQ, with only the Stewards having the appropriate text number to find out if the licence already has points on it and perhaps warrants suspension if the 12 point limit has been reached. This can happen and not for the first time, a driver can find that a heat 1 incident pushes him or her over the 12 points needed for a three month holiday and it’s time to go home. Forget about racing under appeal either. This simply doesn’t happen after a suspension has been imposed. You can lodge an appeal against the penalty which accrued the suspension and even decide to lodge what is known as the “show just cause appeal”, which is your way of stating why the suspension will cause the driver excessive hardship. From time to time (OK, all the time), one hears calls for greater consistency in decision making. All well and good but there are just too many variables involved for that to realistically happen. For instance, Clerks and Stewards work generally from an MSA booklet giving suggested penalties for different offences. There is what is called the datum (or set standard) penalty, followed by a list of suggested alternatives depending on mitigating or aggravating circumstances. Having heard all the evidence, the Clerk or Stewards will set off from the set penalty and determine whether any mitigating circumstances have been heard. This will reduce the penalty and mean less points on the all-important licence. On the flip side, any aggravating circumstances can end up in a fine as well as exclusion from the race or even the meeting. The Clerk’s decision will be communicated in writing and the driver will sign to receive the penalty, countersigned by an adult if the alleged offender is under 18. There will be occasions when, in the midst of a monumental six-way scrap for the lead, observers will miss an incident further back down the field. Aggrieved driver and dad are understandably miffed this has been missed. “After all, what are we paying you for?” is the general comment. Never a very good opening gambit in most cases, this tends to fail spectacularly at most kart events as most of us are doing it for expenses and the “fun” of it. It says here. You can understand the frustration of the aggrieved party, but what they generally fail to consider is that you can only see what you’re looking at and that’s generally the leaders as this is where most of the grief comes from. When Clerks and observers miss something, the onus is on the competitor to protest the other driver. It isn’t difficult to do and most Clerks will point you in the right direction, if you ask nicely. Start getting a bit stroppy and you’re basically on your own. The first thing you’ll need is a protest form. Contrary to popular belief, Clerks do not have a stash of these in their back pockets ready to dish out. The best person to ask will be the Competition Secretary or the MSA Steward, as both will have copies in the paperwork issued from the MSA. The Clerk will not, mostly because they don’t get any.

However, at the major national championships Clerks will probably have a supply somewhere, accrued over time. This reminds me of a tale of one entrant who would persistently ask for protest forms which never actually appeared. Rumour has it the driver was asked to give some of the protest forms back as the championship had run out! Once you have your form, you’ll need to know the fee as no pay, no play. Again, a schedule of fees can be found in the Schedule of Fees at the back of the Blue Book. With most national championships the meeting has National A status and the fee is clearly marked. For the rest the fee will be that for a meeting below National A but with an MSA Steward. On some very odd occasions, a split permit meeting is run, so it is as well to ask the status of the class you are running in. The wrong fee can see your protest rejected. Timescales are important and also subtly different. If you want to protest against another driver, you have 30 minutes after the race in question finishes. If you are unsure about the results, you have 30 minutes after the results are posted. The latter timescale also applies to grids. If you wish to protest another kart on technical grounds, make that intention known before the kart leaves parc ferme and the investigation can commence straight away. If you wait until the kart is released, you risk losing on the grounds that the alleged dodgy component may have been changed after scrutineering and the kart may not be ‘as raced’. Once you have your protest filled in, the fee sorted and some witnesses lined up, you can submit your protest. Read this next bit very carefully. You can submit the protest or appeal to the Secretary of the Meeting as well as the Clerk of the Course (or MSA Steward in the event of an Appeal). You don’t have to disturb the Clerk from his work. Once the Clerk has been informed of the protest, a suitable time and venue for the hearing will be arranged with both parties and they will have the chance to call witnesses. The hearing is a little like an informal magistrates court, but the realisation has to be that getting information out of all the witnesses is vital, sometimes a gentle touch is required for younger competitors. Juniors who have been coached beforehand are instantly recognisable, purely from the language used and the phrasing of their evidence. One parent a couple of years ago rolled his eyes to the heavens when number one sprog recited chapter and verse what his daddy had schooled him in but obviously forgot the bit about putting it in his own words. In the end it didn’t matter as more conventional evidence backed up the, “I was proceeding in a westerly direction” constabulary spiel and the protest succeeded. The general rule of thumb is that if you win the protest, you get the fee returned at the discretion of the Clerk, lose and you don’t. If you win the protest but have been stroppy throughout the proceedings, don’t expect to see the money again.

Appeal fees are subject to the same criteria. You may think you’ve won the appeal, but unless the paperwork says “fee refunded” it won’t be. Contrary to popular belief, the fees collected don’t keep the MSA Executive in cocoa and chocolate digestives, but are put into a pot which pays for the annual training seminars which alternate between club and licensed officials. These don’t come cheap and it is comforting (at least for us) that the money is being put to good use. Incidentally, don’t put in protests just for the fun of it. I had occasion quite a few years ago to threaten reporting a parent to the Stewards for putting in protests in bad faith after about the third one against the same driver in the same meeting! Video evidence. The Clerk may use it if he sees fit and if the video is under the control of the organising club. If it comes from someone’s handheld video camcorder, the Clerk can opt not to use it. I agreed to view video evidence once, with the protestor convinced it would make their case. It didn’t and upset them mightily when the protest was rejected. Once the Clerk has made his decision, it will be communicated in writing to the protestor.

This just means that the penalty has been received, not that the driver accepts that penalty and the time set down for the decision becomes important. The clock starts ticking for any appeal when the decision is set down and any arguing the aggrieved party might do just eats into that time. The Clerk doesn’t want to start discussing his decision as he may have to justify the thought processes to the Stewards later in an appeal. Appeals can only be made by a person directly affected by the Clerk’s original decision and should be lodged within 30 minutes of that decision, third party protests and appeals are no longer permitted. These can be quite good fun or very frustrating, or sometimes even both depending on the circumstances. Some years ago I had a decision appealed to the Stewards of the Meeting and was allowed to sit in after giving my evidence. What I heard and what the Stewards heard were two completely different things, although there was no indication of an intention to deceive, just not all of the evidence was presented to me. I was asked by the Stewards if I would have convicted based on the evidence of the appeal and I was bound to say no, so the appeal succeeded. However the original evidence was considerably different to the appeal evidence.

When the appellant changes his story from the evidence he (or she) gave in the original hearing and it is an apparently blatant attempt at getting off by changing the evidence, then I might feel obliged to bring it to the attention of the Stewards as it a clear attempt to deceive and your chances of success might slip a bit. A quick word on Stewards’ meetings etiquette. Don’t swear in front of the Stewards. EVER. Some of these venerable gentlemen are magistrates in whatever spare time they have and won’t allow it in court, even if they’ve heard it all before so you won’t get away with it at the track either. They also have the power to remove your licence for up to 30 days there and then and your involvement in the meeting ceases. You can forget about racing under appeal.

Your money will be accepted for a shot at a tribunal but you still won’t turn a wheel again for a month. As well as some MSA Stewards being magistrates, you may also find that some Stewards are quite senior members of the legal profession for their day job, so if you fancy your chances at being a bar room lawyer, fill your boots but be prepared to crash and burn. Tribunals are an entirely different animal and generally take place at Colnbrook, home of the MSA. For matters involving Scottish or Irish competitors, alternative arrangements can be made closer to home. I’ve only been to one tribunal, an appeal against the Stewards of the Meeting upholding my original decision. Opening arguments were heard from both MSA and competitor before I was invited to give my evidence as Clerk. After we’d finished, the deliberations took an apparent age before the verdict was read out from the written statement (obviously where the time had gone). A fairly straightforward case took about three hours. That’s how thorough it is. One final point. The perception is that most Clerks get a kick out of doing paperwork and penalising people. I’ve worked with quite a few up and down the country who don’t have that view at all. In fact, we’d much prefer to stay out of the office and watch some decent racing and people enjoying their competition. However, if those same people step over the line, then we will take action as we see fit. At club level, I see our role as educating as much as legislating but, if the education isn’t working, then other tactics need to be employed. At championship level, a certain level of skill and knowledge from the driver is assumed, so the emphasis will be less on education and more on legislation. There it is, a quick walk through of the judicial system. Please take the time to read Section ‘C.d’ of the Blue Book. It can be your friend as much as your enemy and it’s always best to know your enemy.

Starting International racing with the new World Championship

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1
The awnings at the 2009 Super KF World Championship

The CIK-FIA have become increasingly concerned about the cost of international karting and the dominance of older professional drivers, which they feel drives away the potential future motorsport stars. They have come up with a three-event championship designed to redress the balance and give the most talented drivers the opportunity to win. The drivers’ education has not been neglected either, as most of the events will be in
the Summer holidays and there will be educational sessions on Fridays.

Who can enter?

In the U18 World Championship, drivers must be aged between 15 and 18, specifically under 19 on December 31st 2010. They must hold a CIK-FIA International A, B or
C Senior licence. If they have a C licence, they must have participated in one CIK-FIA championship event, six national events, or three events that are on the International Sporting Calendar.

The CIK Academy Championship is for drivers between 13 and 15, who have their 13th birthday during 2010 and are under 16 by December 31st. They need an International C Junior licence and to have competed in six national or three international events.

More entry criteria will be published by the CIK on March 12th.

What equipment is going to be used?

In the U18 championship, chassis manufacturers can enter up until March 22nd and must supply a minimum of 20 complete chassis plus reserve components which will be marked by the CIK. This will be the only equipment allowed
to race. Not many details have
emerged about who is going
to enter, but it is believed that
Topkart and Sodi are keen.
The engines will be identical
Parolin units to the KF4
specification, with a 15,000rpm
KF2 ignition, and will run on
E10 part-ethanol fuel. In the Academy class, drivers will race identical complete Parolin karts, with a KF3 engine, float chamber carb and E10 fuel.

Where are the races?

1. Wackersdorf, Germany on July 25th
2. Alcaniz, Spain on August 29th
3. Val D’Argenton, France on October 3rd

There will also be an official test, with the date still to be announced.

What are the advantages over racing in KF3 or KF2?
• Should be a lot cheaper
• Level playing field

What are the advantages over racing in the Rotax classes?
• Should be cheaper than international Rotax as engine preparation is taken out of the equation and whole teams aren’t needed
• It’s an official CIK-FIA recognised World Championship

How much will it cost?

You will need to pay for:
• A new chassis
• Travel and accommodation
• One mechanic if needed
• Tyres for test days
• Fuel
• Entry fee of 1090 euros for the championship
• 600 euro deposit to guarantee you will take part in all events and give the equipment back in good condition

Dunlop race tyres, the engine and an awning are provided.

How will the CIK make sure of a level playing field?
• Single-make engines will be allocated by lottery at each event

• Simplified chassis accessories with no front brakes and limited add-ons.

• Single-make chassis in Academy
• Standardised E-Z Up-type awnings
• Manufacturers on hand to provide spares and technical support to everyone

• Friday – Scrutineering, education programme, free practice
• Saturday – Free practice, qualifying, heats
• Sunday – Heats and finals

In the U18 class the heats will run as normal, then there will be two Pre-Finals, one with a reversed grid, to determine the grid for the Final. The manufacturer’s World Championship will go to the make of the winning driver’s chassis. In the Academy, there will be heats and two Finals.

What is included in the education programme?
The details haven’t been decided yet, but it will be things like fitness, psychology, safety and media awareness.

How can we enter?

• Drivers can enter from April 1st to May 20th on the CIK-FIA website and will choose a chassis which they will pay for and be allocated at the first event.
• You will need to enter under someone’s International Entrants licence, or apply for your own from the MSA. No entries will be accepted if under the name of a homologated manufacturer.

What’s the catch?

If this becomes the accepted way to kick off a motorsport career, the laws of supply and demand suggest that better-funded drivers will enter it and gain advantages

with extra testing, coaching and psychological training and other things we haven’t even thought of! Let’s hope the CIK education programme will help level the playing field here too.

Mary-Ann Horley Photo: Chris Walker